HR experts say controversy aside, Trump tweet on Gillibrand could keep sex harassment debate at the forefront

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - President Trump's tweet that a female Democratic senator from New York would beg him for campaign donations before he was elected "and would do anything for them" has set off a firestorm.

But a local human resources expert said Tuesday that the controversy aside, the tweet keeps the sexual harassment discussion at the forefront.

The president's tweet stirred an already hot sexual harassment debate.

The words the president put in parentheses in his tweet prompted Sen. Gillibrand to call it a "sexist smear."

And she wrote a tweet herself directed at the president.

Veteran HR Consultant Amy Bakay owns HR NOLA and provides training to companies locally and around the country. She did not take a position on the Trump/Gillibrand war of words on social media, but did make other observations.

"The tweet episode, it serves as a reminder for employers and employees everywhere. It's keeping the subject in the forefront of everyone's consciousness and awareness," said Bakay.

At the White House, the regularly scheduled press briefing involved numerous questions about the president's tweet.

"What is he alleging what happened behind closed doors?" asked one reporter.

"Well he's not alleging anything, he's talking about the way that our system functions as it is that politicians repeatedly beg for money. That's not something new. And that comment frankly isn't something new. If you look back at past comments that this president has made, he's used that same terminology many times in reference to men. There's no way that this is sexist at all," answered White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The president's tweet aside, sexual harassment allegations have recently taken down a number of prominent men, including Harvey Weinstein, Rep. John Conyers, Sen. Al Franken and network anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose.

Bakay said companies do well to be educated about all that entails sexual harassment.

"I've shared this with many clients over the last few weeks that this situation is not limited to employees. The EOC has firm guidance on this policy, and sexual harassment and hostile work environments apply to clients and customers and vendors for employers," she said.

But would it be troubling if an employee suggested that a co-worker would do anything to get something of value?

"It certainly would be problematic and could be construed as inappropriate conduct. It's not necessarily in my wheelhouse where my specialty is to deal more with helping employers navigate through these types of situations, certainly could potentially lead to a legal matter, that type of conduct," said Bakay.

And when a reporter asked the White House Press Secretary whether Gillibrand is owed an apology since she and others think it contained sexual innuendos, Sanders replied, "I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way. So, no."

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