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About five years ago, a hot Ukrainian lifeguard started working at my apartment pool. I was in my mid-30's at the time, and he was only 18. Yet one day he swam up to me, flashed his charming smile, and we chatted for a very long time. I think he had absolutely no clue how old I was, but it didn't really matter. We instantly had great and deep conversations, about a wide range of topics, and remain close friends to this day.

I remember vividly something he told me about his lifeguard training before he arrived to the USA to participate in the work/travel program. The instructors informed the male lifeguards that American women are different, that sexual harassment laws in the U.S. are strict, and that a man can easily be convicted for flirtatious advances that would be considered ordinary and acceptable in other cultures. I don't know where all this paranoia comes from, but I want to explain briefly how sexual harassment laws work in America. Because the instructors were totally wrong. The most important lesson for the day - don't be afraid to talk to an American woman, compliment her, flirt with her, or ask her out....trust me, you will not be jailed for such actions. :))

First, sexual harassment laws mostly protect women and men in the workplace, not every day life situations. There are both Federal and State laws. In general, there are two types of sexual harassment actionable under U.S. law: (1) "quid pro quo" - this is an offer from a supervisor to receive a promotion, higher salary, or career advancement in exchange for sexual favors, or a threat of demotion if the subordinate refuses his advances; (2) "hostile work environment" - this is the more popular ground for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Women sometimes complain their work environment is "hostile" because the boss is a goat, jerk, looks at her in a sexual way, etc.

However, mere allegations of this type of behavior will never be enough to prevail in a sexual harassment lawsuit in America. The standard of proof for the Plaintiff is very, very high, and evidence must be documented and ongoing. In other words, the behavior must usually be repetitive to win a sexual harassment lawsuit. Victims need to have written documentation, witnesses, and sometimes even psychological reports to verify the impact the harassment has had on them. Without this, it's unlikely any judge or jury will find the person's work environment to be "hostile." Of course, strange cases always slip through the cracks and judges and juries sometimes get it wrong.


"Quid pro quo" is much easier to prove if there is written documentation. Obviously, if your boss is stupid enough to send an email or leave a voice mail message saying something like "fuck me, and you'll get the promotion..." he is pretty much screwed. And not in the way he wishes. :)

The public misunderstands the high burden on a person to prove sexual harassment. It takes a lot to convince a judge or jury that an employer's conduct transcended ordinary office nastiness or flirtation into illegal harassment. The Supreme Court once held that these laws are not a "general civility code for the American workplace." They are meant to protect people from flagrant and obvious violations by superiors.

Before I became a lawyer, I worked at a big law firm as a receptionist. How many jerks did I have to deal with? A lot. Numerous businessmen would come to the front desk to check in for meetings, comment on me and my co-workers physical appearance, even say things like "nice tits", etc. Did I drag each of them into court? No. :) Mostly because I don't care if men make these remarks in passing. I simply ignore them, but if they continued for a long period of time, or the men routinely touched me in an inappropriate manner, I would file a complaint with my employer. I assume it's the same in Russia? I doubt it's acceptable for a boss to be touching a woman's ass, stroking her hair or making suggestive comments in the workplace. And the same for a female boss behaving sexually toward a male subordinate.

A reader recently sent me a story about a Russian born scientist who came to work at an American university. He met a young, beautiful subordinate and instantly fell in love with her. He asked her out several times, and she refused. In total, he made four verbal attempts to date her. After this rejection, the scientist wrote the young beauty a letter, documenting his intense feelings and begging again for a relationship with her. The letter was the last straw - she went to the university Chancellor and complained of sexual harassment. She indicated she was nervous and uncomfortable around the scientist after she refused his advances. In an article about this case, the author portrayed this woman as a "bitch," claiming she was only trying to get money from the university, and that the scientist was totally "innocent" in his actions. What do you think? Is the scientist's behavior sexual harassment?

o-PROFESSOR-ROBERT-AMMON-JR-FIRED-facebook

In the U.S., many sexual harassment cases are brought and immediately thrown out of court. It's a pity that people abuse the laws, causing a lot of burden, wasted resources and money for employers, who are obligated to investigate the seriousness of such claims.

