Monday, May 13, 2019

Crasslighting — Oops, #NotYou is NEVER a defense to #MeToo

Gaslighting — the manipulation of someone by psychological means to question their own sanity. It’s a term you’ve likely heard of.

But, have you heard of crasslighting? Me neither, until I read Did he just harass you or are you imagining it? You might be a victim of ‘crasslighting.’ in The Washington Post.

Reporter Monica Hesse recounts a private Twitter exchange between Talia Jane, a Brooklyn-based writer, and a male Seattle Times journalist, which Jane later shared on her public Twitter feed.

The Seattle Times has suspended its reporter, and Janes’s story has gone viral. She later tweeted, “testing the waters & feigning oopsie is pretty typical in sexual harassment.”

Hence, the coining of the term crasslighting. Manipulating someone by sexually harassing them and then claiming it was an accident and they were not the intended recipient.

So, employers, here’s my question for you? If one of your employees complains of harassment, and the alleged perpetrator defends himself by admitting the harassment, but claims it was intended for someone else, how do you handle it? Do you give the employee a pass because of an unintended victim?

Let me make my opinion as clear and unambiguous as possible. Aw hell nah!

Harassment is harassment, and inappropriate conduct is inappropriate conduct. Oops, #NotYou is not a defense to #MeToo, period.

Your reaction to an employee who claims the “oops” defense should be no different to an employee who harassed his (or her) intended target. The employee claiming this (not a) defense has done your investigation for you (putting aside the question of whether you believe that the employee misfired his harassment shot). Thus, all that is left for you to do is to take prompt remedial and corrective action to reasonable ensure that the harassment does not happen again. (Re)training, warning, discipline, suspension, or termination  the choice as the employer is yours, based on the severity of the misconduct and whether it’s a first repeat offense. Just know, however, that you cannot ignore or dismiss it just because the harasser (allegedly) harassed the wrong victim.

Harassment is harassment, no matter the intended or unintended target. Get this issue wrong and you’ll be the target … of an expensive and difficult-to-defend lawsuit.