Sexual Harassment

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HRM 320
Employment Law
February 5,2012

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Definition of sexual harassment as the term is used legally

The definition of sexual harassment that is in the guidelines of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also is copied by most states and employers for their own use. The guidelines state: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, 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. (29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 [1980])

Common sense must be used. Hugging, may be sexual or nonsexual and must be evaluated in context. There are 2 categories of Sexual harassment. It might be physical, and include, but not limited to: kissing, hugging, pinching, patting, grabbing, blocking the victim's path, leering or staring, or standing very close to the victim. It can also be verbal, which may be oral or written and could include requests for sexual acts. (sexual harassment , 2008)

Provide the legal definition of "quid pro quo" (also known as "vicarious liability") sexual harassment.

In Latin, quid pro quo means, What for what or Something for something.

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Most people think of quid pro quo as giving one thing of value and receiving something else. In the law, it has a similar meaning, but is a bit more complex. In regards to sexual harassment, quid pro quo is speaking about a form of sexual blackmail. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is requiring the employee to submit to unwelcome sexual conduct in order to keep their job, get a raise or receive a promotion. (quid pro quo, 2008)

For example, quid pro quo can be occurring if a teacher makes your grade based on whether you submit to unwelcome sexual conduct. This abuse of authority is illegal regardless of whether you refuse sexual demands or submit to them.

Provide the legal definition of hostile environment sexual harassment.

A hostile environment sexual harassment situation occurs where the sexually-oriented conduct creates an offensive and unpleasant working environment. Most legal definitions state that “hostile work environment” refers to harassment or discrimination that is a violation of a person’s civil rights based on gender, sexual orientation, race, color, nationality, ancestry, ethnic origin, religion, physical handicap/disability, medical condition, physical appearance, marital status, veteran status, and/or education.

The United States Supreme court clarified this definition in a unanimous decision in March, 1998 the Court said: “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, Title VII is violated.” (Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. 523 U.S. 75 (1998))

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An example of hostile environment sexual-harassment would be in the case of Nichols v. Azteca Restaurant Enterprises, Inc. 256 F.3d 864 (9th Cir. 2001), a male employee who was gay was taunted, called names, referred to as “she“ and “her” by supervisors and fellow employees.

List the factors which contribute to a determination of whether behavior is sexual harassment

There is no complete list of factors to consider in regards to making a determination of sexual harassment. It is possible that pertinent circumstances may need to be...
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