View Full Version : Firings - Political correctness gone too far?

John Ho
02-13-2003, 07:04 PM
A bunch of friends of mine got fired yesterday from the firm I used to work at (portfolio management for high net worth clients) for "inappropriate use of email."

Basically what they did was sneak over to someone's computer when he wasn't there and sent an email to another male employee like "You are looking really good these days. Need a workout partner stud?" Not the smartest thing to do. But evidently someone complained and they were fired for gay sexual harassment. This may be the first time in history 5 very heterosexual guys were fired for sexually harassing men. One of them was fired for also referring to marijuana in one of his emails to another employee(all their emails got read after the complaint).

They were never given a warning. Just fired. And a few of these guys had put in LONG hours at this company and were in fairly high positions considering their ages (mid 20s) Truly boneheaded of them but is this a reason to get fired?

I think it's fear of litigation and PC gone too far.

02-13-2003, 07:15 PM
I'd have fired them. That rises to a level of stupidity inconsistent with what I'd want in my employees.

PS. They weren't fired for "gay sexual harassment" - they were fired for "sexual harassment." Its definition encompasses all sexual orientations. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

02-13-2003, 08:26 PM
A few guys can't even play a harmless joke without some pansy whining to the teacher, and the principal expels them;-)

I guess all these PC-type folks who want to make rules for everybody else never heard the old saying: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Michael Savage might be right after all.

02-13-2003, 09:07 PM
If it had been a pattern of harassment that would be one thing, but a single incident as described that certainly seemed to be a joke (bad taste and poor judgment, yes)...but I mean jeez, a joke's a joke...the PC-Nazis these days are really going too far...

02-13-2003, 09:47 PM
I'd have fired them instantly. The gay aspect of it is irrelevant. Sending a phony email with the intent of making it appear that someone is sexually interested in another person at the company is unacceptable, no matter how many hours they put in. To paraphrase one of our hosts, someone who would think this is OK must have other brain leaks as well that make their job performance less than optimal.

John Ho
02-13-2003, 10:22 PM
One might think that. But all these guys were high achievers at the company and quickly promoted through the ranks.

I definitely see the point of firing them though. Pretty silly of them to do that.

John Ho
02-13-2003, 10:22 PM
They sent out a lot of those emails. They were fired when someone eventually complained. It's probably safe to say they had it coming.

02-14-2003, 12:45 AM
I think the aspect most disturbing is that they used another's email without permission--the bad taste joke aspect of it isn't so terrible IMO, and if it had been just one incident (which John Ho now says it wasn't) then I can't see how it could be really considered sexual harassment--I mean it's OBVIOUSLY a joke, unless there are other ongoing aspects to it.

If someone did that to me I would be quite mad they used my email, but I would think the joke aspect miles away from being sexual harassment. So if they got fired for unauthorized use of others' email I think that could possibly be appropriate, but if they got fired for sexual harassment I think it's a crock.

02-14-2003, 03:00 AM
You didn't say much about the guy they sent it to. Given that many organizations have been successfully sued for sexual harasssment, it's not surprising at all. Companies aren't going to be the least bit tolerant of any kind of sexual harassment nor should they be expected to.

John Cole
02-14-2003, 08:09 AM
I already wonder what set of special skills, then, it requires to become a low achiever at this firm given the rather dubious actions of these high achievers.


02-14-2003, 08:22 AM
A good friend of mine--a very nice, non-aggressive sort of individual--once asked an acquaintance at work if she would like to go out for dinner sometime. She said no thanks, and that was the end of that--or so my friend thought. That afternoon my friend got called down by his boss because the girl had complained of sexual harassment, and he got lectured and warned not to speak with her again.

I can see your point that firms may need to protect themselves. I also think the PC climate in this country is quite ridiculous.

John Ho
02-14-2003, 08:42 AM
That is the most ridiculous overgeneralization I've ever heard. You can't (in your vast knowledge) accept the fact that young men working 50-70 hours a week for 6-7 years with only 2 weeks vacation a year (and little vacation time around the holiday season) could do something like this and still be highly productive, intelligent people? It's a very stressful environment and they were just unwinding. It was stupid and I understand why the company terminated them but this is a result of a litigious society gone mad.


John Ho
02-14-2003, 08:45 AM
I agree. The company has all the liability if they don't terminate their employment. Basically, any employee who received one of those emails could hold that over the company's head forever with the threat of a lawsuit.

Bad judgement on their part. It's sad, though, that we live in a world where you can't give a warning before turning someone's life upside down. They LIVED for that firm. I did not but while I was there it was an exciting time. We shorted the market during most of the bear and did great for our clients.

John Ho
02-14-2003, 08:46 AM
Unfortunately, there are some guys who just can't take no for an answer. They ruin it for the vast majority of guys who might want to take a girl they work with out.

