Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established in 1975 and since this time sexual harassment has been one of its major issues that arise in the workplace on a day to day basis. Sexual harassment can be defined as “unwanted sexual attention that would be offensive to a reasonable person and that negatively affects the work or school environment” (Brandenburg 1997, p.1). The key word in this definition is “unwanted.” The EEOC has used its influence under the Sex Discrimination Act to support claims of sexual harassment at employment tribunals. It has also initiated investigation on organizations that had an excessive number of sexual harassment complaints. The guidelines by the EEOC about sexual harassment are defined as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the working environment. (Bohlander & Snell pg112)
There are two types of sexual harassment quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment, in which the EEOC recognizes that, will elaborate on. We will also investigate the liability that is held by employers if sexual harassment is not recognized and how employers can prevent from being liable. We will also discuss how failure to adopt a pro-active and aggressive stance on this issue can result in costly lawsuits, and also be a loss of employee morale, decline in productivity, and an erosion of a company's public image.
Review of Literature
“A Legal and Psychological Framework” focuses on variety of points concerning sexual harassment. First of all, in the order for companies to act wisely they need to understand the whole issue of sexual harassment. They should consider the disturbing statistics behind an often hidden problem, the legal grounds available to victims, the current trends in the law, and the ways that companies can protect themselves. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an act that should be studied and acknowledged by all companies. It has made it “illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin and sex”. (Bladley & Fishkin, 1998, p. 207). This gave birth to Title VII of the Act, which states that when a complaint is made, employers are obligated to investigate and take necessary corrective measures.
In 1986, the Supreme Court held that employers can reduce the danger of being held liable for sexual harassment by establishing procedures "calculated to encourage victims of harassment to come forward." Since then, almost 75 percent of companies with more than one hundred employees have adopted anti-sexual harassment policies. Most of those policies look very much like the "Sample Antiharassment Policy" reproduced in Barbara Lindemann and David Kadue's Sexual Harassment in Employment Law, which first appeared in 1992. (Rosen, 1998, p. 25-35)
"If you are in management, now is the time to refine your sexual harassment policy so that it is in the spirit of your organization's values rather than written to the letter of the law," writes Rita Risser in a report in 1996 by Fair Measures Management Law Consulting Group. "Your policy should go beyond [what the law forbids]. If you set your standards too low, one mistake by one supervisor could make you the next landmark case. Also, the EEOC accepts claims for conduct that clearly is not illegal. Since it's costly to respond to such claims, it's in an organization's best interest to minimize them." (Rosen, 1998, p. 25-35)
Sexual harassment is embodied in two different forms and companies should be aware of them. The first type is Quid pro quo is a Latin term, which means this for that. It occurs when an individual's submission to or rejection of sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual or the individual's submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of employment. It is sufficient to show a threat of economic loss to