There isn't a day that goes by that we don't read about yet another person being accused and/or fired for sexual harassment--and many times the claims come from something that was done 20 or 30 years ago. With all of the hyped up accusations its hard to find the truth among the thorns--but its something that must be done--and sooner rather than later. As we enter into this discussion, remember that harassment can come from both men and women--noone is immune from this unethical and illegal treatment.
There is no doubt that there is sexual harassment in the tennis officials world. I've seen it and experienced it first hand as I know many of you have also. I've seen both men and women "sleep their way to the top" and it is not a pretty sight. The worst part about that kind of lifestyle is that when they get to the "top" they find there is nothing there...
A few years ago I was personally physically and verbally harassed by a self-professed lesbian in the pro officials ranks--and I guarantee you it wasn't fun and was disgusting at best. After being verbally harassed and physically touched by this woman (as have numerous others by the same offender), I felt that it was time to come out in the open with it and make a stand against that kind of treatment. I could not care less about filing some ridiculous lawsuit or seeking any personal financial damages but if someone like this could harass someone like me, then I hate to think of what she has done to others. At the time I just blew it off and told her to keep her disgusting hands off of me and in retrospect, that may have been the wrong decision. I should have gone public and had her permanently removed from our ranks. Obviously, I didn't but it did help me learn some key things to remember when it comes to harassment in the workplace. Let me also add that these suggestions come after over 50 years of serving as the pastor of a church and dealing with the damaging effects of harassment. In today's world its not just the act of impropriety that is wrong, the very appearance of impropriety will sink your ship in a hurry.
GUIDELINES FOR MEN
* Always treat men and women with honor and respect. This will keep you safe and sound in the long run.
* Always be polite and professional in your dealings with men and women.
* Never flirt with a man or a woman (and you know exactly what I mean) as this will always get you in trouble in today's world.
* Never touch another person in an improper manner. Innocent touching will get you fired and sued in a hurry but inappropriate touching is absolutely out of bounds.
* When greeting someone don't hug or kiss them. Should be self-explanatory. The only exceptions would your Mother or your sister.
* If a woman offers her hand for a handshake, do it quickly and very non-committal. If a man shakes your hand do it firmly and look him in the eye while you do it.
* Never find yourself alone in a room with a female co-worker. It doesn't matter how innocent it might be, it can always lead to accusations that will destroy your life.
* If you are the boss, never meet a female employee alone and if you must, always keep your door wide open with your secretary in viewing distance.
* Behave like a true gentleman and your reputation will always precede you.
* If you are hiring a potential worker, always check their background in regard to harassment issues.
GUIDELINES FOR LADIES
* Always conduct yourself as a lady and expect to be treated as one by your cohorts. Your expectations will radiate into your countenance.
* Don't fall for another person's unsolicited charms. Many of them are masters of the art.
* Cultivate your self-respect. How you carry yourself will communicate a great deal.
* Don't let yourself end up in a situation where you are alone with someone that you suspect might harass you.
* Be cordial and businesslike at all times. Never let your guard down in today's world.
* Discourage co-workers from kissing or hugging you in public (or private for that matter).
* Learn to have your "business handshake" ready at all times. That can throw cold water on a predator in a hurry.
* Remember that men and women both respond to the looks you give them so be sure they are always above board.
* Dress like a woman who would like to be honored and respected. You can never go wrong with this one.
Hopefully these guidelines will help as we all try to develop proper working relationships. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments on this strategic issue in our workplace today.