"inherently more offensive to women"
A simple cup of joe not always so simple

The days of women fetching coffee for the boss still linger in some workplaces

That was the headline on a story on the front page of the Business section of today's Inquirer. A perfectly good headline -- if disapproving in a feminist sort of way. But I couldn't find it online.

While the same article (by Jane M. Von Bergen) appears at the website, it has a different and more subdued headline "Hot controversy: Fetching coffee for the boss." A female receptionist was asked to get coffee for her boss. She refused, and was fired. So she brought suit in federal court alleging a "hostile and discriminatory work environment":

Nine minutes after receptionist Tamara Klopfenstein complained - for the second time - about getting her bosses coffee, she was fired.

"I don't expect to serve and wait on you by making and serving you coffee every day," Klopfenstein e-mailed to her boss at National Sales & Supply L.L.C., of Bensalem.

Manager Jason Shrager told her the issue wasn't "open for debate."

Instead, the issue caused a brouhaha in federal court.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller couldn't resist punning his way through a decision on the deeper issue - whether Klopfenstein's managers had created a hostile and discriminatory work environment by requiring the receptionist to fetch them coffee.

He wrote that she had no grounds for her complaints of sexual discrimination.

Please pour Judge Schiller decaf before he puns again.

"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," Schiller wrote. The fact that a vice president wrote "looks nice, dresses well," on notes when she was hired also doesn't add up to discrimination, the judge wrote.

"While the behavior of plaintiff's supervisors may have been rude, gauche, or undesirable, their actions do not violate federal or state antidiscrimination laws," Schiller wrote.

Klopfenstein, who worked at the company for six weeks in 2006, plans to appeal, said her attorney, Timothy M. Kolman, of Langhorne.

While I'm glad the judge threw out this legalistic exercise in frivolity (opinion here in pdf), I had a feeling that the author of the piece might have been leaving some of the details out, so I looked elsewhere. Sure enough, the most interesting stuff was not reported. Either that or whoever edits the business section (which is where the article was) thought that details like these shouldn't be read by sensitive Philadelphians:
Plaintiffs attorneys Timothy M. Kolman and Rufus A. Jennings of Timothy M. Kolman & Associates in Langhorne, Pa., said in an interview that they intend to appeal the ruling, and that Schiller erred by failing to recognize that some tasks are "inherently more offensive to women."

Schiller also erred, they said, by dismissing a retaliation claim in which Klopfenstein complained that she was fired immediately after she complained that she should not be expected to get coffee when it was not one of her listed job duties.

According to court papers, Klopfenstein worked for six weeks as a part-time receptionist and data entry clerk. In her suit, she claims that the office environment was tinged with sexism from the very beginning when a vice president of the company made a note after her initial interview that she "looks nice, dresses well." After just a few weeks on the job, Klopfenstein claims that a male co-worker invited her to lunch in an e-mail that said "I feel bad you have been working here for a couple of weeks and we haven't gotten to know each other yet."

In her deposition, Klopfenstein testified that she found the invitation "very offensive" because "there is no reason why a man and a woman should go out to lunch together without any other party around. To me that's a date." (Emphases added.)

Via Crime & Federalism.

The things that pass for sexism these days!

Sheesh.

I can remember when workplace sexual harassment meant, you know, sexual harassment. I have a serious problem with the idea that the task of getting someone a cup of coffee is "inherently more offensive to women" -- even if we put aside whether it constitutes sexual harassment. Logically, that would mean that getting a cup of coffee is inherently less offensive to men, right? Otherwise, how could it possibly more more offensive to women?

To see this out, let's assume getting coffee is less offensive to men than women. Does that mean it should become "men's work," and that only men should be asked to fetch coffee, lest women be offended by being asked? Can anyone tell me how that wouldn't be sexist? If a man worked somewhere and could show that only men were tasked with getting coffee, couldn't he sue?

And why couldn't women also sue? If we adopt the plaintiff's position, and the company were to show more sensitivity by defering to women, what would stop a woman from turning around and claiming that the company was preventing her from doing what had become "men's work"?

