Sexual Harassment on the “Big Bang” Theory

WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOWSexual Harassment and the big bang theory

“The whole universe is in a hot dense state . . .” well, in regard to sexual harassment in the work place, yes, it is.  Employers often find sexual harassment lawsuits as quite a surprise, or as the labor lawyers at Beck Law call it, a very expensive “Big Bang.”

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Today

A recent episode of The Big Bang Theory on  CBS  shows us the realities and confusion of the human experience in conjunction with current laws regarding what is considered sexual harassment in the workplace today.

Take it from Sheldon Cooper, who tries to counsel an employee by showing her photos of venereal diseases and  telling her “Your ovaries are squirting so much goofy juice into your brain you don’t know which way is up.”

Sheldon believes he is being completely professional here.  Sheldon understands science, not social nuances.  Employers must take heed of Sheldon’s fumbling and carefully train supervisors with in depth role playing to ensure that they fully understand what actions are permissible in the workplace.

To make matters worse, because he is Sheldon, he tells his HR manager that she is “brown sugar . . . a slave to her biological urges” and called her “an egg salad sandwich.”

The episode demonstrates that although an employee’s intentions can be very innocent and honest, and meant to provide positive re-enforcement, it does not necessarily matter what the employee/ supervisor meant to say, or what their intentions were. What matters is how the receiver of the information perceived what was said. An employer must perform due diligence training of supervisors and employees to ensure that they deliver the correct message, in the correct tone and manner.

Employees, like Sheldon Cooper, may be totally unaware of what they are saying and how they are affecting those around them.

The difficulty here lies in social nuance. The skill is in the delivery of the message, rather than the intent, although one would never show web photos of venereal diseases under any circumstances to a fellow employee, this is just for TV.  Clearly, Sheldon’s intent is not malicious, the effect is.

Language training in the workplace, so that employees deliver the correct message is complex for an employer and a supervisor to grasp:  it is more about the meaning behind the words, and not always the words themselves (although with Sheldon the words were clearly wrong as well).

Employers need to keep abreast in knowing the current legalities of what to say and what not to say in the workplace. It is about what the law determines to be appropriate, yet not all persons understand how to behave, nor is it necessarily in their nature to grasp the meaning of what the laws dictate, even when they try to behave with well intentions to all employees.

Any time a harassment complaint is filed, the employer is legally obligated to investigate and reconcile the issue. Some situations require that the employee no longer works in close proximity to others until an independent outside investigation is performed, and sometimes employees must be terminated. There are many factors to consider when handling a sexual harassment complaint as an employer. Legal counsel and independent investigations are provided by the attorneys at Beck Law PC regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.


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