A well-known employee was recently terminated from Purple Communications, Inc. It was shared with The Deaf Report that the reason for their termination was due to reports of sexual harassment while at work. It is believed that the person in question sexually harassed no less than four women at work over their 8+ year tenure at Purple (at least two women this year alone). Some commentary has arisen that the former employee is not the only person to have been terminated from Purple for inappropriate conduct. There are multiple employees still present at Purple who are participating in activities that contribute to an unhealthy work environment.
Disciplinary actions, including termination, due to sexual and/or non-sexual harassment have happened at least three times over the past five years. Employees at Purple are required to participate in training sessions focused on the types of harassment and how important it is to report those incidents. Harassment has impacted at least six former and current employees, and yet some of the current employees have not reported it because they are too intimidated to do so.
Individual safety in the workplace and job security are the employees’ main concerns, and those have been cited as some of the reasons why the former employees resigned.
It was also shared with The Deaf Report that upper-level management at Purple has in the past ignored clear telltale signs of harassment, which led to some of the individual employees being harassed to resign. Even after the individuals resigned, other certain Purple employees at the time continued to harass them and there was a lack of oversight from upper-level management. In some of those situations, it escalated to the point where requests were made for those employees to cease and desist their acts of harassment.
What is Purple doing to protect their current employees and enforce a safe workplace?
The Deaf Report previously wrote an article calling Purple out for their lack of accountability in the allowance of a hostile work environment to continue (based on the anonymous employed interpreters’ accounts). Purple’s knee-jerk response was to beef up their non-disclosure agreements for existing employees. This has only led to higher levels of employee fear of retaliation and subsequent refusal to report inappropriate situations at work, such as harassment. Some employees have shared that they are willing to go so far as to turn their cheek the other way, so they do not have to address the situation. It is important for people to remember that if they turn their cheek the other way despite having seen their co-workers or subordinates experience incidents of inappropriate conduct, they can get in trouble for failure to report.
Minda Zetlin at Inc. Magazine wrote that 54 percent of women experience harassment in the workplace, and the actual figures may be higher for those in the Deaf community. Zetlin recommended that organizations review their harassment policies at least once every year and hold mandatory harassment training on a regular basis. It is clear that Purple is not handling these harassment claims as they should if it is an ongoing issue for their employees, even with harassment policies and training sessions in place.
The Deaf Report wants to make it clear that Purple Communications is not the only employer to have this issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. If you work at Purple and/or any other employer and witness harassment, be sure to report it. If you do not follow through, you put yourself at risk for being terminated for not reporting. Protect yourself, report the harassment straightaway, and be sure to document it all.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Deaf Report under the same author. This article has been placed on Deaf Vee Journal for archiving purposes.