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Nuclear Fallout

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But not in Japan.  Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn are making headlines they probably wish they had never made.  While I’m not a man and can, therefore, only surmise that the root of the problem somehow goes back to The Man Gene, as John Phillips so eloquently calls it, their current woes bring to the forefront issues that some employers – or at least their supervisors – sometimes face but don’t often think about, i.e., what happens when a supervisor either engages in or is accused of sexual harassment.  When we are faced with such situations, our focus is usually on the company’s potential liability and what we can do to either prevent or limit such liability.  Of course, the best case scenario is to not have such accusations in the first place.  And, one of the best preventative measures employers can implement is training.  Oddly enough, supervisors tend to think twice about their actions when they are reminded of the consequences, which include not only potential civil liability under some state anti-discrimination statutes and other common law theories, but also the nuclear fallout that often occurs.  I’m talking about the hurt caused to their families (even if the accusations prove to be wrong), their reputations, and their jobs (assuming they still have one).  Schwarzenegger’s indiscretions may cost him at least two of these things and may now lead to an investigation into whether he used campaign money to pay for women.  Strauss-Kahn is on suicide watch, appears to have been dismissed from his high-power position, and may be watching his political career explode.  While most of our supervisors may not be in as high-profile positions as these two men, the resulting fallout can be just as devastating.  Maybe it’s a good time to remind them.                                                                         - Karen Smith

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