1. Why is sexual harassment considered to be a business ethics issue?
Ferrell and Fraedrich (2009, pg 72) stated that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that can occur at work, school, and university or in social settings. Sexual harassment in the workplace is any form of unwelcome sexual attention that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating that occurs anywhere employees carry out any task for their employers. Sexual harassment can be written, verbal or physical. Both males and females can be the victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment presents legal, ethical, and moral issues for companies in the area of organizational relationships, which is defined by Ferrell and Fraedrich (2009, pg73) as "the behavior of organization members toward customers, suppliers, subordinates, superiors, peers, and others". These are all relationships in which sexual harassment can occur, but it occurs most frequently within the relationships that Ferrell and Fraedrich (2009, pg73) refer to as "significant others" whom are superiors, peers, and subordinates within the organization. It has been noted above the sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination, and as such it is illegal. For example, the fact that it is unethical for one employee to use sexual blackmail against another or for one employee to create a hostile working environment for another employee.
2. In the past, sexual harassment was often ignored in the workplace. Provide a possible reason for why this is no longer the case?
Solomon (2007) stated that in the past sexual harassment has risen to the forefront in most companies and the major problem seems that people do not even know what is and what is not sexual harassment. There does not seem to be a clear line on this issue. The genders seem to have separate views when it comes to sexual harassment. However, it is no longer the case, because The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 protects individuals across Australia from discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, in relation to employment, family responsibilities. The Act also makes sexual harassment against the law.
3. Assuming the claim by Kristy Fraser-Kirk is true, how may a better understanding of business ethics have helped the David Jones board and senior management avoid this situation?
Raths (2006) stated that business ethics are the examination of the variety of problems that can arise from the business environment, and how employees, management, and the corporation can deal with them ethically. Problems such as fiduciary responsibility, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, shareholder relations, insider trading, bribery and discrimination are examined in business ethics. Raths (2006) also stated that every employer must take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace to avoid liability. This means that employers must actively implement precautionary measures to minimise the risk of sexual harassment occurring and to respond appropriately when harassment does occur. Under the Sex Discrimination Act, an employer may be held vicariously liable for sexual harassment when the employer has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Ferrell and Fraedrich (2009) showed the steps which should be taken to avoid sexual misconduct or harassment charges:
A statement of policy naming someone in the company as ultimately responsible for preventing harassment at the company.
A definition of sexual harassment
A nonretaliation policy
Specific procedures for prevention
Establish, enforce, and encourage victims of sexual harassment to report the behavior to the authorized.
Establish a reporting procedure.
Make sure that the company has timely reporting requirements to the proper authorities.
4. Define, with reference to the...
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