Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Dankprofessor is staggered by widening Georgia sexual scandals

Georgia’s State Department of Transportation has been shocked by two major sexual scandals that involve the ruling powers that be at the DOT.

Gena L. Abraham, Georgia’s state transportation commissioner, who is the first woman to run what is one of the most powerful government agencies in the state, is likely to step down as the commissioner.

Such is likely to be the case since the NY Times reported that on

“last Thursday evening, the transportation board chairman, Mike Evans, shocked members in an executive session with the news that he was involved in a romantic relationship with Ms. Abraham. Department policy forbids intimate relationships between subordinates and their superiors.”

Both Ms. Abraham and Mr. Evans, 47, are single.

Mr. Evans, a developer from Cumming, Ga., who had recently won a bitter re-election battle for the board, resigned his post and his seat on the board. The board announced that he would be replaced by the vice chairman, Garland Pinholster, until a new chairman could be elected in May.

By Monday, however, Mr. Pinholster had also stepped down as chairman as news spread of a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by two department employees.

Ms. Abraham had said on Friday that she would resign. But she backed away from that position after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle raced to the department’s offices and called her into a meeting in a stairwell there, with a guard posted outside the door.

On Monday, the board voted 8 to 3 to reprimand Ms. Abraham for failing to report the romantic relationship in a timely manner, but not to dismiss her.

The revelations about Ms. Abraham and Mr. Evans surfaced just three weeks after she sent a memorandum to all department employees saying she would not tolerate misconduct or violations of department policy.

“The sheer number of offenses that we are discovering is staggering and embarrassing to the department,” she wrote in the memorandum, which was dated March 31, and she added that she would not hesitate to fire employees for unethical or unlawful behavior.

Ms. Abraham later admitted that when she sent the memorandum she was already romantically involved with Mr. Evans.

“I was very hopeful for Gena Abraham, and I still am,” Mr. Lewis said. “It won’t be easy for her to come out of this, but before everyone found out she was falling in love with the chairman of the board, it wasn’t going to be easy either.”

But others believe that Ms. Abraham’s days at the department may be numbered.

Still, other longtime employees were philosophical about the drama surrounding the department.

“It’s a little surreal, obviously,” said David Spear, a department spokesman. “But I’ve been around for a long time, and affairs of the heart have their own agenda.”

The dankprofessor puts Gena Abraham in the same category as Eliot Spitzer- utter hypocrites.

Ms. Abraham may find the behavior of her subordinates at the DOT as embarrassing and staggering, but such does not compare to the staggering and embarrassing behavior engaged in by Ms. Abraham.  In fact, the dankprofessor is staggered.  I am in a Lloyd Price state of staggerlee.  Threatening to fire employees for the same behavior that she was engaging in is just not acceptable.  She should do the same thing that Spitzer did, resign.

Of course, the dankprofessor does not hold that her having a consensual relationship with the Board Chairman of the DOT is wrong or unethical.  It’s simply no ones business when adults are engaged in a consensual sexual relationship.  Policies banning sexual relationships in the workplace or the university place simply do not work.  What they work to do is to facilitate lying, dishonesty and fraudulent administrators.

University administrators, corporate administrators, administrators in the public sector are not competent to supervise the sexual lives of their employees, and some like Ms. Abrahams are not competent to supervise themselves ethically or sexually. 

Both the University of Georgia and the State of Georgia are not competent when it comes to dealing with the sexual lives of others.  The only policy that would appear to be a viable policy for both the state and university is a laissez faire policy except for those behaviors which function to directly sexually constrain others.  And even in this area, we must have administrators who are constrained by due process of law.

I agree with David Spear, a DOT spokesman who said ” …I’ve been around for a long time, and affairs of the heart have their own agenda.”  Amen, and lets stop others from imposing and preaching and hypocrising their own sexual agendas on others.

 —–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, office romance, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, University of Georgia, workplace | Leave a comment

Israeli court bans consensual sex in the workplace

In what the dankprofessor considers a bizarre ruling, the Israeli National Labor Court found that a sexual relationship between an employer and employee can never be considered consensual even if the employee was the initiator and seducer. And if the relationship was purely sexually focused, the employer has engaged in sexual harassment.

The court stated- “in cases of a relationship that is in essence opportunistic sexual relations in the workplace, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the superior, even if it proven that the subordinate seduced him.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, women activists and experts in work relations have welcomed the court decision even though the relationship was voluntary and mutual and may have been initiated by the subordinate.

Attorney for the plaintiff, Sigal Pa’il stated “there must be a clear and unequivocal message regarding the norms of conduct in hierarchical relations at the workplace to turn it as much as possible into a sterile place free of intimate relations between employer and employee. The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law imposes extra responsibility on the employer to prevent sexual harassment, especially inside the workplace.”

A panel of five judges awarded damages to a 43-year-old woman who maintained a sexual relationship with the chief engineer of the company.  As reported by the Jerusalem Post-

The chief engineer was head of several departments, including the one in which the plaintiff worked. The relationship was entirely sexual and took place in the office, in the car on the way to or from work and at the beach. Each was married when they met.

The district court accepted the man’s claim that the woman had flirted with and tried to seduce him. It also ruled that the plaintiff was obliged to provide stronger proof to back her charges than she would in ordinary civil suit.

