Workplace Culture

He’s a Lumberjack and, Apparently, He’s Not OK

By Jon Hyman

Jun. 19, 2013

An employee who posed in Playgirl magazine is suing his former employer for sexual harassment, reports ABC News.

18 years ago, Daniel Sawka posed as a nude lumberjack in Playgirl. Sawka alleges that when his co-workers discovered the pictures online, they began teasing him with chants of “Timber!” According to Sawka’s lawsuit [pdf], the harassment included jokes about “his genitals, and a comment about what homosexual men viewing the photos … would be doing while viewing the photos.” Sawka also claims that his co-workers downloaded or viewed the photos during work hours and on work computers.

The lessons here are two-fold:

  1. Just because an employee posed nude for money in his 20s does not mean that he is comfortable with it becoming a workplace joke in his 40s. If an employee complains, the company has an obligation to investigate and take reasonable measure to stop the harassing behavior from continuing. This rule holds true whether the employee is male or female.
  2. The Internet is permanent. Google has approximately 47 billion webpage indexed for searching. The odds are pretty good that if someone wants to dig up some dirt on your, they’ll be able to find something.

Also, this story gives me great excuse to share this Monty Python clip.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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