Actual Reason for Dismissal: At an outdoor retreat last summer for the employees of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa, a female worker "told her colleagues that whenever she or her husband sneezed, the other would respond by saying, 'You are so good looking'," which is from an episode of Seinfeld. So, for the rest of the retreat, which due to its proximity to "fields of blooming plants" had "a somewhat higher than normal incidence of sneezing by agency staff," according to the association's executive director, Geoffrey Lauer, they were gesundheiting each other with "You're so good looking!" But John Preston just had to be the douche who takes it too far.
A week after the retreat, Preston allegedly sent the female worker who initiated the joke a series of e-mails in which he reiterated that she was good looking.Nope. Wrongity-wrong-wrong. It was not a continuation of that joke at all; it was, instead, totally inappropriate behavior that the joke was invoked to try to justify. Which was painfully obvious to the board who denied his unemployment benefits, is painfully obvious to me (and, I'm guessing, every other reader with two brain cells knocking together), but is evidently not painfully obvious to whomever's writing the headlines for the Des Moines Regiser, where it is proffered that Preston was, in fact, shitcanned for the joke, not the actual harassment itself.
The woman complained to her superiors, and Preston was cautioned about such comments. A few weeks later, Preston allegedly stopped the woman in a hallway at work and massaged her shoulders while speaking to her. That generated another complaint, and early this year Preston confronted the woman at a work-related event.
Preston was then fired for sexual harassment. At a hearing last week on Preston's claim for unemployment benefits, his attorney, Bradley Strouse, questioned Lauer at length on the origins of the "good looking" remark.
"It was, in fact, a 'Seinfeld' reference?" Strouse asked.
"Yes," Lauer replied.
Preston testified that he meant no harm by repeating the phrase. "It was just a continuation of that joke," he said.
In case it isn't evident, this is beyond bad reporting (or bad headlining). This plays directly into the victim-blaming narrative in which women who are sexually harassed at work are merely "oversensitive" and "hysterical" and "humorless." It's literally suggesting that Preston's accuser/victim couldn't "take a joke," and another poor man has fallen victim to the P.C. police blah blah yawn. And that is seriously uncool and extremely devastating to find so casually in a paper as influential as the Register.
Contact the Register.
[H/T to Shaker ParanoiaRebirth.]