It also bothers me that it's considered "sexist" to tell a woman she looks good or "dresses well." If someone (including me) tries to look nice and dresses well, compliments are always appreciated. So once again, if we assume it's OK to say that a man dresses well, but sexist to say that about a woman, then what would stop women from suing for not being told they dressed well while men were being told they were? And what about telling an employee he or she dresses poorly? Seriously, suppose the boss wants men and women dressed for success. Does he get in more trouble for telling a man to dress nicer than if he tells a woman to dress nicer? As to the idea that a man can eat lunch with a man but not with a woman, please! If that isn't sexist, what is?

Pretty soon, employers will not be in charge of their workplaces. The courts will.

I'm glad at least one court drew the line.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

Comments appreciated.

(But who's going to get me a cup of coffee?)

posted by Eric on 06.29.08 at 04:35 PM










Comments

You failed to mention the tension in an all-woman office when the receptionist is asked to fetch coffee for the female boss.

I worked with 4 men in a fairly high testosterone office, and never felt "put upon" by requests such as more coffee. Heck, one of the guys always had coffee made when I got to work and more often than not handed me a cup as I walked in the door.

He joked that his day was always easier when I was sufficiently caffeinated.

On the other hand, it was my job to make sure the fridge was always stocked with beer and the candy bowl always filled.

I miss that job and those men.

Donna B.   ·  June 30, 2008 5:42 AM

Her first job?

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  June 30, 2008 8:26 AM

I would note that her position was as receptionist. That means that she is the first person that customers see on arrival. It is a legitimate business need to have someone who "looks nice, dresses well" in that role.

Duh.

Whitehall   ·  June 30, 2008 7:34 PM

I waited tables in my younger days, and at the end of the night I'd take a cup of coffee to my female boss. If I'd only known I could have sued her...

Joe R.   ·  June 30, 2008 10:41 PM


Sexism if you do, sexism if you don't.

Does anyone doubt that if a senior manager went to lunch with men only - that would then be trotted out as an example of sexism? After all - why wasn't he inviting women to lunch when men got to go?

James Gatz   ·  June 30, 2008 11:13 PM

If we make it a law that only men can fetch coffee, in ten years women will be suing for the right to fetch coffee.

John Davies   ·  June 30, 2008 11:24 PM

Most of my professional life has been spent as an administrative assistant, and I have NEVER felt put upon if someone I worked for/with asked for a cup of coffee. The way I see it, my job is to make their job easier. Their time is more valuable to the company than my time, so if freeing them up to pursue company interests involves getting a cup (or thermos) of coffee that's fine by me.

It's an attitude that has served me well. My bosses have considered me an asset and treated me well because of it.

This woman is an idiot looking for a quick buck.

ElvenPhoenix   ·  June 30, 2008 11:25 PM

In California that lawsuit would not have been thrown out. I know of one company where a complaint of similar frivolity resulted in a settlement with cash payout for the former employee, based in part on the employer hearing the horror stories of the likely result of a trial. Sadly, it was a wise move for the company.

David   ·  June 30, 2008 11:43 PM

Perhaps you can get a little trailer so Coco can bring you a cuppa...

Don Meaker   ·  July 1, 2008 12:08 AM

Joe R. wrote:

"I waited tables in my younger days, and at the end of the night I'd take a cup of coffee to my female boss. If I'd only known I could have sued her..."

I was a medic (enlisted) working with nurses (officers) in a military hospital. Tho I never touched the stuff, I was not only expected to fetch them coffee, but brew it, too. (Thank goodness none of them smoked cigars.)

Under UCMJ, I probably don't have a case. Darn.

Uncle Ralph   ·  July 1, 2008 12:37 AM

This reminds me of an old joke:

A guy is complaining to one of his golfing buddies about sexual harrassment sensitivities. "You can't say anything anymore without being accused of something," he says.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," replies his friend.

The first man continues: "For instance, just the other day I walked out of my office to see my secretary. She was kneeling down filing some papers. As soon as I got to her, she looked up at me and growled, 'Get your dick out of my face!'"

"Holy crap! What did you do?"

"Well, what else could I do? I just zipped up my pants and went back to my office."

Ben   ·  July 1, 2008 12:41 AM
Blum and Shrager, the Levittown woman said, "took, basically, the entire job as a joke and . . . fired me because I didn't bring them coffee at a certain time. . . . They had no idea that I needed that job as much as I did."

