In a stunning crackdown, the FDNY has demanded that all personal decorations, including flags and pictures of colleagues killed on Sept. 11, 2001, be removed from lockers.
The controversy began two weeks ago when a sexually explicit slogan was reported at Engine 230 in Brooklyn. In response, FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta banned all decorations, including American flags, “Support Our Troops” stickers, pictures of family and Mass cards.
Union officials said they planned to hand out 10,000 decals of American flags to firefighters so they could stick them on lockers in defiance of the crackdown.
“No city agency should permit the work place to display inappropriate stuff,” said Mylan Denerstein, the FDNY’s deputy commissioner for legal affairs.
The fire department later Wednesday issued a statement that sought to alleviate firefighters’ concerns.
“Over the past 18 months, the New York City Fire Department has made a concerted effort to eliminate offensive material from firehouses. However, American flags and mass cards of firefighters killed on Sept. 11, 2001, are certainly permitted.”
Ah. What a shame.
I am conflicted here sweet readers.
On one hand, the Fire Dept. like all departments should make every effort to foster a workplace that is professional and that promotes teamwork, respect and trust.
No company should tolerate behaviors which are offensive, including racial, ethnic, religious, age-related, or sexual jokes or insults, which includes displaying or distributing offensive pictures.
Most often that means men displaying sexually provocative images of women , which in turn often leads to and invites sexual harassment, either in the form of unwanted sexual advances, unwanted physical contact or repeated and unwelcome sexual suggestions or remarks.
After all, a man will think of se-x when confronted with a se-xually provocative image of a woman, and there is no rationale for having that in the workplace at all.
In addition to which, they are generally viewed as intimidating to women, as they should be. They belie disrespect and immaturity.
On the other hand, not being permitted to display images of lost firefighters from Sept 11, or images of loved ones………that seems awfully severe.
Having worked with F.D.N.Y. in the aftermath of Sept, 11…I can tell you one thing: firefighters thrive on jokes, innuendos and even teasing. It’s what makes them who they are.
I adore them.
No one is more fun to be around, and absolutely no has has your back like they do.
Did you know that rescue efforts by the FDNY on Sept 11,2001 succeeded in saving some 25,000 lives?
And still no one in New York can breathe easy about the fate of people who responded to Ground Zero.
But this issue is complex sweet friends.
Some may not even be aware of what constitutes “sexual harassment”, as it can be confusing and subtle.
Aside from actual physical involvement, there are verbal and non verbal behaviors.
Verbal sexual harrassment may include:
profanity, off-color jokes, sexual comments, threats, whistling, barking, grunts, or even growling……(yes, some guys bark and growl at women..go figure)
Some examples are:
leering, winking, licking lips, displaying or giving sexually suggestive pictures or images.
And while all those may seem within acceptable limits in a relationship, they are not …in the workplace.
Most especially in a place like a firehouse where the impact of sexual harassment can be loss of cohesion, low morale, and can even serve to undermine the readiness of the firefighters.
It distracts from accomplishment and could cost lives.
But not being allowed to display their personal decorations, including flags and pictures of colleagues who died on Sept, 11…
If anything would lower morale, that would be it.
Perhaps, they could re-think this position and allow for specific images to be displayed on lockers instead of the all out ban?
What say y’all sweet friends?
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