If someone at a construction project hinted that they might punch you in the face, you'd know right away that you were being bullied.
If someone at a construction project said you had a nice face, you'd probably be a little confused at first.
Indirect threats of violence aren't necessarily against the law, but nowadays you can't go another week without hearing something about school or cyber-bullying. Not surprisingly, anti-bullying laws which cover verbal and emotional torments in the workplace have been introduced in 21 state legislatures but business has succeeded in shooting them down.
Indirect expressions of sexual interest, if they are repeated, persistent and create a hostile work environment, are a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The bad behavior, sexual harassment and bullying should be diminishing as people wise up.
Do you know or see any sexual harassment or bullying at your construction job? We'd like to know and invite you to comment below.
Not surprisingly, in an industry that's still mostly worked by men, men file about one out of five sexual harassment lawsuits. There have been a handful of spectacular cases of abuse from Louisiana recently, such as the Kerry Woods v. Boh Bros. case, the Cherry vs. Shaw Coastal case, and another case involving Shaw Group, where a young man says he was hounded by co-workers and even assaulted when they held him down an stuck a pen in him.
ENR's been counting the cases of sexual harassment in the industry that have come to conclusions that show up in legal databases, and there have been about 80 in the last 10 years.
Most of them get thrown out or overturned on appeal, including the ones where men harass other men. Although there may have been despicable behavior involved, judges are ruling that the accusations just don't rise to the legal definition of persistent and part of a hostile work environment.
Judges also have said, as they did in overturning the decision against Boh Bros., that Title VII wasn't written to clean up the culture of the construction industry or to stop men from horsing around or even behaving cruelly.
I consider these same-sex harassment cases involving men to be proxies that show what could happen if anti-bullying laws for the workplace ever are widely adopted. Meaning waves of costly lawsuits.
Has any of this kind of harassment and bullying happened at construction or design companies where you work?
Let us know by commenting below, and remember, you can make up a user-name so no one will be able to see who you are.
We'll be putting the results of our special report investigations in the Nov. 26 issue of ENR. We think the industry has a lot to gain from making sure civilized behavior is enforced, not the least of which is keeping millions of dollars from being wasted on lawsuits. That and the rights of workers being respected.
What do you think? Remember, all you have to do is register with a username to comment anonymously. We'd appreciate hearing from you.