Laws on Sexual Harassment at Place of Work

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a type of sex discernment that breaches Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Sexual harassment unwelcome sexual advances, physical or verbal conduct that are of a sexual nature or request for sexual favors that implicitly or explicitly affect a person’s terms or conditions of employment as well as the workplace environment.

Forms of Sexual Harassment

Generally, there are two forms of sexual harassment claims. The first form is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment. It normally occurs when employment decisions, such as assignments, promotions or keeping a job, rely on a person’s will to give in to acts such as unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favors (Hersch, 2015). Also, sexual harassment is considered quid pro quo if compliance to the aforementioned acts is made either implicitly or explicitly a condition or term of employment. The second form of sexual harassment is the hostile work environment claims. It constitutes sexual harassment acts that make the workplace environment offensive, hostile or intimidating. The second type also entails sexual harassment acts that have the purpose or effect of arbitrarily interfering with an individual’s work performance.

Undeniably, Case Study 3 is an obvious example of sexual harassment. The case describes Pam’s situation at her place of work. Pam is an attractive female employee who likes putting on blouses with plunging necklines, high heels, and short tight skirts. Most of the times when Pam walks down the office, her male colleagues and some female co-workers usually stare at her as some make knowing smiles whilst others shake their heads. Not once has Pam tried to tell her colleagues that their demeanor intimidates her, and has requested them to stop, but it has always been in vain.

Applicable Laws

A number of federal laws are applicable to claims of sexual harassment and they include; Title VI, VII, and IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. According to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for employers (in private or public entities) to discern against individuals in firing, hiring, promoting, and other conditions and terms of employment due to their sex. Courts of law have established that sexual harassment is a type of sexual discernment and as such, it is a violation of the laws that prevent sex discrimination at the place of work. Notably, Title VII applies to workplaces with at least 15 employees (Hersch, 2015). As such, for sexual harassment to be considered against the law, the firm has to have 15 or more workers. Additionally, the conduct has to be amply pervasive or severe in order to create hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment.

Any person (male or female) can fall victim to sexual harassment situations. The perpetrator or the victim may be a woman or a man, and her or his victim ought not necessarily to be of the opposite gender for Title VII to be applicable (Roberts and Mann, 2015). In addition, a perpetrator could be anyone at the place of work including a direct supervisor, a colleague or probably an individual not hired at the workplace of the victim. Analogously, a sexual harassment victim could be a person being directly sexually harassed or an employee who is secondarily but negatively affected by the demeanor.

Markedly, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is applicable to cases of sexual harassment or discernment in activities or programs that receive federal fiscal assistance and Title IX offers defendants accused of sexual harassment a right to a fair jury trial.

Handling a Sexual Harassment Case as a Manager

It is expedient and necessary for employers, managers, or other responsible persons or institutions in workplaces to ensure that certain guidelines are followed to handle cases of sexual harassment. If I was the manager at Pam’s place of work and I receive complaints regarding sexual harassment. The first thing that I would do is creating and communicating a clear anti-sexual harassment policy that would also encompass anti-retaliation components (Mainiero and Jones, 2013). I would make sure that the policy is complete and conforms to all the local, state, and federal laws. Once the policy is completely coined, I would make sure that it is printed in the worker’s handbook and that every worker has a copy. As such, Pam’s co-workers would be aware that the act is not appropriate and probably they would stop making Pam feel intimidated. In addition, Pam would be aware of the options that she can take if she finds herself in that situation again. Furthermore, I would define the clear consequences for sexual harassment and apply them consistently when such demeanor is discovered.

As the manager, I would also train the supervisors on the actions that they ought to take once they receive complaints from employees. It would important for them to understand their role in maintaining an entity that has zero tolerance to cases of sexual harassment. In addition, I would develop a clear procedure for investigating complaints of sexual harassment. I would immediately look into the complaint and take the necessary steps to ensure that the demeanor stops whilst the investigations are still ongoing (Lin, Babbitt, and Brown, 2014). After the investigations, I would take the appropriate disciplinary action to the perpetrators. It would be important to ensure that the complaint is handled timely so as to prevent such culture at the place of work.

