I've seen some pretty interesting stuff come across my desk over the last 15 years as a claims adjuster. I've seen the photos of the results of someone who had the misfortune to get caught under a massive steel bridge girder. There were the photos of the crispy remains of three unfortunate drunks who found out the hard way that pickup trucks moving at over 90 miles per hour stop VERY quickly after encountering a stack of solid concrete highway barricades...and then burst into flames. Then there were the photos of the guy who had an unfortunate encounter with one of those saws you see in road paving projects that cuts expansion joints into concrete. He got 20 inches of rapidly turning saw blade through the back and lived....for a little while.
In short, you could say that I've seen some stuff that would shock most normal people into a puking fit. I've seen so much of it, that I'm generally immune to human tragedy in whatever form it takes. However, having said that, I discovered today that it is still possible for me to be shocked by my work.
You see, in 15 years of handling all sorts of claims including my fair share of workplace gender based harassment matters (I'm intentionally avoiding a more appropriate term here in an effort to avoid getting unnecessary and unwanted Google search term traffic), I've never once had photos of a lascivious nature, alleged or otherwise, delivered directly to my office desktop. Ever. Until today.
I can't go into too many details for obvious reasons, but I can share a little about what makes this so shocking. At least to me. Aside from the fact that I consider myself a Christian.
Generally speaking, when a claim for gender based harassment is made, the allegations are typically coached in euphemism and/or "proper clinical" terminology. This is especially true here in Texas where we consider ourselves the buckle of the Bible Belt. Occasionally, to emphasis a particularly egregious point, an attorney will employ direct quotation of the alleged offender's harassing remarks. Providing evidence in the form of copies of explicit emails or photos is almost always left to the discovery process when information is exchanged in a more or less controlled fashion. It is unheard of for copies of explicit photos to be attached to a copy of a lawsuit.
Which is exactly what happened in the case that was assigned to me today.
What made it even more surprising, to me at least, was the number of levels this claim went through with no one thinking to put a warning on it. You know...like "WARNING - EXPLICIT MATERIAL ENCLOSED". The claimant's attorney's letter was addressed to three women who make up part of the board of our named insured. They forwarded the letter to their agent. Their contact at the agency is also a woman (who is someone I've dealt with for years). That agent forwarded the claim to my company where it wound up in our support unit to be assigned to the appropriate team by a clerical person...who is female. It then goes to my supervisor...who is female.
So, by my count, 6 women touched this correspondence and attendant explicit photos (which happen to be of a somewhat infamous female of negotiable virtue) WITHOUT thinking to put a warning on the file or the materials that there was explicit material enclosed.
Imagine my surprise when I encountered some rather graphic images of uninhibited and unclothed womanhood...at work. My mouth literally fell open when I scrolled through the materials and the attendant images. I was so stunned, I immediately went and told The Queen what had happened because I could not believe it myself.
I guess those company firewalls only keep you from going and looking for it yourself but don't keep others from sending it to you.