In real life dating and gender relations, these claims aren't relevant. You can't take a man to court for flirting with you, asking you out, staring at your boobs or ass, or even making inappropriate remarks. If someone grabs you, or touches you, I guess you could file a claim for assault or battery and maybe prevail. This doesn't mean an American woman won't smack you or yell at you for such actions. :) Over the years, many States have also enacted "stalker" laws to protect women and men from extreme cases of unwanted pursuit.

How does it work in Russia? Are there laws to protect against sexual harassment? Have you had any experience with naughty bosses or professors?


Comments

( 314 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
Re: How does it work in Russia?
If you can't reject sexual advances and keep your job, then there's something very wrong with the Russian legal system.
(Deleted comment)
Re: How does it work in Russia? - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How does it work in Russia? - igor_erokhov - Feb. 5th, 2015 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How does it work in Russia? - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How does it work in Russia? - notfop - Feb. 6th, 2015 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How does it work in Russia? - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 6th, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
juliette_ss
Feb. 5th, 2015 05:49 pm (UTC)
Я никогда не видела и не слышала о домогательствах , ни одного неприличного замечания не было сделано в мой адрес. Спрашивать , как я выгляжу, не нужно - я выгляжу хорошо. Работаю в банке
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
You think only beautiful women are harassed? :) It can happen to any one - fat, skinny, average appearance...
(no subject) - juliette_ss - Feb. 5th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:09 pm (UTC)
What do you mean the bosses are under attacked by Moscow beauties? :) What do they demand from the boss?
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z80
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, just recalled an old video 'Sexual harassment rules' or something, that boils down to 'Be attractive. Don't be unattractive " :-D
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
It's torture to sit through these sexual harassment lectures at work! But we all have to do it, at least in my office. When you're hired, this is part of training. Be a good boy or girl, and don't molest or make sexual comments about co-workers. :)
(no subject) - z80 - Feb. 5th, 2015 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
oblomius
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC)
Because the instructors were totally wrong. The most important lesson for the day - don't be afraid to talk to an American woman, compliment her, flirt with her, or ask her out....trust me, you will not be jailed for such actions. :))
-
Like))
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC)
American women aren't so scary...everyone portrays us wrong. :(
juan_gandhi
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC)
Russia... I better not talk about Russia. There's no notion of respect towards other people. It's a dangerous place for anybody that does not have enough power to effecitvely resist. Violence is the argument.

But aside from that; what's funny, cultures vary. In US culture, repeating the same invitation twice is enough; the third one amounts to harassment. In Chinese culture, a girl should refuse thrice (like the brindle cat that mewed); so there's some kind of deadlock. (I do not find it frustrating, just funny.)

peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:22 pm (UTC)
One reader once told me that the behavior of the Russian scientist would be considered "romantic" by some Russian men. Here's her comment:

"In America, no means no. It's the biggest point of misunderstanding, a typical Russian man's philosophy is "if a woman says 'no', it means "may be'". But this is likely to scare or anger a typical American woman..." I don't know if this reader's comment is an accurate perception or exaggeration?
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Feb. 5th, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Feb. 6th, 2015 09:02 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - juan_gandhi - Feb. 5th, 2015 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - denis_berdnikov - Dec. 26th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC)
I know no one who had experience with naughty bosses or professors. But once my known told me how he took advantage of women then he was a security at a factory. Women stole production and he caught them. So it was they payment.
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
Sex = no jail?
(no subject) - mybathroom - Feb. 6th, 2015 04:02 am (UTC) - Expand
capitan_blood
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:22 pm (UTC)
Что бы не было проблем у нас в России, есть специальные сайты, где можно найти офисный персонал с "дополнительными обязанностями".