02-14-2003, 08:54 AM
I really think it's none of the corporation's business unless one party doesn't take "no" for an answer.

02-14-2003, 11:08 AM
I understand your point. It's best advised IMO to tread very lightly in a work environment.

02-14-2003, 12:23 PM
I don't know about this particular situation, but in general I am sick of all these sensitive nancy-boy wussies. I mean seriously, maybe what the guys did was stupid, but who would you rather have investing your money, some mean guy or some wuss who gets offended by a joke enough that he gets other people fired? How can someone handle the ups and downs of the real world if he can't take someone making fun of him. If someone's like "hey pretty boy" and he starts crying what happens when he loses $1000000 how does he not go on tilt? People need to get in more fights when they're young it's as simple as that /forums/images/icons/smile.gif.

John Cole
02-14-2003, 03:40 PM
Productive? Perhaps. Intelligent? Certainly not in my estimation. Quite frankly, as a teenager I had better judgment about matters such as these. (And, don't get me wrong: my judgment and taste in other matters may have been very poor.) I would not have considered this a joke or funny at 17. I would guess these productive, valuable assests have learned their lesson, and it's got nothing to do with polical correctness. Next time they decide to engage in a "joke" at someone else's expense, they may be a bit more circumspect. For them, their firing is a blessing, perhaps, and, in their next job, they can demonstrate, once again, their productivity and intelligence. I hope they can also show off their wisdom this time.


P.S. Next time they might decide to play basketball when they feel the urge to do a "little unwinding."

John Ho
02-14-2003, 04:37 PM
You don't think what they did was funny? I thought it was hilarious but stupid to put themselves in that position.

But it's hard to deny it was funny. 99% of the people who got and received those messages thought it was funny when they found out about it. Just takes 1% to get fired though.

02-14-2003, 05:11 PM
If someone sent me that message by email I would think it funny.

If someone used my email account to send such a message to a co-worker I would be pissed--not at the message, but at the unauthorized use of my email account--but I could still probably be persuaded that it was funny provided the perps did it in a spirit of practical joking rather than with true malicious intent.

At one of our casinos in CT a rather rough-edged female player called one of the dealers a faggot (I assume after receiving a bad beat), and it could be heard 1 1/2 tables away. Maybe it's immature of me, but I thought it was funny--and would have thought so had it been directed at me instead. Out-of-place and absurd = funny in my view, generally speaking.

Persistent harassment is of course a very different matter.

02-14-2003, 05:43 PM
I don't know the circumstances of the incident. The person it was directed against could have been on the receiving end of a lot of "jokes" and simply was tired of putting up with it. I've witnessed situations where people were picked on before in places of employment because they were different somehow. Cliques develop sometimes at places of employment and if you aren't in, your out. Perhaps that was part of it. Obviously somebody didn't think it was rip roaring funny.

02-14-2003, 06:38 PM
I think a lot depends on the particulars.

John Cole
02-15-2003, 08:26 PM

I would object because an obvious homophobic term jumps into someone's mind rather than, say, "right wing conservative hate radio idiot." I don't suppose many people would find it funny if she, or the email crowd, had used an ethnic slur instead.


Ray Zee
02-15-2003, 09:36 PM
i agree with you glenn. this type of firm is a loose goose thing and the people that make these firms are the same breed. so they need some rope. too many people get upset when faced with a little crap. we have created a society of total wimps, with nothing better to do than worry about what someone thinks of them. and then complains about not having any protection for their sweet little posteriors.
hey, what happenned to real men, boys.

John Ho
02-15-2003, 10:26 PM
At the very least they should have been given a warning rather than just fired. But even if they were given a warning their careers, for the most part, would have been over anyways. There's no way you can promote people who have exercised such bad judgement (since other employees will be outraged and it sets a bad example). So either they were stuck in the positions they had forever or eventually would have quit on their own.

But I don't agree that being personally sensitive has any bearing on the ability to navigate the stock market. It is pathetic though to go crying to a manager because you're getting these stupid emails. I was about the only Asian guy there (and the only Asian in sales) and got the jokes all the time. Some of them went over the line but I accepted the fact you just can't fix someone who is stupid.

02-15-2003, 11:41 PM
Somehow an ethnic slur would have seemed much worse.

I object to what she said in principle too; I'm just saying it struck me as insensitive, crude, out-of-place, ridiculous--and somehow funny. It's certainly not something that would spill out of my mouth, and I'm not defending my sense of humor.

I do however believe in free speech and if someone wants to display their ignorance and crudeness, I say let them. I don't think the government, or corporations, or universities, should assume the role of policeman as to what free people can or cannot say.

Perhaps I tend to favor Libertarianism over Conservatism.

The email incident above all showed poor judgment IMO.