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October 01, 2005

Potty Training Sexual Harassers

Mark A. R. Kleiman is complaining that the state of California is requiring all supervisors on state payroll to attend "sexual harassment prevention training" sessions. He takes this oddly libertarian line that he has a constitutional "right not to be compelled to listen" to things he doesn't want to hear.

On the legal front, if Mark's employer was a private employer, there would be absolutely zero constitutional limit on his employer punishing him for anything. Under the Constitution, the Bill of Rights ceases to exist once you enter the workplace. Now, there are limits on how the government can restrict the rights of its own employees -- but not that many in regards to what happens in the workplace itself.

But aside from the constitutional issues, I find Mark's libertarian rhetoric against sexual harassment training for those WITH POWER over other people to be very misplaced. The point of ending sexual harassment is to expand the freedom of women from restrictions imposed through non-legal means by sexism in the workplace. He may feel that the law is restricting his freedom, but many women would feel it is expanding theirs. Just as all civil rights laws restrict the freedom of employers and others with power to expand the freedom of those subject to that power.

And if a supervisor is unwilling to change their behavior to avoid sexual harassment of subordinates, then freedom for other employees calls for firing that supervisor. That's not "Maoism" or "political correctness," just protecting the freedom of employees from what is usually unrestricted abuse of their freedoms by supervisory staff.

Posted by Nathan at October 1, 2005 02:48 PM