When Is A Picture Sexual Harassment?

A Professor of Human Resource Management writes:

The Dish Scrotum-thread has so many confounded ideas occurring. Sexual harassment occurs when one person makes sexual advances, sexual propositions, or inappropriate sexual language toward another person inside of or under the auspices of an organization. The now famous Dish Scrotum photo wouldn’t fall under sexual harassment.

Some of your readers have concerns about how their coworkers or supervisors would react should they walk by at the same instance that the Dish Scrotum photo was on screen. This concern would fall under a hostile work environment claim. A hostile work environment, which does not necessarily include sexual advances/language, occurs when an event (action, situation, statement) would prohibit a reasonable person from completing his or her work duties. This typically implies persistence, not a one-off Dish Scrotum photo appearance. Does the Dish Scrotum photo rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment? Would seeing that photo cause a reasonable person to not be able to complete his or her job (or in the extreme cause someone not to come to work)? No on both counts.

This isn’t to say that your readers aren’t justified in their concerns. Employers, due to costly litigation, tend to act conservatively with these kinds of issues. Since the US is an “at will” employment country (i.e., terminated or quit at will without needing to give justification), employers might find it easier and cheaper to cut ties with an employee for (inadvertently) looking at the Dish Scrotum photo.

Nor does any of this have to do with the “Nanny State.” That was some misplaced hyperbole on your part.