Sexual Harassment

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Sexual Harassment occurs daily, sometimes without people realizing they are committing the act or that they are a victim. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. According to the EEOC, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed by men has more than tripled in recent years, when most people think of sexual harassment they only think it happens to women. Currently, approximately 11% of claims involve men filing against female supervisors. The EEOC defines Sexual Harassment as this: "It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex." It goes on to explain that harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). In class we discussed the two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Laws surrounding sexual harassment exist but they typically do not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or minor isolated incidents (Howard, 2007). So, the question arises: where is the line drawn between off handed comments and actual harassment? In the workplace, harassment may be considered illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in the victim being fired or demoted, or when the victim decides to quit the job because the harassment is so persistent. Although sexual harassment is present there are ways that a company can prevent it from happening, and also fix the situation after it has happened. This is also a problem that occurs globally not just in the United States.

The different forms of harassment vary from each other. As explained in the Human Resource Management textbook, quid pro quo is harassment in which employment outcomes are linked to the individual granting sexual favors. This kind of sexual harassment is literally "you do something for me, and I’ll do something for you" and it means that the unwelcome sexual conduct can result to tangible employment action (such as hiring or firing) if the employee accepts or rejects such sexual requests or favor (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). The second form of harassment is a hostile work environment. This type of harassment exists when intimidating or offensive working conditions, unreasonably affects an individual’s work performance, or psychological well being (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). In quid pro quo harassment, an employee may be promised a promotion, a raise, or a desirable work assignment, but only if the employee grants some sexual favors to the supervisor. A hostile work environment has more grey area than quid pro quo. The lines in a hostile environment can get blurred easily, what one person believes is harmless teasing the victim might actually be really offended and uncomfortable. Comments on the appearance of someone, telling jokes that are suggestive or sexual in nature, or even making continuous requests to get together after work can create a hostile work environment (Levy & Paludi, 2001).

To make sure that there are no blurred lines in defining what is and what is not sexual harassment companies should be proactive and educate their employees. The company should first establish a sexual harassment policy, and then communicate that plan adequately to all employees on a regular basis. Once this policy is established and communicated, it is important to train all employees of the company thoroughly on what is sexual harassment and how to avoid it, also how to report it if it does unfortunately occur (Wood). As an employer it is their legal obligation to create and enforce this policy. If you allow sexual harassment to flourish in your workplace, you will pay a high price in poor employee morale, low productivity, and lawsuits. To help prevent this unwanted behavior it is recommended that training sessions be...
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