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October 3, 2008

Construction Worker Damaged by Dry Hump
Filed under: Construction Superintendents — Tags: — nedpelger

I found an article from a site in New Zealand that has a construction company boss saying things like,“Don’t  flick Mr C’s balls because he doesn’t like it”. I imagine I’d belong to that group of men that would prefer not to have their balls flicked as well.

I remember working as a roadie to pay for college and having a young woman, on a dare, grab my family jewels unexpectedly. A terrible feeling of helplessness came over me. Richard Nixon was correct when he said, “If we’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

I’ve copied portions of the article below.

A construction company employee has won thousands in compensation after being subjected to workplace antics such as “dry humping” and “genital flicking”.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) case, heard in Christchurch, exposed a sexually-oriented culture in the unnamed company, but one the company defended as being common within the industry.

The complainant (Mr C) worked for the company between 2005 and 2008.

He said one incident in 2007 involved the company’s managing director (Mr E) approaching him from behind while he was bending over and “rubbing his genital area” against his backside – a term the report described as “dry humping”.

Mr C said he was shocked and immediately took evasive action.

Mr E later denied knowledge of the incident, but Mr C said he must have had amnesia.

At a Christmas function the same year, Mr C said he was the subject of another unpleasant experience, which the ERA report described as “genital flicking”.

“This was a process where, when a group of workmates were standing together, typically in a social environment, one or other of them would flick at or near the genitals of a colleague nearby, allegedly with purpose of making the recipient spill his drink.”

Mr E said he recalled some genital flicking, along with Mr C’s protests, but that he had told staff “not to flick Mr C’s balls because he doesn’t like it”.

A solicitor for Mr C wrote to the company warning of the behaviour but the company replied by suggesting it was endemic within the industry.

After the genital flicking incident, Mr C was left out of a company fishing trip and told his physical safety couldn’t be guaranteed.

Mr C also alleged Mr E had made offensive remarks relating to his 25-year-old daughter.

The situation took its toll on Mr C and he ended up leaving his job through stress and wound up a sickness beneficiary.

The ERA report said witnesses generally accepted the behaviour alleged by Mr C probably happened, but that it was part of the job and Mr C in effect needed to “harden up”.

The company referred to “rituals of Kiwi mateship” involved in the building industry.

“Such rituals underpin the culture of the building and construction industry. It is not intended as sexual and is not viewed by those in the industry as sexual.”

It said steps were taken to stop Mr C being the target of rituals once it became apparent he was offended by it, and Mr C accepted that was the case.

The ERA said it had no hesitation in concluding that Mr C had suffered from the behaviour and was entitled to remedies.

It said remedying the situation by simply protecting the complainant was not satisfactory as it only ostracised him, and that a good employer would have taken steps to remove the culture altogether.

The ERA said it was treating the situation as an unjustified disadvantage action rather than unjustified dismissal.

It ordered the company to pay compensation of $12,500 plus loss in earnings between when Mr C left and the date of the hearing.

While I know this is a serious topic, I have to laugh when I read “Mr C said he was shocked and immediately took evasive action.” I can imagine Mr C serpentining across the jobsite.

So what’s the take away from this post, for myself and others? Grow Up. Don’t act like junior high school boys when you’re at work.