How to Handle Sexual Harassment as an Employer

The #MeToo movement exploded into America’s consciousness in the Fall of 2017, shaking executive offices and boardrooms across the country. Initially promoted in 2006 by women of color who had suffered sexual abuse, the movement became mainstream on social media after actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The massive response to her tweet was unexpected and became the basis for a national movement.
Encouraged by movie stars recounting their experiences, millions of women (and some men) have written or spoken about their mistreatment by powerful men and women. For many, the extent of sexual harassment and abuse in our male-dominated society was a revelation as it became clear that no sphere — schools, sports organizations, government agencies, churches, or workplaces — has been immune to the powerful exploiting the powerless for generations.
The consequences of sexual misconduct are swift in today’s climate. As TIME magazine reports, “Nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.” Time’s Up, an advocacy group formed in 2018, focuses solely on sexual harassment and women’s issues in the workplace. One of their aims is to bring about additional federal and state legislation to punish companies that tolerate harassment.
While many companies have had sexual harassment policies in place for decades, this new atmosphere places managers under even stronger pressure to uphold these policies and provide employees with a safe, supportive working environment. If you’re a manager wondering how the #MeToo movement affects your responsibilities, here is what you need to know.

How Extensive Is the Problem?

WIRED magazine reports that the extent of harassment in the workplace is unknown due to the increased use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in settlement negotiations. Confidentiality provisions can hide the acts of serial abuse by powerful, wealthy men such as current President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Roger Ailes for years. As former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Ailes to escape the NDA she signed with Fox in 2013, told WIRED, these agreements “both silence the victim and fool our culture into thinking we’ve come so far when we have not.”
Women have silently endured sexual harassment in the workplace for generations. In previous generations, they rarely reported or spoke of these instances for fear they might lose their jobs or chances for promotion. A 2016 study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that three-quarters of working women had experienced unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion (including physical touching) on the job, but less than 10% filed a formal complaint.
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Living on a Boat Year Round

Like many raised in the dry plains of West Texas, I’ve always been fascinated with water, from rivers and lakes to the mother of all, the ocean. My attraction to the sea was nurtured by the TV shows and novels of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s that featured characters with homes on the water.
There was Sonny Crockett of “Miami Vice,” the ultra-cool police detective who lived on an Endeavor 42 sailboat, and Quincy M.E., the Los Angeles medical examiner in a series of the same name who lived on a sailboat in Marina Del Rey, Calif. John McDonald wrote 20 novels about private eye Travis McGee, who won his houseboat “Busted Flush” in a poker game. Across the pond, Scotland yard detective John Maven lived on a covered barge in the Thames in Donald MacKenzie’s Raven book series.
As these examples illustrate, we often associate living on the water with wealth, adventure, and freedom. But is it something you could realistically do full-time? Let’s take a closer look at what living on the water entails.

Popular Places for Water Residence

Paul Miles, a narrowboat (i.e., canal boat) owner, claims in Financial Times that more than 10,000 people live on boats in London and more than a quarter of England’s 33,000 inland boats are permanent residences. There are similar resident boating communities around the world, including an ocean community in Hong Kong where foreign airline pilots live until their contracts are finished.
While there are no reliable statistics regarding the number of people in the United States who live on boats year-round, also known as “liveaboards,” the blog BetterBoat notes, “there are all sorts of great places to live [in the U.S.] aboard a boat” thanks to 95,471 of miles of coastlines (including Hawaii and Alaska), plenty of rivers, and oh-so-many lakes. Those who prefer saltwater to freshwater might consider the following locations.

  • San Diego, CA. The climate is hard to beat — never too hot or too cold — and laws and regulations are favorable to boat living. While it’s illegal to drop anchor offshore for extended periods, there are plenty of clean, orderly, and safe marinas. Expect to pay a premium for a slip large enough to accommodate a boat fit for full-time living. After all, San Diego is among the most beautiful areas in the country.
  • Corpus Christi, TX. Those who prefer to live on the Gulf Coast will enjoy this coastal city and its naval roots. Local laws favor boat residence, and the cost of marina slips is less expensive than in popular areas on either coast.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Area. There are multiple marinas in cities around Maryland and Virginia that are generally protected from harsh weather. Expect to pay $5,000 to $8,000 annually for a marina and other costs here.

