Companies warned to “de-Suttonise”

“Poor” Roger Sutton.  He’s had his name turned into a verb.  Yesterday we saw the rise of “Doing a Sutton”, and today we see pleas for people to “de-Suttonise” their behaviour.

Employers have been told to take an “arm’s length” approach with staff this Christmas to avoid employment disputes in the new year.

The warning comes after the high-profile Roger Sutton case raised questions about behaviour in the workplace.

Employment Law Institute president Mark Nutsford sent a message to employers advising them to “de-Suttonise” their behaviour at end-of-year parties.

A State Services Commission inquiry found the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive committed serious misconduct for behaviour that amounted to sexual harassment.

Sutton admitted to hugging employees and calling women “honey” and “sweetie”.

Doesn’t sound so bad when you put it that way.  How about “women were momentarily restrained without warning and against their will while Sutton forced himself on them with an unwanted embrace”?    

Nutsford said the Sutton case made many employers think about their own behaviour and he hoped there would be fewer reported cases this January.

The institute was “besieged” by calls for legal help at this time of year, when end-of-year parties could get out of hand, he said.

One incident reported at the weekend involved a boss being accused of sexual harassment for giving a female staff member a congratulatory Christmas kiss.

“Indiscretions committed in a fit of festive frivolity during December come back to haunt people and make January a very bad start to the year,” he said.

“What used to be fun hijinks in the past is no longer acceptable.

It never was acceptable.  There is just a move, rightly so, that highlights the fact that using your position of power in an employment situation to be a lecherous creep

“Sometimes it’s simple thing that upset the apple cart,” Nutsford said.

“Mind your Ps and Qs at all times.”

Messages had been sent to employers reminding them to practise a more, arm’s length relationship with their staff, Nutsford said.

It’s not rocket surgery.  Treat people with respect, and don’t touch them at all, especially uninvited hugs, kisses or touching of body parts that have nothing to do with getting the job done.



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  • Betty Swallocks

    Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, there’s this;

  • ozbob68

    The buzzword won’t last long, I remember when boxer shorts were referred to as “Tukus” after Tuku Morgan got caught paying a fortune for them and charging them to the tax payer funded Maori TV. (Google still remembers though).

  • 1951

    Wo, some of us girls are way too precious though. Some of us girls need to Grow-Up. Take things as they are intended. If it a show of compassion, accept and receive it as such. If it a show of friendship & warmth accept & receive, it does wonders for the soul. If it signals things lecherous, all you have to do is step back and stand your ground. C’mon, time to be big girls now.

    • Monito

      Could not agree more but the State Services Commission allowed the sisterhood to drive it so hard it ended Sutton’s career.

      • 1951

        Yup, it is high time things ‘sister-hood’ get hauled over the coals good&proper. Another day perhaps.

        • Monito

          I have no problem with women standing up for themselves and their rights but it has gotten to the point of stupidity with a heavy duty group of women linked to rape crisis and women’s abuse organisations who have completely infiltrated the government departments and tend to hire their own ilk. What we are seeing it seems is a group of very bitter, angry women who really hate men and make it their life’s work to destroy them.

          • 1951

            Very warped mind-set in so many of them. They need to be confronted. No-one has even attempted. Lots to tackle next year. Let’s enjoy Christmas for all its good first.

    • Dave

      A few years back, and in a senior position I was designated santa and asked to hand out the gifts at work. I never extended a hand for a hug, a handshake and smiles were offered, but many of the team wanted a hug, and was accepted in the spirit of christmas. its not about the contact, its the CONTEXT that is important. we all had a great time, and it was a great workplace and work environment.

  • Monito

    All around the country company owners and managers are being warned to avoid any kind of personal touching or contact but not in good old Christchurch where the Mayor thinks its OK to slap a kiss on the radio host! It is totally innocent but in a city that crucified Roger Sutton, it is distasteful and irresponsible.