I took the biannual "NO FEAR" training today. This waste of time followed from a 2002 law (that stemmed, bizarrely, from a discrimination lawsuit against the EPA that the plaintiff won - why was another law needed?) prohibiting retaliation against whistleblowers in the government. We have to sit through an 80-minute narrated slideshow that presents various discriminatory scenarios, discusses the applicable law, segues into whistleblower protections, and gives little quizzes along the way. What I got out of it was
- anything is sexual harassment if an employee feels harassed
- third parties can be harassed (e.g., by witnessing behavior that makes the third party uncomfortable), even if the recipient of the behavior is not offended
- supervisors can be responsible for behavior for which they are unaware.
What kind of a world is this? How are people supposed to interact when there are no objective standards for liability? The whole thing creates perverse incentives. For example, do these types of laws discourage employers from hiring people in protected classes - that is, why hire the first Muslim, or the first person with a disability, in the office, lest the employer find himself or herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit later on?
As a result of my training, I'm now afraid to speak with