Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Why Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is Unethical
Stephanie Curtis Athens State University
Where you have people working for you or with you, there is always conflict in the work place. Sexual harassment is one of those conflicts that is logically and ethically wrong and easily preventable and yet, 90% of all the Fortune 500 companies have had a sexual harassment claim or payout (Penrod & Fusilier, 2010). Sexual harassment is something that all companies need to worry about.
Sexual harassment is legally defined as unwanted conduct, not necessarily sexual touching or groping, it is also defined as obscene gestures and unwanted conduct around the work place. Sexual harassment can happen to any gender by any gender, it is not directly gendered towards men harassing women; however, it is the most common combination. This can be called the power-threat model- "it suggests that women who threaten men’s dominance are the most frequent targets" (McLaughlin, Uggen & Blackstone, 2012). Women who hold higher positions are also more likely to experience this type of harassment more than women who are in lower positions. It is often questioned as to how she obtained that position, rather than to just assume she got there by her smarts and experience.
Sexual harassment laws were first recognized in 1986 with Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. It said that "sexual harassment was a form of discrimination on the basis of sex, since it affects the terms and conditions of employment" (Penrod & Fusilier, 2010) This includes “quid pro quo”; or “this for that”; in the work place, like a promotion for favors. Since this case was the first one of its kind, it wasn’t perfect. There were five elements in which the harassment had to fit for it to be classified as sexual harassment and the person doing so would be reprimanded: the victim had to be a protected class, the harassment was unwelcome, the harassment was because of sex, the harassment was severe, and the employer is responsible for the harassment (because the employer is responsible for educating their employers about the affects of harassment) (Penrod & Fusilier, 2010). Since Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, there have been many other suits against employers with sexual harassment. With each of these suits, they redefine what is considered sexual harassment to keep up with the times. In 1984 when Meritor first passed, you did not have cell phone issues like we have now. In July of 2014, a law passed in New Jersey that taking up skirt photos with your cell phone in the work place is now considered sexual harassment, but how long have camera phones been easily obtained by the public, seven years? Seven years is too long to think about all the people who have been harassed this way and it technically was not against sexual harassment policies. The new thing is "textual harassment" which involves sending offensive or inappropriate text messages, including sending salacious texts, asking for dates repeatedly, and sending photos of genitals (Mainiero & Jones 2013). With new technology and each passing year, the lines of sexual harassment get blurred and it takes more years for the laws to keep up with the times. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Frys Electronics Inc in 2012 officially made texting an employee harassing things illegal; the person was fired because of this. This settlement paid out $2.3 million dollars.
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to discriminate against gender and sex; and sexual harassment falls under discrimiation. It is unethical to let sexual harassment continue on in any place of business, Sexual harassment affects the victim more than anyone; they may suffer with emotional damage because of the actual harassment or because the reported it and they are getting scolded...
References: Guerin, L. (2012, August 1). Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Retrieved October 8, 2014, from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/preventing-sexual-harassment-workplace-29851.html
McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C., & Blackstone, A. (2012). Sexual Harassment, Workplace Authority and the Paradox of Power. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 625-647. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from EBSCO Host., 151-167. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from EBSCO Host.
Oliveira, I., & Ambrosio, V. (2013). Sexual Harassment in the Hotel Housekeeping Department. International Journal of Management Cases, 15(4), 180-192. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from EBSCO Host.
Penrod, C., & Fusilier, M. (2011). Improving Sexual Harassment Protections: An Examination of the Legal Compliance of U.S. University Sexual Harassment Policies. Workplace Rights,15(2)
Szostek, J., & Hobson, C. (2012). EEOC Sexual Harassment Settlements: An Empirical Analysis.38(1). Retrieved October 23, 2014, from eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom.index.cfm
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