Origins of Sexual Harassment and Its Expanding Laws
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) defined sexual harassment as “an experience that reasonable person in the same or comparable circumstances would find to be intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” This definition may seem clear and defined in terms of the law, but it is not. Early in the United State of America there were no laws. Majority of workers were treated to low pay and poor working conditions. At this stage the United States had a large immigration population. Over time these people settled, became more educated and were more inclined to disagree with their poor working conditions. More changes evolved with discrimination laws growing. The freeing of the slaves in 1865 and the far reaching Civil Rights Act of 1964 are two of the dominant changes. One major part of the act was that a person could not be “discriminated against due to their...sex” (“Civil Rights Act” 1964). The case law grew from 1964. It is important to note that America as a nation is constantly changing. According to (Zimbroff, 2007) emigrants keep redefining what is and what is not acceptable in society. It is important to note that according to (Walsh, 2009) sexual harassment laws are defined in a subjective tone. Many countries such as Europe have a labor law system to deal with complaints regarding labor issues. To depict the developments of sexual harassment over the last thirty years or so, it is important to look at how employment law has developed over the last number of centuries. From the late sixteen hundreds through the seventeen hundreds workers initiated the process of organizing groups to fight against barbaric employers. American workers have had to fight for their rights. Many states have an “at will” employment law. This type of labor law leaves many employees vulnerable. The government has passed a number of laws to assist employees. An example of this is Wisconsin enacting the first unemployment law in 1932. The biggest change to American society was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made most discrimination unlawful. This will be discussed in more detail. This act changed how workers were treated as they now had a legal basis to deal with unfairness in the workplace. It is proven that the government has tried to intervene in the labor laws of the country but they have just not been able to make any real change to affect the people of the country. The countries sexual harassment law if based on precedent. There are a few key terms that must be discussed to help explain sexual harassment law in the United States. The following are two types of harassment outlined in the EEOC: Quid Pro Quo: According to (Zimbroff, 2007, p2) this is the “treat or promise of job related consequences resulting from the withholding or giving of sexual favors.” The demands can be either “implicit or explicit” and there has to be a “tangible loss” involved, if this is to be used as an actionable case. Examples of tangible loss or gain that need to be proven are promotion or demotion, job retention or transfers. “Power Playing” (Zimbroff, 2007) is one of the main types of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid Pro Quo harassment can be hard to prove as the victim must prove the offer actually happened. Once proven, a case for sexual harassment under “Quid Pro Quo” may easily be tried and ultimately won by the plaintiff. The Hostile Environment: With this type of Sexual Harassment you need to be able to show that a work environment has become intimidating, hostile or offensive due to unwanted or over use of sexual language or physical conduct where the employee has become uncomfortable or embarrassed and as a result their ability to perform their job is impaired (Walsh J, 2009). Walsh wrote of how hard it is to prove this type of sexual harassment. Burden of proof rest on the plaintiff. “The conduct complained of must be severe enough or sufficiently...
References: Goodman-Delahunty Jane (1998, February) Approaches to Gender and the Law.
Glazer S (1996 July) Crackdown on Sexual Harassment retrieved from www.thefreeonlincelibrary.com
Jack In The Box Sued for Sexual Harassment (2009) retrieved from www.eeoc.gove/newsroom/release/12-23-09a.cfm
Zimbraff J (May 2007) Cultural differences in perceptions of and responses to ...(n.d). Retrieved from
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