Apparently her need for the job was not great enough to complete a simple task requested by her employer.

ironmyshirt   ·  July 1, 2008 12:50 AM

In the government, need beats ability every time

boose   ·  July 1, 2008 1:06 AM

I know of an executive who was the only female in a room of about twenty male colleagues, all of roughly equal positions. The boss running the meeting singled her out and asked her to make coffee for everyone.

That is sexism.


M   ·  July 1, 2008 1:07 AM

Well, we could solve it all by keeping women out of the workplace completely!

;)

Warner Todd Huston   ·  July 1, 2008 1:21 AM

What a transparently stupid attempt to cash in, good thing the judge threw it out.

The best part is how counterproductive it is. It's just obviously more efficient to have the assistant/receptionist make coffee rather than the high paid boss.

Then if you're given the choice between hiring a female assistant who might drag you through the courts if you ask her to perform the simple and useful task of making coffee or a man who'll just make the damn coffee, who are you going to hire? Yeah, that's a real win for women in the workplace, there.

Mercutio   ·  July 1, 2008 1:36 AM

Wonder if her lawyers took the case as pro boner?

Whitehall   ·  July 1, 2008 1:40 AM

At this point in history I think any 'boss' who isn't a jackass on a power trip will just get his own damn coffee. Still, to take it to court is a bit much. I think I'd deal with it by simply stating that this wasn't going to be part of my job, & if that wasn't acceptable, see ya, send me my check at this address.

Douglas Fletcher   ·  July 1, 2008 1:44 AM

Was she in the receptionist union or something? Starbucks probably filed an amicus brief on behalf of the employer.

frege   ·  July 1, 2008 2:11 AM

These sorts of issues long ago left the realm of common sense; I used to think my generation would be able to move beyond sexism and the like, but we're simply swapping one for another.

For most of us the idea that women inherently belong at home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children seems absurd. But go ahead and ask us what we think of women as a liability and potential source of trouble. Why would we want to hire and work with someone like that?

Tim   ·  July 1, 2008 2:20 AM

M, did this happen once or all the time? There's nothing sexist about asking her to make the coffee once. Someone had to do it, and why not her? It might be sexist if this happened every meeting, and nobody else was ever asked, and there wasn't some other obvious reason, e.g. she was the closest to the machine, or she had some special talent for it.

Milhouse   ·  July 1, 2008 2:28 AM

National Sales & Supply L.L.C., of Bensalem should thank their lucky stars that they are not operating in Canada, where they will certainly be found guilty of violating the lady's human rights.

E.g. "the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that one of the employees there (McDonald's on Marine Drive, Vancouver) has a human right not to wash her hands when working in their kitchen....The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ordered that McDonald's pay her ... an additional $25,000 for her "dignity and self-respect". (Ezra Levant on April 15, 2008 4:09 PM, http://ezralevant.com/2008/04/)

Klopfenstein's "dignity and self-respect" have surely been dashed.

ic   ·  July 1, 2008 3:27 AM

In 2000 I was once asked at a job interview if I could work with a woman as a boss.

I replied something like: "what a coincidence, my mother is a woman and she bossed me around all the time - so I think I could deal with it"

No response on that but I got the job anyway.

I'm self-employed now...the world is gettng too bizarre for me as it is. :)

Dan D   ·  July 1, 2008 3:51 AM

I own a micro-business. Just have your meetings in a restaurant, like I do, and outsource your reception. Let some other moron deal with hiring staff in this age of f2m sexism!

AntiCitizenOne   ·  July 1, 2008 6:10 AM

Jane Von Sternvirgin.

Sorry.

Hucbald   ·  July 1, 2008 6:59 AM

Simple solution: list coffee making as one of the tasks the job requires.

I was told that making tea was one of the expectations of a job when I worked in England. I was glad to do it because it was a GREAT job and it was a nice thing to do for my boss.

goddessoftheclassroom   ·  July 1, 2008 7:00 AM

Wouldn't it be "inherently more offensive" to a man to be asked to make coffee?

Flan   ·  July 1, 2008 7:12 AM

"it was not one of her listed job duties"

That alone is excellent reason to fire an employee, as it shows a bad attitude and a lack of motivation.

rightwingprof   ·  July 1, 2008 7:45 AM

At this point in history I think any 'boss' who isn't a jackass on a power trip will just get his own damn coffee.