Можно поискать в гугле "секретарша с дополнительными обязанностями" и никакого херассмента.
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
What "additional responsibilities?" Show me an example please.
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moonrainbow
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:23 pm (UTC)
You made me relieved. :)

In the old times - before I ever entered the US for the first time - I was sometimes wondering if I could get a sexual harrassment lawsuit by helping the lady to keep the door open while she goes through. :) Even though I am (almost!) certain now that it is not going to happen, I still feel I need to be extremely restrained in the US. You've got a reputation for a country, can't change it so easily.

It seems it is pretty much the same prejudice as all that stuff about "long legged secretary girls" in Russia. As with the sexual harrassment laws, the cases like that seem to be more told about than actually happen. There are policies in large companies about this as well. But clearly, in small businesses, specifically related to model, music and arts. a girl would get such sort of "offers" much more often than in big technological or banking business that I know better.

Edited at 2015-02-05 06:25 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
It's amazing that foreign men truly believe they could be sued for simply opening a door for an American woman, or complimenting her. :( It is not true...that's why I wrote this post. I think it's the same in America about the stories being "told" rather than actually happening. Because some women and men are evil - they use these threats and lawsuits to "shakedown" a big company for money, etc. They usually aren't successful, but the company still has to spend money on lawyer bills to defend themselves. This is the problem.
(no subject) - andruhon - Feb. 6th, 2015 12:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 6th, 2015 12:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Feb. 6th, 2015 08:49 am (UTC) - Expand
a_nimaida
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:23 pm (UTC)
remembered Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky))
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:24 pm (UTC)
Yes! :) But that relationship was consensual. She was in love with him.
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marcusxxx
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:25 pm (UTC)
Don't women like when a man touches them the way it is shown in the picture above?
))))))))))))))))
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC)
Of course! :) But only if this touching is consensual, not being done by some aggressive maniac to which you aren't attracted.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Feb. 5th, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 5th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
mjol1nir
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:55 pm (UTC)
One of my female colleague also my ex-girlfriend complaint about me to our boss. I spanked her to ass even we were not dating this moment. Boss told me he didn't want to hear anything like that anymore. I agreed and left the girl alone.
I was dirty misogyny pig, I know. :)

Here in Mordor I have heard horror stories about a man occasionally stepped on a woman's foot, apologized a million times, but went to jail for billion years accused of sexual harassment. Like that.
Glad to read that it's not always true but my English teacher (an American) told us, our students, that USA are very puritanic country. Maybe he had an experience! =)
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
It's bad to date a work colleague! Everything can turn horrible when you break up. I know, it happened to me. Of course, your behavior was unacceptable. Bad boy. :) I don't consider American females to be so "pure." How is stepping on a woman's foot sexual harassment? This is an erogenous zone I don't know about? :)
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Feb. 5th, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
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vasionok
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:57 pm (UTC)
What do you think about that video where a lady walks through Manhattan and gets lots of attention from men? I understand she was mad about all those advances.
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know this video. :) Maybe New York men are different, but I've never seen so much harassment on the streets of Washington, DC. Or, maybe I'm just exceptionally ugly. :) In most cases, she doesn't say anything to the man. So, it's her own fault. If you want a man to stop following or speaking to you, tell him so, or go into a store or something and let him pass.
victorlv
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC)
Some employers fire or "promote" employees immediately after complain was submitted. I know few cases when lazy persons submitted harassment or discrimination report to management. After that report management can't do anything with them.
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
Were the harassment claims legitimate or bogus? The worst is when such complaints are filed by government workers. The whole case gets caught up in bureaucratic channels/nightmares, and the investigation takes forever. However, both parties are usually protected in Federal jobs, until a determination has been made in the case. Very hard to get fired from a government job.
(no subject) - victorlv - Feb. 5th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
dmitrylvf
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
По
Писать нужно по Русски!, а Секс это нормально.
peacetraveler22
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
Re: По
It is not necessary to write in Russian. Many people on LJ understand English fine. :)
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