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How the Isiah Thomas Verdict Will Affect Employees Suing Their Workplaces

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October, 2. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, during the trial, Madison Square Garden was portrayed as an animal house in sneakers.

My next guest says that today's ruling is going to make bosses everywhere think twice about their behavior. Harleen Kahlon is a founder and CEO of Damsels in Success. It's a networking site for professional women.

I was thinking, with you coming you coming on, Harleen, not just women, right?

HARLEEN KAHLON, FOUNDER AND CEO, DAMSELS IN SUCCESS: Oh, absolutely.

I think that men are often subject to sexual harassment as well. I think the likelihood that a man complain is probably lower, just by virtue of the fact that, you know, men feel that this is something that they should just deal with, and it's just, you know, something that is not as common.

CAVUTO: What is the line that bosses are going to take from this today, the difference between being familiar and being too so?

KAHLON: I think one of the — one of the immediate thing that's — things that's going to happen at corporations is that there is going to be a ramping-up of training.

And I think that something that we have to bear in mind about sexual harassment is that it is a very murky topic. And the reason for that is that, oftentimes, things that we think are acceptable to do outside of the workplace are not acceptable in the workplace.

That means that employees need constant reinforcement as to what is and what is not OK. And, when you have a case like this, being a high- profile case, an interesting verdict coming out, I think corporations across America realize that this is something that we have to provide more reinforcement for with our employees.

CAVUTO: All right. But there is a line, isn't there, Harleen, between an employee, female or male, who does not mind the kidding around...

KAHLON: Oh, absolutely.

CAVUTO: ... and does not mind the jocularity.

KAHLON: Yes.

CAVUTO: And then that employee is passed up for promotion. Then they do mind.

KAHLON: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: And then they go back and retrace history.

KAHLON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: How you handle that? Or do you just never risk being in that position in the first place?

KAHLON: Well, I think that, ultimately, whether or not, you know, some joking in the office becomes a lawsuit or a larger sexual harassment situation is really a function of personal taste.

I think there are a lot of people out there who think that, you know, dealing with off-color jokes, for example, is just sort of an occupational hazard, or even part of the job. And I think that, occasionally, you find women or men who are uncomfortable with the level at which, you know, the joking is going. And...

CAVUTO: So, if they say just once, you know, I wish you would stop, and if they do not stop, all of a sudden, a potential legal time bomb is ticking?

KAHLON: It is very possible.

And I think that you raise a very important point, Neil. And that is that everyone has to be very perceptive. People have to pay attention to the way people are reacting to them in the workplace.

And I think that is really what we're ultimately talking about here. I...

CAVUTO: But what if everyone — I'm sorry to jump on you there.

KAHLON: That's OK.

CAVUTO: But, Harleen, a lot of people say Isiah Thomas was a very likable guy, and with most people with whom he worked, extremely so...

KAHLON: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: ... kidded around, joked with everyone. And it was this way with this woman in the beginning.

KAHLON: Yes.

CAVUTO: And then it turned bad with this woman in the end.

KAHLON: But, you know...

CAVUTO: So — so, where do you handle...

KAHLON: Right.

CAVUTO: ... join go with that?

KAHLON: I mean, I — you know, I — I guess, you know, again, it really is a question of personal taste.

I mean, you know, arguably, Inucha was not bothered initially, and just became bothered because she was passed up or something happened, or, arguably, it's something that always made her uncomfortable.

CAVUTO: Or he wouldn't stop.

KAHLON: And — and, you know, it's — it is possible. I mean, it's possible that it always made her uncomfortable. She just didn't — she wasn't at the — at the place where she could really vocalize this.

CAVUTO: But can't it go the other way now? Can't bosses say, gee, I try to be familiar with my staff, friendly with my staff?

KAHLON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: I try to be human and real and just the way people talk. And now I'm not going to try.

KAHLON: Well...

I'm not going to mix with them. I'm not going to be warm with them.

KAHLON: Well, I think that's dangerous.

CAVUTO: I'm just not going to do any of this.

KAHLON: I think that's dangerous.

And I think that one thing we have to very careful about is taking a verdict like this to mean that we cannot act like ourselves in the workplace. And I think it is understandable that people would feel a little bit destabilized by this: Oh, I can't be myself. I can't joke around.

That's understandable. But I think we have to bear in mind that the vast majority of people are very reasonable, that, you know, for the most part, people like, you know, enjoying the work environment. They like office banter.

CAVUTO: Well, give me two quick taboos you should never entertain.

KAHLON: Mm-hmm. You mean two things that could constitute sexual harassment?

I think touching is almost always inappropriate, just about always. Touching is very inappropriate. And I think invoking sex in any context in conversation is always inappropriate.

CAVUTO: Interesting. Any cursing?

KAHLON: I think — you know, I think, again, it depends. You know, I think you should know who your colleagues are. And I think most of us know who — you know, what people's limits are, what their tolerance level is, and try and stay within that.

CAVUTO: All right. Harleen, thank you very much.

KAHLON: Thank you.

CAVUTO: And, again, this case is on appeal. We will see where that goes.

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