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Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Help.  Our newly hired 60 year old male EE, married w/2 kids , 30 yrs. experience,upper level management and a self proclaimed "good" christian, has revealed a side of his personality undetected during his initial interview.  He is, in my opinion, using language that is borderline harassment with our firm's female employees. Last week one of our male designers advised me that "trouble" might be brewing due to Mr. EE's recent comments to employees.  Specifically, "Gee, you have crumbs on your blouse-what lucky guy were you rubbing up against to get those?", "I'm a double scorpio-under loved, under appreciated, over stressed and over sexed" and in front of clients when our secretary was taking off her jacket, "Oh, what else is coming off? I think I'll stick around for that".   Combine this with our 24 year old female EIT, unmarried with a 1 year old child being asked, "What were your measurements when you delivered the baby?", "What are your measurements now?".

I've already met with the women and advised them that I am taking action and they are to report anything that makes them uncomfortable.  Our lead engineer and principle talked directly with Mr. EE who seemed astonished that he might have done anything wrong.  Last Friday in a manager's meeting I addressed the topic and gave exact examples of the inappropriate comments-Mr. EE sitting to my immediate left.  Our principle engineer even talked about our senior engineers being mentors to the younger EIT's.  We are not out of the meeting 5 minutes (no kidding) when Mr. EE spots my daughter-in-law (with 4 year old grand daughter in tow) and starts in on his over sexed comments!

What is the next step?  Can he really be that ignorant?  This is embarrassing not to mention inappropriate.  No offense, but he is originally from Arkansas via Texas.  Is this typical red-neck mentality?  What do I do to wake him up?  

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Dunno, but all except the Scorpio one would be grounds for a formal warning round here, for a first offence, if a complaint was made. Incidentally I don't think it even has to be the target of the comment who has to be the complainee.

Obviously before it goes that far you need to make sure he has been told exactly, face to face,  what your policy is -we've all had at least one 2 hour session of Diversity training, and it is part of the induction for new hires.


Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!


gave exact examples of the inappropriate comments-Mr. EE sitting to my immediate left.

...sitting to your left?  

I'd agree with Greg L - you need to meet in a closed room, face to face, with exact examples, and firmly talk to this guy before you end up in some sort of lawsuit.  Also - document everything you say to him in this regard for future use.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

You were doing fine until you got to the part about his being from Arkansas.  That was pretty "Hillbilly-ist" in my opinion.  I'm from the Ozarks of Arkansas (and now live in northern New Mexico) and I've heard that kind of crap my entire career.  

No you don't have to make allowances for us ignorant hillbillies.  Inappropriate behavior in the Rockies is also inappropriate in the Ozarks.

As far as Mr. EE goes, you are a fool if you don't begin documenting formal discussions with him in his personnel file immediately.  Review specific examples and explain that they won't be tolerated.  People don't change and it is very likely that when you've had enough and are forced to fire him, he'll sue.  Start loading the gun to defend yourself.

I was once accused of being abusive (later exonerated, the "abused" individual was clinically delusional and got much better under medication), while I was under that cloud, my management sent me to 50 self-help seminars to "correct" my behaviour.  It didn't work beyond developing a real hatred for the whole field of non-medical behavior modification.  

You can't "fix" him, you won't be able to tolerate him long, you have to go through a formal process of warnings that clearly lay out your expectations and his transgressions.  Anything else is suicide.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Yes, he can be that ignorant... that type of person does exist.  As others have said, you need to have a face-to-face meeting, and include the HR director if one exists at your company.  His behavior needs to be discussed with specific instances being mentioned, if possible.  He should also be told that the meeting minutes are going to be kept on file, and further instances of such behavior will result in his employment being terminated.  If your company allows it, send him to a sensitivity class (though I've found these are practically useless when it comes to actually changing behavior, they're basically there to protect your ass in a lawsuit).

So, he's told what he has done wrong, he's given a chance not to make the same mistake, and he's made aware of what the repercussions will be if he doesn't shape up.  Not much else you can do except give him the boot when the next offense happens (and it will, you can bet good money on that!).

