Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Katherine Hase
November 29th 2012
Research Paper
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace         The phrase “sexual harassment” became highly publicized in 1975 as activists and writers began addressing the problem. Shortly after 1980, articles and publications in regards to sexual harassment spread rampantly as the result of congressional hearings, increased litigation, and the adoption of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines. Harassment in the workplace is an increasing problem, which many employees do not know how to deal with. Harassment based on sex is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Right Act 1964. Title VII states, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical 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 the 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. Sexual harassment consists of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, imposed on the basis of sex, by an employee or agent of a recipient that denies limits, provides different, or conditions the provision of aid, benefits, services or treatment protected under Title VII.” (Coldfelter) Sexual harassment is categorized as a form of sexual discrimination, which constitutes this behavior as illegal under existing federal and state laws. To enforce these laws, Congress has mandated federal agencies accountable for ensuring the full compliance of workplaces and educational establishments. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established to enforce Title VII and to investigate allegations of discrimination. In November 1980, the EEOC published specific guidelines on sexual harassment, which lucidly states that sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination. The EEOC uses a very complex definition, but everything in regards to sexual harassment is covered within the confines of these guidelines. These guidelines cover many key points. These key points, plus court decisions provides the legal definition of sexual harassment and spell out the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. Section A of the guidelines states, that unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment. Examples include either when such behavior is explicitly or implicitly part of a manager’s decision to hire or fire an employee. When submitting to sexual conduct is a term or condition of employment, this conduct is illegal whether it is outright visible or implied. When such one uses sexual behavior in order to make other employment decisions such as pay, promotion, or job assignment any time an employment decision is based on whether an employee submitted or refused to submit to some form of sexual conduct, it is prohibited. In each case, the conduct is classified as Quid Pro Quo or a favor/ advantage granted in return for something, which is sexual harassment. Individuals in positions of power offer some kind of tangible job benefit for submission to sexual harassment. The courts usually hold the employers strictly liable for this type of behavior. Section A also addresses hostile environment sexual harassment. Harassment is able to make a work place intangibly also, if the atmosphere becomes so negative that it affects the employee’s ability to do their job, it is illegal. Examples include, when such behavior has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the employee’s work performance. When such behavior creates an intimidating, hostile,...
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