Totally agree. I think this woman obviously took it too far and she should have either left the job or made the damn coffee. But I do think the men on this group don't realize that it tends to be the women who end up fetching coffee (regardless of job), or cutting the cake at a party or serving punch or whatever other girly job they are expected to do. Sometimes it's annoying, that's all.

Lea   ·  July 1, 2008 8:08 AM

Not that this receptionist had to look past her having landed the job she needed and on to improving her chances of getting a bigger bonus or nice little pay raise by keeping the boys in their offices making money for the business while she lowered the overhead costs of making coffee.

But she could have and thinking like that does tend to infuse all that an employee does and says. But that one boss's note didn't read, "looks nice, dresses well, seems bright", did it?

Dusty   ·  July 1, 2008 8:28 AM

I never ask my secretary to get me coffee; I always need to stretch anyway.

I do ask her to get me lunch. She always does so.

However, to make up for it, I ask her, "I'm going down to the cafeteria. Can I get you anything?"

Doing so keeps it from being sexist. If she ever sued, the questions would go something like this:

"Did he ask you to get him lunch?"

"Yes."

"How often?"

"A couple of times a week."

"Did he ever offer to get you lunch?"

"Yes."

"How often?"

"A couple of times a week."

No case.

Rick The Lawyer   ·  July 1, 2008 8:30 AM

Maybe fetching coffee was all she was good for. I've seen people like that - both men and women. They'd screw up a free lunch if you let'em.

Artie Curtis   ·  July 1, 2008 8:36 AM

I'm with everyone else, list the coffee-fetching in the employee's job, not that hard. Employee management 101. Yes, sometimes the boss needs the coffee now, been on both sides, just do it.

I also objected to a task like this when I was 21, I attribute my decision to youth and stupidity.

pashley   ·  July 1, 2008 8:54 AM

Sounds like she had a crappy job. So she planned a way to get a nice out-of-court settlement. I wouldn't be surprised if she had already worked out the "no, I ain't getting you coffee" details with her lawyers before she said it.

Winfield   ·  July 1, 2008 9:02 AM

Funny thing about being an assistant to a V.P. Your job is to assist the V.P. If you can't even assist him with a cup of coffee, then why in the heck does he even need you in the first place?

Lawrence   ·  July 1, 2008 9:04 AM

Why not have the courts in charge of the workplace for civilians? They just put themselves in charge of the workplace for the armed forces. If you can run a battlefield with evidence baggies, Miranda rights, and dusting for fingerprints, why not the front desk?

Countrylawyer   ·  July 1, 2008 9:04 AM

"any 'boss' who isn't a jackass on a power trip will just get his own damn coffee."

Um, hasn't it occurred to you that the highly-paid boss is not supposed to spend time on simple tasks like coffee-making? Many years ago, when I was only a few years out of university, it was explained to me that the company was paying me big bucks to do engineering, and I shouldn't waste the company's money (and time!) doing tasks that could be delegated to one of the office secretaries/assistances.

pst314   ·  July 1, 2008 9:42 AM

I own and run a 13 person firm.

I require one employee to keep the fridge stocked with Diet Cokes and Red Bulls.

Is it sexist that the jack-of-all-trades that has a bit of time in his schedule to do this is male? Should I require that my female purchasing manager rotate this duty with him?

Pshaw.

TJIC   ·  July 1, 2008 9:42 AM

If we're all equal under the law, how can some tasks be recognized by a court as "inherently more offensive to women?"

Unbelievable.

It seems this woman's lawyers are trying to have a court rule that women are way more sensitive than men and need to be treated with kid gloves.

You've come a long way, baby!

w3   ·  July 1, 2008 9:46 AM

So I guess the take home message is that if the job description for your admin asst includes stuff like getting coffee, then you are obligated to hire a man.

William Oliver   ·  July 1, 2008 9:46 AM

"... or cutting the cake at a party or serving punch or whatever other girly job they are expected to do."

Come on, Lea. Parties at work? Cake and punch? And napkins? Uh, huh, men suggest those parties but don't do the work.