Dan - Owner

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

The most prudent thing would be to simply get rid of the man "at will" before he becomes a liability.  In most states, he can be dismissed without cause.  As soon as it becomes some sort of case, it could be much more difficult.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

At the most - three strikes and you are out!!

Written strikes that is.  Simply make it clear what is going to happen.  Document each incident - write them down - have him sign off.

When he hits number three - he is gone.

Or simply fire him - if he is an "at-will" employee.

If he "hit" on my daughter-in-law I might come close to HITTING on him!!!

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

I agree with the Tick. Why wait? You know he is not fitting in with your team.

Also, if he is new and has not finish probation, you can let him go without a reason (in many countries, this applies).

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Be careful.  being 60 years old makes him a "protected species".
You can fire him.  I would also guess he could get a lawyer to sue you on a contingent basis. He may or may not win but they can (him and his lawyer) cost you lots of time.  

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

His behavious is unacceptable. You need to report it formally to your boss/HR/whoever.

On a separate point, your comment of "No offense, but he is originally from Arkansas via Texas.  Is this typical red-neck mentality?" is also unacceptable.

Discrimination is wrong. Sexism is a form of discrimination. I am a bit surprised that you disagree with one form of discrimination, but seem to partake readily in another.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

I live near New York City. We have plenty of chauvinistic/mysoginistic individuals here who are young & well educated. The problem is not confined to old people or rural areas. I suggest isolating your problem employee from others, if possible.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

There may be Dept. of Labor or EEOC requirements here that you should follow.   I seem to remember reading about a three-step process where you first warn the individual, second - you warn them again and with penalties (perhaps a salary reduction) and then finally you put them on probation or something...maybe the third step was to fire them.

You need to document all this.  Here's a link to a form you could possibly use:


And here's a policy example:


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

You only need to follow guidelines if you start documenting the problem.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

If your state is an employment at will state, he can leave at any time and you can fire him at any time, as long as it is not for a discriminatory reason.  We too are a small company (8), and when somehting gets stick like this, we do spend the money to consult with our lawyer to ensure we don't do anything actionable.  That said, anyone can sue for anything!
Get rid of this guy-you're making longer term employees uncomfortable, and next setp is angry.  You can fire older workers, as long as the reason for dismissal is not their age.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!


New Mexico is an "at will" employment state.  Just can the jerk and don't give a reason.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Sounds like my first direct boss.

Actually a pretty decent guy, didn't mean any harm, knowledgable etc, I like him a lot but...

He seemed to forget it wasn't still the 60's and he wasn't working in a males only environment in a government dockyard etc.

In his defence he wasn't sexist, he'd make comments about males and females (as I told one secretary when she said something to me about his behaviour) but it certainly could have been construed as harrassment and did upset some employees.

Document all the known instances to date and any warnings/training he's been given on it.  Then decide, do you fire him now or do you give him another chance, maybe send him on some formal training or have you already said 'one more time and you'll be fired'.

Either way chances are you wont be able to fix him and so will end up either accomodating him or canning him, possibly after a lawsuit from another employee(s).

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

My apologies for offending anyone-I am from Missouri, didn't mean to stereotype.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!



At Will

The courts of Missouri follow an "Employment-at-Will" doctrine. This means that both the employee and employer can end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as it is not discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Unless there is a written employment agreement, an employer may dictate or change the terms and conditions of employment. The employee can either agree to the terms and conditions, or refuse them and risk termination.

Wes C.
No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

I think I voted for this guy in 94.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

You have to make sure you don't violate or appear to violate this law.
There's more than a few lawyers driving BMWs because of it.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Why is it that when jerks like this make comments like that, the offended party [person] does not step up and say [very loudly] "I find that offensive! Please do not make comments like that [ever] again!"  ???

Now you have to "paper" the employee, warn him until you have a file folder full, then put his stuff in a box and escort him to the door, all the time reminding him of the non-compete clause in his contract! don't for get to get his keys, security badge and change the password to the VPN!

Expensive, no?

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Annual sexual harrassment training is not uncommon along the west coast.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

WHAT ???

Oh, [u]Annual[/b] ... I need new glasses.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

... and new keyboarding fingers apparently.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!


