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Published: 7/31/2003

Area employers urged to forbid foul language

Employers who allow swearing and sexual references in the workplace could find themselves in, well, “blankety-blank” trouble with the federal government.

Policies prohibiting foul language and swearing were recommended by leaders of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's district office in Cleveland who spoke to 150 human resources managers, union representatives, and legal aid workers at a seminar in downtown Toledo yesterday.

“If you can't find words more expressive, you might not have the intellect to work here” is the phrase district director Michael Fetzer said he has used with violators.

The commission's hard line surprised Carole Aldrich, human resources manager with Toledo Molding & Die Inc. She said she has noticed younger employees, especially, using offensive language.

That might be a mark of growing up in a coarser society.

“Look at how sexualized music and television and advertisements are. That makes its way into the workplace,” said Donna Williams-Alexander, a trial attorney with the commission who talked about an increase in harassment cases.

Putting an end to such problems, however, doesn't always take an investigation.

Mr. Fetzer said the best way for managers to solve many problems is to take the whole department into a short training session, even though only one person in the group has violated standards. “It reminds everyone that management cares about the issue,” he said.

Attendance was down at yesterday's seminar from past semi-annual conferences the commission holds across Ohio, which officials blamed on firms' reduced training budgets.



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