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The Pros & Cons of Pool Ownership

“Success will be when I can have a real swimming pool instead of the fifty-dollar one I buy at Kmart every year,” quips singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff. For many, pools are a status symbol signifying “luxury, leisure, and above all, glamor,” according to Lucy Scholes of the BBC. They’re also a lot of fun.

Swimming is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the United States, behind only exercise walking, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It improves flexibility, stretches muscles, and helps you lose weight. According to Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and triathlete, an hour of vigorous swimming burns up to 700 calories — more calories than walking or biking for the same duration.

It also offers mental health benefits. In his book “Blue Mind,” Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols claims that humans feel better when they interact with water, which can put us into a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life.”

Once considered a luxury only the wealthiest could afford, private swimming pool ownership has exploded since the 1950s and 1960s as a result of higher incomes, improved technology, and new pool financing sources. Today, approximately 10.4 million homes in the United States have swimming pools, according to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. Should your home be one of them? Let’s take a look.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pool

While a swimming pool can be great fun for you and your family, pool ownership isn’t something to be entered into lightly. Here are the questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether to install a swimming pool or purchase a home with a pool installed.

1. How Old Are Your Children?

Children and teenagers tend to use swimming pools more than other age groups, spending more time swimming than doing other recreational activities, according to the Census Bureau.

I built a pool when my children ranged from two to seven years of age. They were in it almost every day in the spring, summer, and early fall until they left for college. However, having neither the time nor inclination to swim, my wife and I rarely used the pool after that until our first grandchild arrived.

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Fake News

8 Ways to Determine If a News Story Is Reliable

Fake News

During a 2017 interview on the Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network, President Donald Trump claimed his use of the word “fake” to describe the media was “one of the greatest of all terms [he’d] come up with.”

While he was mistaken about his creation of the phrase “fake news,” Trump’s frequent use of the epithet to describe news media has no doubt popularized the label — and may have even led to the phrase’s inclusion in the database.

It may seem at times like fake news is an epidemic unique to our current political climate, but it’s actually been around for centuries. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, how it spreads, and what you can do to detect it.

What Is Fake News?

As its name suggests, fake news is false or counterfeit information reported in a newspaper, news periodical, or newscast.

Fake news differs from satire, farce, or hyperbole in that it’s a deliberate attempt to spread misinformation and manipulate public opinion for political, financial, or social gain. Inaccurate content is packaged to appear as fact, thus duping the audience into believing it’s true.

A story doesn’t have to be totally made-up to mislead; it’s enough to present subtle misrepresentations, critical omissions, or out-of-context information. Examples of recent misleading or false information include claims that:

  • President Barak Obama was born outside the U.S.
  • Senator Ted Cruz was bribed to pass legislation that put America’s public lands in the hands of the Koch brothers for mining and other business pursuits.
  • The Affordable Care Act established a “death panel” to determine healthcare benefits for the sick and elderly.
  • Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President. (A later report revealed that the Pope supported Hillary Clinton.)
  • Millions of illegal voters voted in the 2016 presidential election.

All of the above have been labeled false by fact-checking organizations like PolitiFact, FactCheck, OpenSecrets, and Snopes, yet there are still those who believe these stories to be true.

Why does fake news spread so rapidly? As Craig Silverman of Neiman Reports writes in the Columbia Journalism Review: “[T]he forces of untruth have more money, more people, and… much better expertise. They know how to birth and spread a lie better than we know how to debunk one. They are more creative about it, and, by the very nature of what they’re doing, they aren’t constrained by ethics or professional standards. Advantage, liars.”

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