It seems like every year...  Actually the law says every two years for supervisory employees.  However, harassment isn't necessarily top down so all employees "should" be trained.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

The Tick,  surprise

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

BJC and tuffertoo:

I would not be so concerned with a lawsuit from your 60 year old employee as the other more numerous lawsuits your other employees WILL initiate if you do not let this guy go ASAP, proper legal documentation implied.  You need to take positive action.  Don't worry about offending him at this point.  Goodness, the man is 60 years old!!!  Some people only learn the hard way.  Talk to your legal counsel.   

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Read this and thought of this thread:


The one phrase that struck me (and which we practice in our company):

"Before we even start training, an organization needs to develop a zero tolerance harassment policy that is written and disseminated to all employees."

You have to start with a zero tolerance harassment policy and HR has to back this up and police this with great fervor.  As soon it is know that there is zero tolerance toward any kind of joke, comment, or impression of sexual innuendos a person may say outright "that comment violates the zero tolerance harassment policy please stop or I will report it".  The real metal test will come from HR where they really have to either fire or demote the person.  

I have already seen people escorted out of the building on Monday mornings by town police because they did not heed the warning, and this sent a real message that this company does not tolerate bad behavior.  HR is key, if they do not have any teeth, it will be all for not.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Absolute zero-tolerance policies leave no room for common sense or judgement.


Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Yes I agree, but it has to start some where, and it has to hit hard.  It is either seriously deal with the issue or you might as well do nothing.  You can't go half way.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

"It is either seriously deal with the issue or you might as well do nothing.  You can't go half way."

I disagree ... there is always room for compromise; a middle ground solution. It just takes more thought and understanding.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Compromise implies movement by both parties.  Unless "60 something" "moves", there is no compromise.

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

haha well to have a compromise both parties have to meet in the middle, so what does that mean?  Does the person who does the sexual harassment tone down his/her advancement and the victim will not complain as much?

So what's your number baby!? (man! just kidding!)

At work there should be only professional behavior and nothing else.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

No.  The compromise here would be:

"If you eliminate the sexual innuendos, I won't sue you"...

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

That is not a compromise, but an altamatum.  A compramise is where both parties can still do what they want, but has to accommodate the other parties wants.  You can't have a little sexual harassment, or just playing around sexual harassment, there has to be NO sexual harassment. Either stop or be removed.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

It msay be an ultimatum, but, to me, it is still a compromise if a solution to the problem is reached, as both parties had to change their initial stances in order to reach a solution.

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Document every incidence that you are aware of where an employee in your company has been the target of this inappropriate behavior. You have already held a meeting with him to make him aware that this type of behavior is not professional, and will not be tolerated. Did he reply that he understands? You need that reply in order to file harassment charges against him and make them stick. In your documentation list the dates these conversations took place, where they took place, what was specifically said by both parties, and anyone else who was a witness to it. You don't need to bring this documentation out until the inevitable lawsuit is filed should you decide to terminate him. Consult your legal consul in this matter for advice on how to proceed. It sounds like you have a bad apple in the barrel. Best to remove it before more damage is done.


RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

I wasn't trying to overly cautious about getting sued.  Just pointing out a land mine.  Other people have stepped on them before you.

HAs someone posted this before.

Google up the nearest EEOC office and talk to them.  
I susupect if you document a couple of instances ( description of the event with witnesses etc ) you can lead the guy to the door and say good by. Being that he is 60+ he is a protected species and you need to be careful.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!


Sorry to hear about this situation...

I am a Christian and wanted to say that this guy is out of line, totally!

None of us are perfect, but it is sad to hear that this Christian is not living (or trying to live) what he preaches...

I agree with the general concensus... Document everything and keep some witnesses.

All the best with this rather awkward situation.

RE: Sexual Innuendos-How to Stop!!

Firing people today can be tricky. Before firing this guy for cause you should consult corperate consul to be sure it is done properly. Things are often said at dissmisal to soften the blow that come back to haunt you.
Since this behavior does not fit his profile, it may very well be an early sign of dimentia, or the symptom of some other problem. Unfortunately, these problems mayt not get better with time.

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