The one about the porta-potty harassment

PortapottyHey, they can’t all be about Brazilian waxes and irresistible attraction. After the jump, we get down and dirty.

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At a hospital construction site in Kentucky, male employees used porta potties. Now, these porta-potties weren’t your standard, run-of-the-mill porta potties like the one in the picture. No, sir. They were not enclosed on top and had an additional external trough in the back in which men could urinate.

So, during her work at the construction site, Carlene Farmer, an employee of Dixon Electrical, often witnessed her male co-workers urinating in the porta-potties. She even saw their penises sometimes, even though she could have looked away. And this offended her.

Now, let me interrupt for a second right here with a true story. Because I must say that while watching construction workers emptying their bladders into an external trough may seem offensive, it’s nothing compared to my friend’s porta-potty experience. 

Imagine, if you will, the bathroom situation on Day Two of a two-day Phish concert, with no indoor plumbing. Two days with only porta-potties at a Phish concert. Let that image percolate. I don’t know about you, but there aren’t enough seat covers in the world for me to do Number 2 in one of those porta-potties, even if I were the only person there.

Consequently, I must question my friend’s decision to drop acid and go poop. Call it the perfect shit storm. Now, every time I see a porta-potty, I think of him telling me about that mountain of filth flowing like lava from a volcano and his decision to sit, rather than squat.

Now that, my friends, is offensive!

So, let’s get back to Ms. Farmer. She sued for sexual harassment. And she lost. Remember, to prove sexual harassment, the behavior about which the plaintiff complains must be gender-specific. Here, according to the court (in this opinion), it wasn’t:

Farmer found her male coworkers’ use of the portalets humiliating and degrading. But her embarrassment was not gender-specific. First, the other female workers at the hospital site were not similarly offended by the portalets. Second, many of Farmer’s male coworkers were equally embarrassed by their use. Farmer asserts that male employees were not subjected to the same hostile work environment because they are used to seeing men use the restroom. But Farmer conceded that the male employees were not comfortable with the possibility that a female employee could watch them urinating or see their genitalia. So there is simply no evidence that Farmer suffered any disadvantage because of her gender.

I know. You’re still thinking about my friend sitting on that Phish porta-potty. This will get your mind off of that.

Updated:
  • I like both the substantive post and the “side story”. Very funny!

  • Great post Eric…I liked it so much I used it as a discussion point for a harassment workshop on Wednesday afternoon! Got the group talking and resulted in an excellent discussion. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Frank. Although my buddy from the Phish concert is probably less than pleased at all this attention.