Sexual harassment at the work place occurs when someone engages in an unwelcome behavior on gender basis that affects someone's work. It is defined by the equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) as the unwelcome sexual advances, requests to for sexual favors and the verbal or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature. This happens when: Someone submits themselves to the conduct either implicitly or explicitly. It may be a term or set condition for someone to be employed; the conduct is used as a basis for employment decision targeting the victims; the conduct is aimed at unreasonably affecting the individuals' performance at work or creating an offensive, hostile or intimidating working environment.
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An environment will be classified as sexually hostile only if the following conditions are satisfied. Firstly, the behavior must be subjectively abusive to the affected person and secondly the behavior must be intentionally brutal or persuasive to create an environment that any reasonable person will realize it is abuse. To determine whether in fact the behavior is severe or persuasive enough as to create a hostile environment, the fact finder will have the following to consider the following: The occurrences of the unwelcome and discriminatory behavior; how severe the situation is; Whether the occurrence was humiliating or causing physical threat or whether it was a mere offensive utterance; Analysis of whether the conduct was unreasonably interfering with the work performance; The alleged effect on the employee's psychological well being; The position of the culprit in the organization.
There is no single factor required to establish sexual harassment. There should me more than reasonable doubt that there was intention to molest sexually. One incidence where a woman's supervisor asked her out for a date, placed his hand on her shoulder, placed notes written "I love one" on her working area and made an attempt to kiss her. There was no evidence of any legal violation. A hostile environment sexual harassment will also not be found where women are asked for dates by co-workers for at least three offensive incidences over a time period of 18 months or even where someone is subjected to occasional teasing or even crude jokes or sexual remarks. However in the case where a woman was touched in a sexually offensive manner in a confined workplace, was again subjected to long patterns of ridicule and abuse in the terms of gender or even forced into unwelcome sexual advances, then this amounted to sexual harassment.
The stated examples show how serious sexual offences should be in order for them to be considered legally actionable. In the presence of such, employers will be careful enough to address the issue of unwelcome conduct a good far off distance from the possibility of creating a hostile environment that will possibly cause a basis for legal suit.
Out rightly hostile environments are hard to determine. The facts of each prevailing situation determine whether the offensive conduct has gone beyond tolerance to the unlawful gender discrimination. Some of the courts ascertain that men have a different level of sensitivity from the female counterparts. The behavior that may not offend a reasonable man may be the cause of a legal suit for the women. In one of the studies that were conducted, it was found that, while 15% of the men could feel insulted by a sexual approach in the work place two thirds of the men surveyed said they would only be flattered by such an occurrence. The women who were interviewed on the same matter gave a totally different response to that. This different level of sensitivity has made the judges to adopt different levels of judgment for these cases of sexual harassment. Under these standards, a reasonable woman would actually feel harassed even a reasonable man on the other hand may not see the whole matter that way.
Since these legal boundaries are not marked with standard, the best thing to do will be to avoid any sexual charges in the work place. One may know that their behavior is offensive to the co-worker and hence avoid any close crash with them. This is quite important to avoiding such legal suits. Where individuals are in doubt about their character that could cause sexual harassment, it is then important to ask oneself the following questions: Is it the verbal or the physical behavior of sexual nature?; Is my conduct offensive to the people around me?; Is the behavior being initiated by only one party who is stronger than the other?; Does the employee have to coup with such behavior in order to maintain their job?; Does this conduct make the job of the employee unpleasant?
The unwelcome conduct can be termed as sexual harassment being addressed. Dating, jokes that are sexual and touching the counterpart may not be considered as sexual harassment if such behavior is entertained by the people involved. Any conduct directed towards someone may be considered unwelcome if it was not initiated by the recipient and they regard it as offensive. Some sexual advances are blatant and crude that the way they are addressed portrays that the request is not at all welcome. In more typical cases however the reaction of the recipient would be the only key to determine whether the request is welcome (Buhler, 1999).
A clear case would be when the employee openly reacts to a potential harasser by telling them that their conduct is not welcome and makes the employer feel uncomfortable with the fearless blame. Another approach to tackle the issue would be to persistently reject to engage in the unwelcome behavior. A woman who refuses to date another would have done enough to make her response clear and hence disorient the harasser.
When an offended employee fails to respond clearly, a problem definitely occurs. Sometimes our politeness, fears or indecisions will sometimes make us not to show our true feelings known. A woman employee when asked out for dinner may fail to say 'no way' but instead say "not today, I have some prior commitments". The invitation is not actually offensive but the problem is whether the response was actually a welcome statement.
Continued sexual relationships among the employees will make it difficult to ascertain whether there this conduct is welcome. The employees have the right to deny or to put an end to such relationship without fear of retaliation from fear in the work place. This means that a conduct that was once welcome has now become unwelcome. Due to the previous behavior however, it is important to make it very clear that one have no intention to continue with the relationship (Egler, 1995).
The following things must not be done: One must not invite the harasser for dinner or even to parties especially after an offensive conduct has taken place, should not tease or even flirt with the alleged harasser or wear provocative clothing or behave in a manner that signals sexual mannerisms around the harasser. Also one should not use language that is vulgar in the work place or perform sexual horseplay in the same.
It is therefore very necessary to make ones displeasure known and promptly clear to the harasser. Some of the employers may be actually unaware of how their actions are being perceived by the others. Some of them may also be insensitive to the reactions of fellow workers. This is a reason why one should make it clearly known to the harasser that their conduct or behavior is unacceptable to one. In the worst of it one should always refuse to participate in the behavior.
One may not feel offended by the actions of other fellow workmate but the important thing is to understand that some core workers will not be comfortable with such actions. To ascertain whether ones conduct is not welcome, one may as well as oneself the following questions: Would there be behavior change on my side if one of the family members was in the room; would one allow such behavior to be subjected to other family members?
The employee and the employer are party to the efforts to maintain a harassment free environment. Many of the organizations distribute their policies that contain examples of the unacceptable behavioral character in the workplaces. They also provide the procedures for handling such the complaints that are brought forth. Such policies do actually forbid behavior that falls short of the unacceptable sexual harassment conduct. It is therefore very important to learn the employers' policies before taking on a job. The policies do provide that any instance of violated policy rules would lead to subjected disciplinary penalties, this may even mean an immediate discharge, the complaining employee will be told the measures taken even if they are not exactly told what was done (Bahls, 1997).
If someone encounters sexual harassment anywhere, there are measures that one should take; these measures include making a quick report to the appropriate official. It may not be necessary to report to the senior especially where that superior or someone in that same level is the one who is victimizing one. There also some do's and some don'ts that will help. It is important to keep in mind that sexual harassment is an organizational problem and the employer wants to know whether such occurrences are still occurring in the company. This will help them fight the ailment by making sure such an offence is not repeated again. One should therefore report the incidence immediately especially if they are recurrent. A comprehensive research done by American management found that roughly two thirds of the internal reports result to some penalties being imposed to the alleged harasser. More and more internal reports result in either discipline or counseling on the other hand.
Admit that there is an existent problem. Tell the offending party that you find offence in them and that their conduct does not portray good qualities of an employee. For example, one may tell them not to refer to one as honey but to call one by ones name instead. One should not blame oneself for the behavior of another person, unless the behavior is totally inoffensive. One can also not afford to ignore the behavior, unless the behavior is truly offensive. One should not handle such severe or recurring harassment problem all by oneself. One needs to get help. The case of failing to complain can be harmful to the legal interests that one do have if one claim that harassment forced one the quit. It is hard to blame the employer for failing to stop harassment in the work place especially where one never gave them a chance to so.