Not For The Faint Of Heart

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

[email protected]


A business owner from California called me the other day to talk about a crass, offensive, and troubling event that he was informed about.

Professional Warning: Do not read beyond this point if you may be disgusted by auto-erotica.

I’m serious…

On the day the business owner called me, one of his managers was conducting his normal daily route visiting multiple job sites. As lunchtime approached, the manager drove to a city park to have his lunch, review emails, and prepare for the rest of the afternoon.

After finishing his lunch, the manager decided to pleasure himself, while videotaping the activity with his Company cell phone. Upon completion of the act and the videotaping, the manager decided to send the entire videotape via email to several of his male friends.

True story.

Unfortunately, the manager included the wrong distribution list in his email, before he hit the “send” button on his Company cell phone. Unbeknownst to the manager, the e-mail message and graphic attached video were sent to four women in the Company office, instead of his support group on

The women, surprised, shocked, and outraged contacted the business owner immediately. He called me shortly thereafter.

After reporting the details to me, he stated those magic words: “What do I do now, Steve?”

I’m serious. With that event in mind, he actually asked for professional direction.

All together now: “Fire the guy!”

Did anyone in the audience get that question wrong?

Amazingly, the owner resisted, citing the employee’s exemplary work performance, extensive tenure, and operational expertise as reasons for him to remain with the Company. After I picked myself up off the floor, I reminded the owner that this action was indicative of sexual harassment, a clear violation of the Company’s Information Technology Policy, and an affront to the Company’s culture.

The business owner maintained his resistance.

Naturally, the decision is the business owner’s to make; it is his Company. To that end, I resolutely informed him that if this employee action was not a terminatable offense, it would establish a problematic precedent for myriad future employee actions (e.g., pornography, profanity, misuse of Company property) that would normally result in immediate termination. Yet now, that newly-minted precedent would simply be equivalent to a written reprimand.

The business owner did not relent.

Based on the manager’s exemplary job performance, unequaled value to the company, and pivotal client relationships, the business owner decided to simply give the manager a written reprimand for misusing the Company’s Information Technology resources.

The manager made a bad decision that day. The business owner made a worse decision that same day.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.