Why do men always end up flipping the burgs and tapping the keg?

Both your example and mine have little, directly, to do with getting the boss coffee, but, indirectly, they together show the contrast in what what each sex thinks is important when it comes to community functions. People do work on what they want to do.

Dusty   ·  July 1, 2008 9:49 AM

If only men where allowed to coffee then women would sue they were not allowed to serve coffee anymore.

Person   ·  July 1, 2008 9:51 AM

The day I realized every person is here to serve another is the day things became clear. The administative assistant serves the boss, the boss serves the client, the client serves their clients, etc. The judge serves the public. When people act as though their job is to be served instead of serve others, they end up with this kind of twisted logic.

Rubbertoes   ·  July 1, 2008 10:20 AM

I don't see any problems with saying she dresses well on her interview form or offering to take her to lunch. There is nothing sexist about either of those things. I do think the coffee thing was stupid, though. Maybe it's just generational differences, but I've always been taught that a male boss asking a female secretary to get him coffee is sexist. Some of the older secretaries in my office do it for the older men, but the younger men would never dream of asking their secretaries to get them coffee. I'm a woman, and I would never dream of asking my secretary to fetch me coffee, either. It just seems demeaning. She's there to work, not to do personal tasks for me.

To me, getting coffee is not a work-related task, unless you work in a coffee shop or a restaurant, or unless it's for a client meeting. Otherwise, it's a personal task, and the boss should do it himself. What's next, asking the secretary to wash his shirts? Filing a lawsuit might have been going a bit far, but I definitely would have either said something as politely as I could to the boss to get across the point that I was a receptionist, not a waitress, or I would have just quit and found a position where I would have been respected.

Rosie   ·  July 1, 2008 10:38 AM

Along the lines of what pst314 said.

While working as a assistant network engineer a few years ago, I was recabling a building for a new local network we were putting in. The manager of this particular facility (a female), insisted that I rearrange the furniture in the offices to compensate for the location of the network drops. She stated that since most of her staff were women, that I (a male) should be the one to perform this task. Being young and not one to make waves, I agreed to move the furniture as long as I was there.

About an hour into my moving of the desks, my boss (a woman) walked in to see how I was getting along. When she saw what I was doing, she became VERY upset. She stated (rather colorfully), to both me and the manager of the building that I was being paid far too much to be moving furniture and if there was furniture to be moved that the female staff could not handle then they should hire movers. She also made it very clear to the manager that having men do work considered "too hard" for women was inherently sexist and she would have none of it.

ccathers   ·  July 1, 2008 10:52 AM

An even better solution, and one that many companies take to cut costs and hassle:

No coffee.

You want coffee, go buy it somewhere. Chances are good that you will bring it in with you when you come in for the day, rather than leave work to get it--or if you do leave work to get it, it will be during your lunchtime anyway. Therefore, nobody can be assigned to get anybody coffee. Issue solved.

This is a similar solution to the fact that one can't drive away bums out of your business anymore on the basis of their being bums, so the solution is to remove or severely limit chairs. Everyone suffers, but EQUALLY, so that apparently is what the left wants.

arminius   ·  July 1, 2008 11:00 AM

Why do men always end up flipping the burgs and tapping the keg?
Heh. Point taken, although if flipping burgers and tapping kegs happen as often as fetching coffee does, I totally want to work in your office!
The parties thing is partly the other women in the office, especially the older ladies, who expect you to do stuff like they used to do, where you do personal stuff for the boss and are on all the party planning committees. Itís irritating when you get volunteered for stuff because you are a girl! When I worked in a mostly guys office, we never had cakes for birthdayís, we just did cards and beer. That was fun.
Iím not saying she didnít go too far, but getting coffee for the boss is linked with the whole 80ís working girl sexism thing in my head. I donít think you should ask people to get your drink or food, unless you reciprocate. I have never had the coffee issue. I donít drink coffee so I never make it. I would probably think less of a boss that always wanted me to get his coffee, though. As someone else said, Iím not a waitress. Whether thatís right or wrong I donít know, but I wouldnít sue for it either. I believe changing jobs deals with these issues quite nicely.

Lea   ·  July 1, 2008 11:47 AM

Come on, Lea. Parties at work? Cake and punch? And napkins? Uh, huh, men suggest those parties but don't do the work.
Why do men always end up flipping the burgs and tapping the keg?

