Whiskey-soaked chauvinism, unmistakable sexual harassment and downright atrocious vulgarity flood the small screen on AMC’s hit show “Mad Men,” where the portrayal of women in the workplace in the 1960’s is actually quite accurate, according to historians.
Would Joan Holloway Harris have been made partner had it not been for her busty cleavage and willingness to be intimate with a client in exchange for a crucial contract? Would the beautiful (though typically dim) secretaries have kept their jobs if they didn’t let the sleazy serial womanizers they worked for make crude comments and raunchy gestures? Chances are, the answer to both of those questions is a big. fat. no. After all, there was no piece of legislation to prohibit sex discrimination in employment until 1964.
“Go home, take a paper bag, cut some eyeholes out of it. Put it over your head, get undressed and look at yourself in the mirror. Really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are. And be honest,” head secretary Joan advised a new-hire. Not “brush up on your keystrokes” or “learn how to more effectively multitask.” Those things didn’t matter in another era, when sexy high heels and sultry red lipstick could do the trick.
Even when feminist game-changer and corporate climber Peggy Olsen publicly defended her role in the office and jumped to the head secretary’s defense, her response from Joan was less enthusiastic than Peggy may have expected. “Well, no matter how powerful we get around here, they can still just draw a cartoon. So all you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary and you’re another humorless b*tch.”
We want to explore possible repercussions of Mad Men-eque sexual harassment and discrimination in the modern world, with today’s laws, if these workplace dynamics had been left unchanged. State and federal anti-harassment laws are now in place to require that employers take all reasonable actions to prevent unlawful harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a prime concern and can come in various different forms of conduct – visual, verbal and physical.
According to the U.S. Department of State, conditioning promotions, awards, training or other job benefits upon acceptance of unwelcome actions of a sexual nature, are always wrong. Others, like the following, are inappropriate and may end in termination. Let’s find out who on the cast of “Mad Men” would still have their jobs.
Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo, in person or via e-mail: So long, Roger Sterling. We’ll miss you, you silver fox.
Verbal abuse of a sexual nature; Touching or grabbing of a sexual nature: That didn’t take long, Don Draper. We bid adieu to the head of creative. Harry Crane, you’re pushing your luck here.
Repeatedly standing too close to or brushing up against a person: Pervy Pete Campbell’s job might be in jeopardy here. Frequently asking a person to socialize during off-duty hours when the person has said no or has indicated he or she is not interested (supervisors especially): Okay, now Pete’s canned for sure.
Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive: Guilty again, Roger. Would you leave Joan alone already?!
Making or posting sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons or other materials in the workplace: Stan Rizzo, as much as we love your work you’re outta here.
Off-duty, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that affects the work environment: Let’s just say the office is dwindling at this point. Bertram Cooper suddenly has more wall space for his eccentric works of art.
Even if these fellas could find some way to hold down their job after the heinous behavior they have exhibited, they would be subject to some serious penalties. Employers who are found guilty of sexual discrimination or harassment are responsible for the payments of employees’ lost wages, future lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney costs and court fees, as well as reinstatement or promotion of the victim. Do you think Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce would survive the tornado of sexual harassment lawsuits?