Every day millions of workers in the United States come and leave to work each day. Every day we can all relate to understanding our jobs, roles, and responsibilities, but do we understand the law? Especially when work laws are violated and it can start to affect our work environment. I am speaking to you about Sexual Harassment. It can happen to anyone and practically it can happen anywhere. So what is sexual harassment? The law states: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids any sex discrimination in all aspects of employment. “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment” (Brady) There are two different types of sexual harassment. These include quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment. The first type of harassment which is Quid pro quo harassment basically means I get this for that. It’s an exchange of some sort of benefit for a sexual favor. “Employers are held strictly liable for the quid pro quo harassment behavior of the supervisors/mangers regardless of whether the employer knew of the behavior or should have known” (Sweeney). Hostile environment harassment is the second type of sexual harassment. “According to the United States Supreme Court, hostile environment sexual harassment exists when the workplace is permeated with "discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment” (Brady)
Sexual Harassment can be a very serious offense if violated. It’s important for employees to understand that something that is considered acceptable outside of work might not work for employees during work hours. Through formal training on sexual harassment and a complete brief explanation for all employees it can really benefit companies and probably even save the company thousands of dollars and time in lawsuits.
Employers Roles and Responsibilities
If an employer suspects sexual harassment in the workplace, in order to inform their employees on how to make a complaint and reaffirming what the company’s policy is against sexual harassment; the employer can distribute a pamphlet to each employee. This will establish how firm the company stands on sexual harassment as pursuant with federal law. Thoroughly investigate the situation or incident by hiring or appointing a committee of internal investigations to handle this matter. Remember that there will be many sides to the story, so this part is very important to do. Never automatically assume, some is guilty or not guilty based strictly on someone’s word. This can lead to a bigger situation. An employer “must enforce its purported policy with an appropriately stern punishment.” (La Mance) “This may involve termination or suspension of the alleged harasser.” (La Mance) If a complaint is made by an employee it is important for employers to respond to the complaint promptly. By conducting a grievance procedure, it will allow both parties to air their side and present evidence. Although many cases never have a trial, here are some very interesting statistics that an article written by Joanna L. Krotz stated recently, “Six out of 10 (56.9 percent) sexual harassment charges investigated in 2009 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were determined to have “no reasonable cause.” Yet monetary benefits awarded that year totaled more than $121...
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