Heh. Point taken that women are often pushing for the cake and punch, and parties don°¶t happen all the time (although there are other examples of this type of thing, I°¶m sure, I just can°¶t think of them), but coffee is different. It happens every day.
I think the only time you ask somebody to get you something is when they are headed that direction. Ie °ßWhile you°¶re in the kitchen, can you grab me a bottle of water?°®. That°¶s totally cool. Please stop what you°¶re doing to fix me a coffee with cream and sugar is a different story. On second thought, maybe coffee is a problem because it°¶s got so many steps? Make the coffee. Pour into cup. Add sugar, or cream and sugar, or just cream in specified amounts. That is a little too waitressy. Maybe it°¶s only ok if it°¶s served black Éļ
I personally have never had any of these issues but I think if I did I would think less of the person who asked it of me. And I might leave, depending on if that was an isolated thing or just one of many things.

Lea   ·  July 1, 2008 11:55 AM

Whoops! Thought the other one didn't post and posted twice.

Lea   ·  July 1, 2008 11:59 AM

"However, to make up for it, I ask her, "I'm going down to the cafeteria. Can I get you anything?""

Sounds like a pick-up line to me Dusty. Start looking for that lawsuit.

willis   ·  July 1, 2008 12:11 PM

Maybe it's just generational differences, but I've always been taught that a male boss asking a female secretary to get him coffee is sexist.

You've been lied to.

IF the job is to be an underling, expect to do whatever the boss likes, short of criminal acts. It's called WORKING FOR A LIVING. Fetching coffee for your boss is hardly oppressive. Nor is any kind of helping out if you are still getting paid for it. Hint: It's not about you, girls and you have a choice as to the type of job you hold. You could be a garbage collector so you wouldn't have to worry about fetching the joe.

"What, you want me to serve cake and punch instead of typing that correspondence? Sure, no problem."

How hard is that?

SGT Ted   ·  July 1, 2008 12:34 PM

Was it sexist when they made me clean the car-wash at the gas station I worked at one summer? They didn't ask either of the girls that worked there, and that job was much more "demeaning" than fetching coffee. So was stocking shelves, for that matter. This women seems to think that she shouldn't actually have to work at her job. She'd be right at home in a union shop. And even an invitation to lunch is now sexist!? Glad to see the judge smacked her down.

Chris M   ·  July 1, 2008 1:45 PM

I'm a young guy and yes, my assistant gets me coffee and lunch sometimes. I do not think she finds it demeaning. She makes around $15 per hour. My billing rate is $260 per hour. Why on earth would I take time away from billing clients to handle such trivial tasks? By the time she handles all of these tasks, I've grossed enough to pay her salary for the day.

My question - why in the hell did it take him nine minutes to fire her?

Mike   ·  July 1, 2008 4:33 PM

[Lea ∑ July 1, 2008 11:47 AM]

You might have a point of the remnants of change (older ladies) preventing the death of a tradition, if you will. I've been on my own now for 16 years.

I did spend my first 15 years with an engineering firm, joining when it was 25 mostly men and lived through it's growth to 130 stratified 70-30 mix of men and women. The influx was mostly my age and younger.

One of the things I remember is the that we went from no cake parties to lots of cake parties in those 15 years. (The beer parties stayed about the same.) Often there were streamers, too.

I could layout all the evidence, but let me just note the desire of the gals my age at the time, rekindled the old ladies there, as much as the old ladies were taking the young ones by the hand.

I really wanted to say something wrt what [Chris M ∑ July 1, 2008 01:45 PM] brought to mind for me. I went to work at the height of the second oil crisis in '79. I was coming in as some were going out. I clearly noticed but it I was just happy to have the job. It bothered me, though, in the '82 recession. Friends with seniority were being laid off in other departments and in one case, I was given some of their responsibilities. I felt bad they left and I got to stay. I even moved to another department for a while after they let another with seniority off. I felt really bad because I'd been there a short time.

I asked my old boss, the guy who interviewed and hired me and I worked for most of the time I was there. Why them. Why not me?

