It was recently discovered that a “Team Lead” at my business has an extensive past in the adult porn video business, starring in videos and producing. Many of the female staff are uncomfortable taking direction from her now. I spoke with a female Vice President and advised that the whole floor knows of this woman’s past and the VP was more concerned about how this information got out. There has been no investigation that I am aware of, and it appears that management is condoning her not so distant past. Is there a possibility of filing a sexual harassment lawsuit?
What is her job? If it’s as the Youth Counselor at a church, yeah, probably not the best past career. Otherwise, can we just let this go, please? Why would there be a sexual harassment lawsuit? Because she had a former career in porn?
I’m absolutely opposed to the pornography industry. It’s damaging in so many ways, but that is irrelevant in this discussion. This woman did something in her past. She’s not doing it now. It was legal (presumably) behavior. Does it affect her ability to do her job? No. The only problem she has is because her co-workers are clutching their pearls.
And here’s my question: While you’re all running around condemning her, are you condemning the person who “discovered” this? Because I’m betting that the person who discovered her didn’t just stumble across her name on IMDB but found her while watching porn. If you’re going to condemn the actor, you better condemn the consumer at the same time. Not practical? Much easier to blame the woman who made a living doing this than to blame the men who consumed the end product? If you want her gone for making the videos, do you want to fire all the people at your office who watch the videos?
If anyone is concerned about sexual harassment, it would be this particular employee–as the victim. Isn’t your staff treating her differently because of her gender and not because of her skills? Are they uncomfortable taking direction from the man who watched the videos? I just don’t see a big difference in morality between producers and consumers. If your staff is not willing to take direction from her because of her past, then you need new staff. If she’s bragging about it, sending people clips, or going on television saying, “I’m a porn star and I work at Anvils R Us!” then it’s problematic, and the business would be within their rights to deal with it. If she’s simply doing her job, knock it off.
Here’s what you do. Ignore it. Tell your co-workers that her past is her past and their pasts are their pasts. The female vice president is right to be concerned about gossip. Gossip should not be tolerated in the workplace. If I were her, I’d be telling people to knock off the discussion. I’d also pull aside the former actress and ask her to let me know if anyone is harassing her and I’d take care of it.
I love the internet. I love Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. I use these things all the time to look people up to gather background information. But, we need to be careful to allow people their pasts. Were you perfect? Should everyone who has ever done something less than wholesome be condemned to live under a bridge for the rest of their lives? No? Then let it go. She did.
We should hire people to do jobs. We should let people overcome their pasts. We should stop mean girl gossip. Period.