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Sexual Harassment Paper Essay Sample


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Introduction of TOPIC

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere – in the street, at a nightclub, at an interview, in ashop, and often at workplace. It has nothing to do with mutual attraction or friendship betweenpeople, which is normal and positive. Sexual harassment, on the other hand, involveshumiliation or offence to the victim. It’s not fun, flattering or flirting and can happen to anyone.Men and women have different perceptions of sexual harassment. What may be a lighthearted joke to many men may be offensive to many women. In fact, the courts have said thatprofessional and unprofessional women are more adversely affected by sexual harassment thanmen, and it happens in the public and private sectors. Define sexual harassment as the term is used legally.

Sexual harassment is a form if sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the Equal Rights Advocates (2012), the legal definition of sexual harassment is “ unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasiveand affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment .”

Sexual harassment is avery serious form of employment discrimination in all types of workplaces. Explain how sexual harassment differs from gender discrimination. According to Moran (2011), sexual harassment is defined “(1) as sexual advance or request forsexual favors made by one employee or management to another which is unwelcome and notconsented to and (2) touching, joking, commenting or disturbing material of a sexual nature towhich an employee has consented and finds offensive.” The most common term used for gender discrimination is sexual affinity or sexual orientation. Under the Title VII of the CivilRights Act of 1964, employer cannot fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, orotherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, orprivileges of employment, because of such individual sex.

There are two kinds of genderdiscrimination: disparate treatment (it is treating an employee in a different manner because of their gender) & disparate impact ( it is animpacts against a particular racial, ethnic or sexgroup). Provide the legal definition of “quid pro quo” (also known as “vicarious liability”) sexualharassment. Provide one example of a behavior which could be found to be quid pro quosexual harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012), quid pro quo harassment (vicarious liability) occurs when “submissi on to or rejection of such conduct by an individual isused as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual. Basically, the concept of getting something of value in return for giving something of value. According to Moran (2011),an example of quid pro quo is, Clarence Conklin, a hospital administrator, who approaches anurse’s aides and tells her that he can arrange a different schedule hours for her if she is willingto sleep with him.

The hospital is liable for its employee because a benefit was denied to thenurse’s aide unless she agree to have sex. Provide the legal definition of hostile environment sexual harassment. Provide one exampleof a behavior which could be found to be hostile environment sexual harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012), the legal definition of hostile environment sexual harassment is when an individual is involved in hostile sexualadvances, request of sexual favors and can also be verbal and physical conduct of sexual nature where it affects the conditions of one’s employment and creates an abusive work environment.

Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. An example of a hostileenvironment sexual harassment is when a co-worker repeatedly making sexual comments,talking about one’s own sexual activities in front of others, and sending sexual gestures toanother co-worker without any action from management, in which causing the v

ictim tobecome angry and act out in defense. List the factors which contribute to a determination of

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whether behavior is sexualharassment. According to Moran (2011), there are six factors that must be satisfied for sexual harassment toexist: “(1) the victim must be from a protected class, a man or a woman.

(2) the complaint mustbe gender related. (3) the employee must not have consented to sexual advances orparticipated in hostile work environment. (4) the harassment must be based on sex. (5) theconduct complained must have deleterious effect in the victim’s job. (6) the harassment musthave occurred during the scope of employment.” Define the standard by which “unreasonable” behavior is determined. According to Moran (2011), “the standard by which sexual harassment will be judged is areasonable person standard. A reasonable person must believe must believe that the conductcomplained of must have substantially interfered with the victim’s ability to work or havecreated an environment that was intimidating and offensive.” An employer should exercise reasonable care to prevent any sexually harassing behavior so the victim can take advantage of any policy set for sexual harassment by the employer.

Explain what situations are considered “severe or pervasive” and why these terms areimportant. According to Moran (2011), “the alleged act of sexual harassment must be severe enough tocreate an abusive work environment and to disrupt the victim’s employment.” The hostileaction must be severe and pervasive so as to interfere with the performance of the employee’swork. The incidents of sexual harassment must occur at the workplace and if it has noconnection with work, then action against the employer is without merit. Give the main legal reason why every company should have a valid written policy againstsexual harassment (besides the fact it is the “right” thing to do.) The burden of preventing sexual harassment rests on the employer.

Employers are required bylaw to take steps to prevent and deal with harassment in the workplace. If the employer hasnot taken all reasonable steps to prevent and deal with harassment in the workplace, theemployer may be liable for any harassment. Anti-harassment policies explain what harassmentis, tell all employees that harassment will not be tolerated, and set out how employers andemployees should respond to incidents of harassment. Having an effective policy andprocedures, will assist in preventing harassment and support individuals who are beingharassed to come forward and ensure that the problem is addressed quickly and effectively;and severe actions will be taken against theperpetrator. Case Analysis:

I have chosen case Meritor Savings bank v. Vinson to discuss here. The facts: Michelle Vinson had alleged that her supervisor constantly subjected her to sexual harassment both during and after business hours, on and off the employer’s premises; she alleged that he forced her to have sexual intercourse with him on numerous occasions, fondled her in front of other employees, foll owed her into the women’s restroom and exposed himself to her, and even raped her on several occasions. She alleged that she submitted for fear of jeopardizing heremployment. She testified, however, that this conduct had ceased almost a year before shefirst complained in any way, by filing a Title VII suit, her EEOC charge was filed later. Thesupervisor and the employer denied all of her allegations and claimed they were fabricated inresponse to a work dispute. The issue:

The issues in this case are whether hostile work environment is an actionable form of sexualharassment and whether an employer is absolutely liable for sexual harassment whether itknows about it or not. Does unwelcome sexual behavior that creates a hostile workingenvironment constitute employment discrimination on the basis of sex. And, can a Title VIIviolation be shown when the district court found that any sexual relationship that existed between the plaintiff and her supervisor was a “voluntary one”. The decision:

After trial, the district court found the plaintiff was not the victim of sexual harassment and wasnot required to grant sexual favors as a condition of employment or promotion. The districtcourt found that if a sexual relationship had existed between plaintiff and her supervisor, it was  “a voluntary one and having nothing to do with her continued employment” (Meritor SavingsBank v. Vinson, 1986).

The district court went on to hold that the employer was not liable for its supervisor’s actions because it had no notice of the alleged sexual harassment; although theemployer had a policy against discrimination, the plaintiff had never lodged a complaint.This time, the employer appealed, and the case went to the Supreme Court of the UnitedStates. The Supreme Court agreed that the case should be remanded for consideration under the “hostile environment” theory and held that the proper inquiry focuses on theunwelcomeness of the conduct rather than the “voluntariness” of the victim’s participation (Harrison & Gilbert, 1992). But the Court held that the court of appeals was wrong in concludingthat employers are always automatically liable for sexual harassment by their supervisoryemployees. The Court rejected the employer’s argument that Title VII prohibits o nlydiscrimination that causes economic injury.

“Title VII affords employees the right to work in an environment free from discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult whether based on sex,race, religion, or national origin” (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2012). I {agree or disagree} with the court’s decision because…

I fully agree with the Court’s conclusion that workplace sexual harassment is illegal, and violatesTitle VII. However, part of the Court’s opinion leaves open the circumstances in which anemployer is responsible under Title VII for such conduct. With respect to conduct betweenfellow employees, an employer is responsible for acts of sexual harassment in the workplacewhere the employer (or its supervisory employees) knows or should have known of theconduct, unless it can show that it took immediate and appropriate action. Sexual harassment by a supervisor of an employee under his supervision, leading to a discriminatory workenvironment, should be imputed to the employer for Title VII purposes regardless of whetherthe employee gave “notice” of the offense.

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