Essentially he said I was more valuable. I knew how to do that guy's job and my job. I came up with better ways to do things. I volunteered on the periodic furniture moves. I took the initiative to do his work before he had a chance to and he now could do work his boss did. We were both moving up.

Shortly after that a good friend of mine from from another engineering dept there that had been cut in half, who was hired shortly after me, stopped me in the cafeteria and said, rather depressingly and a little grumpily, "They've got me washing windows!" I told him, "Dude, you're a very valuable employee."

The personality of the boss might be important, but, on the whole, a receptionist who knows how to get coffee is more valuable than one who doesn't.

Same goes for chocolate chip cookies, which, while not on my resume, the Personnel Department at that engineering firm knew it.

Dusty   ·  July 1, 2008 5:19 PM

At each of 4 law firms I have worked at it was the responsibility of the receptionist to offer water, coffee, tea, or soda to visitors and all attendees at meetings. I do not recall any receptionist ever complaining about this.

Personally, I would never ask my assistant or the receptionist to bring me coffee in my office, but would fire them in an instant if they balked at serving me and the clients, opposing counsel, opposing parties, court reporters, and any other attendees at a meeting. It's part of the job. Do it with a smile or don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

Diego   ·  July 2, 2008 2:16 AM

"The day I realized every person is here to serve another is the day things became clear. The administrative assistant serves the boss, the boss serves the client, the client serves their clients, etc."

Well put, Rubbertoes. That reminds me of the something I read years ago about the Soviet Union: One of the reasons that service in restaurants and stores was universally lousy was that the Russians had been indoctrinated to see service as demeaning: In the Socialist Paradise of the future, nobody would "serve" anybody because everybody would be "free". As a result, in the real world of the present, nobody did anything well and what little they did do they did with surliness and resentment and a simmering desire to sabotage. The result was that everybody was poor and everybody was unhappy. Part of being an adult is realizing that life involves service, and the only persons who do not "serve" are parasites and the dead.

pst314   ·  July 2, 2008 9:44 AM

Myself, I wouldn't ask a receptionist to bring me cofee. It strikes me as unnecessary. At the same time, I agree with the court's decision. Tamara's lawsuit was frivolous. Until she realizes that when you're at work you're there to serve somebody, she's not going to have much luck making a living. Poor Tamara must be angry all the time.

Anne   ·  July 2, 2008 11:19 AM

I don't think rubbertoes and diego read the docket. The men were the owners of the company they weren't just her boss. Ihold the position of COO of a major company. If they CEO asked me to get coffee, I would.

Also after reading the docket it is clearly stated getting coffee was apart of her job duties since it was stated on her offer letter which she signed. I asked you this, if you owned a company and you had a part time employee who made allot of mistakes and out right told you no when you asked them to do their job, what would you do?

JimT   ·  July 4, 2008 12:23 PM

I agree with JimT i'm not sure people are reading the docket. It mentioned the owners would buy lunch for the staff including Tamara on numerous occasions. Why is it okay for the owners to bring lunch but the ask someone to do their job and they get sued?

its a scary world when the employees are the bosses boss

mickey   ·  July 4, 2008 12:40 PM

I read the docket (available online) and Klopfenstein (seems like a Drama Queen) appears to be a profesional plaintiff. She sued an insurance company prior to this incident as well and appears to be looking for some fast bucks. Her bosses were tired of her stupiditiy and were going to fire her prior because she was a horrible worker. It's not about the coffee but it is about being defiant and she appears to be a young person with anger issues. The bosses apparently brought in lunches many times for the staff and she apparently only brought them coffee only once or twice and not every day. I beleive I read that she was also a professional model. Why didn't What is wrong with this country that would allow the scumbag lawyer to take a case like this? It appears that the law firm of Tim Kolman found a loophole in the system because the defendants are not allowed to countersue Klopfenstein in a sexual harrassment claim. The judge made a great decision because if it went the other way there would be many more of these frivoulous lawsuits which will make the business owner's life more difficult. As a business owner myself it is getting tougher and tougher because of the expensive insurance and legal matters therfore making it not worth while owning a business in this counrty. Our country is already in trouble economically and we are losing jobs to overseas countries because of this nonsense. We are doomed as American Citizen's.

Petey

Stinkypete   ·  July 5, 2008 11:11 AM

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