Measures to Prevent Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

Preventing cases of sexual discernment and harassment at the place of work is not only a legal obligation that ought to be followed but it also makes good sense. It is a smart move for business since allowing the flourishing of sexual harassment in a work environment can lead to paying higher prices in terms of poor employee morale, lawsuits, and low productivity (

One of the best ways to prevent sexual harassment at the place of work is cultivating a culture that has zero tolerance for sexual harassment. This can be realized in numerous ways such as ensuring that the work-sponsored activities after working hours remain professional in nature. It would also be important to ensure that the direct supervisors are aware of where to draw the border line with workers in terms of tolerating the off-color jokes as well as other offensive material. It is important to make workers and supervisors know that the work environment is not a place for making crude jokes. In addition, if a sexual harassment complaint comes in, it would be imperative to immediately address it with complete care and seriousness. In case it is determined beyond doubt that sexual harassment took place at the place of work, it would be necessary to take appropriate and immediate action to prevent such demeanor in the future. In addition, not tolerating retaliatory behavior against persons who have filed sexual harassment complaints would help in preventing the occurrence of such behavior again hence nurturing a work environment that is sexual harassment free. Furthermore, monitoring electronic communications such as emails to scan if they have harassing content and stopping them right away will help develop a culture not tolerant to sexual harassment acts.

Handling a Sexual Harassment Complaint at the Workplace

If I was the manager at a place of work where a sexual harassment complaint has been filed, I would take the appropriate steps in handling the case without demonstrating any bias. The first thing I would do is expressing that the act is prohibited at the premises by notifying, publishing and circulating the necessary information in appropriate ways. Secondly, I would assign a staff in the company to utterly own the complaint and investigate it to ascertain that it qualifies to be considered as a form of sexual discernment so as to know the applicable laws. The staff member ought to be a person who is knowledgeable about the company, the history and the people in the organization. The investigation would be primarily planned based on the current knowledge.

Furthermore, it would be imperative to talk to the employee filing the complaint. I would guarantee the employee that she or he is safe from vengeance and she or he took the right action in filing the complaint. I would then ask the employee to tell me the entire story as systematically document the conversation. That would entail writing down relevant facts like times, dates, witnesses, situations, and any other relevant information. I would then interview the accused while applying similar listening and deferential approach that was accorded to the one complaining. Based on the documentation, it would then be possible to decide if sexual harassment took place and take the appropriate action against the perpetrator.

After that, I would make sure that no further incidences take place by following up whilst documenting the follow-up with the worker who filed the original sexual harassment claim as well as the perpetrator. I would ensure that working situations are fairly adjusted where necessary for the productivity and comfort of all.

References

Hersch, J. (2015). Sexual harassment in the workplace. IZA World of Labor.

Roberts, B. S., & Mann, R. A. (2015). Sexual harassment in the workplace: A primer. Akron Law Review, 29(2), 5.

Mainiero, L. A., & Jones, K. J. (2013). Sexual harassment versus workplace romance: Social media spillover and textual harassment in the workplace. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 27(3), 187-203.

Lin, X., Babbitt, L., & Brown, D. (2014). Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: How does it Affect Firm Performance and Profits?.

Holland, K. J., Rabelo, V. C., Gustafson, A. M., Seabrook, R. C., & Cortina, L. M. (2016). Sexual harassment against men: Examining the roles of feminist activism, sexuality, and organizational context. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17(1), 17.

Wolff, J. M., Rospenda, K. M., & Colaneri, A. S. (2016). Sexual harassment, psychological distress, and problematic drinking behavior among college students: an examination of reciprocal causal relations. The Journal of Sex Research, 1-12.