Friday, June 15, 2012


At an Arbitration, I was representing our Company with the case of a male Supervisor from our Company accused of sexual harassment. When the Company attorney saw the complainant, he made a crass remark: "I can't believe he would even look at her, let alone harass her." That offended my feminist sensibilities and I said angrily, "Sexual harassment is all about power; I would have thought that an educated person such as yourself should know that!" (My voice was dripping with sarcasm.) The attorney said, "You should remember which side you're on." I answered, "I know which side I'm on; if I didn't believe him, I can assure you I would not be here defending him!"

The complainant was dressed very demurely, and sans makeup. I was dressed in my usual conservative clothing. Arbitrators must be agreed on by the Company and the Union by an elimination process, and the Company attorney and I knew the Arbitrator's background and history of arbitration decisions. At a break, our attorney commented that he didn't think it was going well for us.

During that break, we were in a vending area, and I was drinking a Coca Cola. The Arbitrator asked, "Where did you find that--there's only Pepsi here?" I said, "I brought it with me--one can never trust that there will be Coke!" I was close enough to see that the Arbitrator was wearing a lapel pin with "Shiloh" on it. I knew that it would be inappropriate to talk about the case outside the hearing room, but I also wanted to use every advantage to influence him. I pointed to the pin and said, "We have a niece named Shiloh." He said, "The pin is from my church--the Shiloh Baptist Church--it's right over there", as he gestured toward the window. I walked to the window with him and I admired the church from where we were standing on the third floor of the building. The arbitrator chuckled, and asked, "How does she feel about being named after a Civil War battle?" I leapt at that opportunity and said, "Oh, no, they're very religious; it's another name for Jesus." He looked at me curiously and skeptically I thought, and said, "I've never heard it's another name for Jesus." I said, authoritatively, "Oh, yes, in Genesis, where it foretells the coming of the Messiah, it says, "When Shiloh come"; that refers to Jesus." He smiled broadly and said, "I'll have to look that up when I get home." I answered, "Or now--we had to swear on the Bible." He smiled again but he didn't do that, but called us back into session.

The attorney, who had listened to the exchange, and was obviously still irritated with me, said, "You shouldn't have been talking about religion." I said, "With that lapel pin, he was showing his religion!" He said, "Still..."; I didn't let him continue, but I said, "I'm here defending a Supervisor accused of sexual harassment and the aggrieved is sitting over there looking very demure, so I just let the arbitrator know what wonderful Christians there are in the Company!"

The Arbitrator found in our favor. I sincerely hope it was decided on the merits of the case, but I do admit to being a shameless manipulator!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At least YOU admit being a manipulator, unlike most people!