The $1 Million-Dollar Spanking

Janet Orlando quit her job at the home security company Alarm One Inc. and sued, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress. Closing arguments were held this week in the case in which the plaintiff is seeking $1.2 million in damages for workplace spankings. According to the story at CNN, employees were paddled with rival companies' yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other, according to court documents. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks. According to the article, Ms. Orlando's lawyer said the following in closing arguments:

"No reasonable middle-aged woman would want to be put up there before a group of young men, turned around to show her buttocks, get spanked and called abusive names, and told it was to increase sales and motivate employees."

In response, the company's lawyers (and at least one other HR Blogger I read regularly) questioned how this case could ever get to a jury b/c the company treated both sexes the same (i.e. forced both men and women to show their buttocks and be spanked, etc.). Frankly I don't think that is going to work as an automic defense in harassment cases.
While I don't know all of the facts of this particular case, I can certainly see how similar conduct applied equally to both genders might impact the genders differently. Do we really think company-wide "Topless Fridays" would fly even though it treats both genders equally?
Bottom line is this, these types of games just don't belong in the modern workplace. I personally guarantee this company will discontinue its spanking fun regardless of whether or not it gets tagged by the jury in this case. With litigation expenses and lost time costs considered, a win in court is really only slightly better than a loss. The only true victory for a company in the employment law setting is to avoid litigation in the first place.