Sexual Harassment Research Paper

Submitted By ah421
Words: 951
Pages: 4

Abigail Hollis
HSA 414
Spring 2015
April 20, 2015
Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment is commonly thought to only happen to women in the workplace. However, more than ten percent of the claims that are filed are done so by men claiming they were the one sexually harassed. Universally, women report that they have been harassed by a male coworker; while men that report that they have been harassed say it was by an equal percentage of male and female coworkers. Most sexual harassment claims are unreported because the harassed person often fears retribution for their speaking out about the situation. Sexual harassment is commonly defined as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical contact of a sexual nature that is severe and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.” Anyone in the workplace can be a potential sexual harasser, some more than others. Supervisors are the most frequent harassers, followed in no particular order by coworkers, customers, vendors, former employees, subordinates and other employees. While sexual harassment may seem like a broad topic, there are two basic types of harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment. When it comes to quid pro quo harassment, it is usually that employment outcomes are linked to granting sexual favors. For example, a supervisor offering a promotion to a subordinate if they will meet his or her sexual demands. Generally, quid pro quo is perpetrated by an employee’s superior, employment decisions hinge on whether the employee will provide the sexual favor or not, and the company is held liable for this type of sexual harassment. This type of sexual harassment can also happen when there is a threat of negative work consequences for refusing to confer sexual favors. For example, someone may be threatened with job loss, demotion, bad performance reviews, unfavorable shifts, etc. Even just a single incidence of quid pro quo sexual harassment is illegal and can be the grounds for a lawsuit because with quid pro quo harassment, the employer can be found legally liable for the actions of the supervisor who commits the harassment because supervisors are deemed to be acting on behalf of the employer. Hostile environment harassment happens when an individual’s work performance or psychological well-being is unreasonably affected by intimidating or offensive working conditions. Some actions that would fall under this form of harassment are: commenting on appearance or physical attire, telling jokes that are suggestive or sexual in any manner, allowing revealing photographs and/or posters to be displayed, or making continual requests to “get together” after work that may create an environment of hostility in the workplace. Unlike quid pro quo harassment, a hostile work environment does not require any employment benefit or threat to be at risk. Since it is not tied to the promise or threat of particular employment actions, this type of sexual harassment is found across all levels of employees (superiors, coworkers, or possibly even third parties). Another important distinction here is that inappropriate behavior between employees may also create a hostile work environment for other employees who were not actually the target of the behavior. However, in order for an employer to be held liable for harassment in a situation like this that occurs between two employees (neither of whom is a supervisor), generally it must be shown that the employer was either aware of the situation or should have been aware of the situation and did not fulfill the proper steps to stop the harassment or prevent it from occurring again. If the employer did take the proper immediate steps to stop the harassment once it was brought to their attention, and if the employer has also taken steps to prevent it, the employer may have a defense