Nonetheless, National Labor Court Judge Varda Wirth Livne wrote that “I place the main burden of responsibility on the person who had the authority and attribute less responsibility to the employee who worked under him.

“This is the precedent which I would like to bring to my decision. When we are talking about a relationship that entails nothing more than occasional sex in the security room of the work place, and when, even according to the superior’s version, the relationship did not include anything more than sex, all the responsibility falls on the superior and there is no relevance to the fact that the employee tried to seduce him by wearing provocative clothes or acting in a certain way.” Wirth Livne added that “the aim of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law is to convey a message to employers and superiors that sexual-intimate relations between a superior and an employee which includes no more than sexual acts in the work place should be perceived as inappropriate behavior which should be regarded as sexual harassment while exploiting one’s authority.”

So if one is to take Judge Varda Livne seriously, then a relationship in the workplace between an employer and employee involving both love and sex would be “acceptable”. Some how I doubt that love would be allowed to trump sex.

 The dankprofessor also doubts the Jerusalem Post’s characterization that “women activists and experts in work relations have welcomed the court decision”. Have women activists in Israel really reached a level where they would eagerly embrace such a convoluted decision?

The attorney for the plaintiff did get it right when he stated that this decision will help to turn the workplace as much as possible into a sterile place free of intimate relations. And the consequences of this decision and similar court decisions do lead to sterile workplaces and when applicable to sterile university places. The tragedy and the absurdity is that too many people welcome such sterility although the welcoming may very well be for other people and not for themselves.

ADDENDUM- Some how the dankprofessor missed, but what should have been obvious, is that the court embraced the campus feminist cant that differential power precludes consent.  Unfortunately, this genre of American feminism has found a home in Israeli courts.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 29, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, feminism, Israel, litigation, love, office romance, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics | 1 Comment

THE HANDY HANDBOOK OF OFFICE LOVE*

The Sacramento Business Journal has THE solution; they know how to protect business owners, particularly small business owners,  from the pitfalls of intraoffice romance and sexual harassment lawsuits

Quoting from the business journal-

“Advisers to small businesses agree that a company can’t forbid romantic relationships in the workplace, but say they should consider policies that strongly discourage dating, especially between supervisors and subordinates. Experts also say companies should clearly outline policies on harassment and dating in an employee handbook — something many small businesses lack.

Love can bloom between coworkers at any time. Companies small and large would be wise to make sure an employee handbook is in place and policies on relationships are included, said Panda Morgan, director of the Greater Sacramento Small Business Development Center.

An employee handbook might seem like a trivial aspect of business, but it can be an important tool when relationships turn sour and harassment complaints or wrongful termination claims are made.

“The problem with small businesses is most don’t have employee handbooks because they don’t really see a need until something happens, and they realize their hands are tied and they can’t do anything about it,” Morgan said.”

After reading this article, The dankprofessor went out into the field in search of the handbook.  He found one entitled THE HANDY HANDBOOK OF OFFICE LOVE which was revised from the pioneer HANDY HANDBOOK ON UNIVERSITY LOVE*.  No date or publisher listed.  The dankprofessor will summarize the core handbook rules-

HANDS OFF

NO HANDS IN POCKETS

HANDS ON THE TABLE

HANDS UP

NO HANDY MEN

HANDLE WITH CARE

NO SHAKY HANDS

NO HANDSOME MEN

HANDS TIED

and if all else fails- KEEP HANDS CUFFED AT ALL TIMES.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

February 14, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, love, office romance, Uncategorized, workplace | Leave a comment

Office romance in full bloom on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day this year at the office may very well be better than the Valentine’s days of the recent past. According to many, romance in the office is flourishing.

Yesterday psychologist Susan Pinker reported that “surveys on office love affairs reveal they’re incredibly common, with about 10 million consensual romances developing between co-workers each year in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of the population of a small European nation meeting at the photocopier, year after year…In fact, studies designed to probe the private lives of executives, and managers by such august groups as the Society of Human Resource Management and the U.S. Bureau of National Affairs simply document the obvious: Now that we’re spending most of our time at the office, that’s the place to meet prospects, with a third of all romances starting out in the workplace.”

Workers aren’t just interested in dating their peers. PR News Wire reports “that twenty-seven percent of workers admit they have dated someone with a higher position in their organization; female workers more so than males, at 37 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of workers said their relationship with someone at work did nothing to progress their career.”

Pinker goes on to report that “half of the romantic relationships that begin at work last, resulting in marriage or a long term relationship, while only 5 per cent provoke formal complaints…Let’s face it: offices are “natural theatres” for social and sexual interaction, a phrase coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild. As such, there’s great potential for drama, but also for applause…If the new couple has even a chance to be happy, the team should back off and just let these folks be.”

 Unfortunately it’s that 5 per cent that gets upset when love is seen as blooming in the workplace. And they have at their disposal lawyers who are at their call and become united with the Linda Tripps of the world in their love of money.

But in any case, Pinker gets it right. If only we could “just let these folks be”. Or in the words of the Beatles, “Let It Be”.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

February 14, 2008 Posted by | dating, love, office romance, workplace | 1 Comment

   

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