A Case Study on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Running Head: SEXUAL HARASSMENT

A Case Study on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Tami Oostema
Prepared for Davenport University Online
English 110: Advanced Composition
October 13, 2011

Executive Summary
The case involves a woman named Paula who is being sexually harassed by a coworker named Richard at her place of employment. Paula is new to the company. She has only been employed there for three months. When Paula looked in the employee’s handbook, she discovered that the company did not have a sexual harassment policy. Paula’s manager, Steve, asked her to investigate what could be done about this problem. Paula has several options. She can ignore the situation and hope it goes away, she could confront the coworker who is harassing her, she could quit her job, or she could suggest to her manager that the company put a sexual harassment policy into place. Implementing a sexual harassment policy would be the best solution to this problem. It would help to end the sexual harassment that Paula is enduring and prevent future incidents of sexual harassment within the company. Implementing a sexual harassment policy would require researching the laws on sexual harassment and making sure the wording in the policy is correct.

Case Background and Overview
The sexual harassment case is about a woman named Paula who works in the production department of a medium-size company. Paula’s coworker, Richard, has been harassing Paula for the past month by making inappropriate sexual comments and jokes. This has been making Paula uncomfortable and unable to focus on her work. She looked in the employee’s handbook to find the company’s policy on sexual harassment and discovered that there was no such policy in place. Paula’s boss, Steve, noticed that Paula’s work performance was declining. When he asked Paula what was wrong, she explained the problem to him. She showed him information about U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws concerning sexual harassment in the workplace that she had found in a human resources textbook and said that she was considering taking legal action against Richard. Steve told Paula that something needed to be done. He asked her to look into what the company needed to do to stop this problem from occurring now and in the future (Helms, 1992). Problem Identification and Analysis

Sexual harassment in the workplace is the root problem in this case. There are two types of sexual harassment. This first is quid pro quo. This type of sexual harassment occurs when a person in charge demands sexual favors from a subordinate as a condition of receiving or keeping a job, promotion, or benefit. The second type of sexual harassment is hostile environment. This occurs when a co-worker or supervisor subjects an employee to unwelcome and inappropriate sexually based behavior that causes the employee’s work environment to be hostile, intimidating or offensive but does not result in their job, a promotion, or benefit being affected (Schickman, n.d.). There are also different categories of employees who engage in the sexual harassment of women at work, the most prevalent being supervisors (see Figure 1, p. 11). In this case, the sexual harassment is affecting Paula’s work performance. In general, sexual harassment violates a person’s civil rights. It may cause an individual humiliation, loss of dignity, psychological (and sometimes physical) injury, and damage to career or reputation (Roberts & Mann, n.d.). Sexual harassment may also be costly to a company. When sexual harassment is occurring within a company, it can experience absenteeism, low productivity, increased health-care costs, poor morale, and higher employee turnover which all cost a company money. Bad press about a company involved in a sexual harassment case can damage a company’s image, costing a company not only its reputation, but also loss of customers and revenues...
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