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Sex in the Workplace

In: Social Issues

Submitted By maggie09
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Does Sex Have a Place in the Workplace?

The purpose for this term paper is to review the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. As the workforce and diversity in the workforce increase, sexual harassment has a higher chance to occur. I will discuss how sexual harassment is viewed, what constitutes sexual harassment, ways to prevent it from happening, the cause of sexual harassment, the conduct, consequences, types, laws, how it should be handled in the workplace and also give my view points
In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), issued its first formal guidelines on sexual harassment to give employers some directions on what qualifies as sexual harassment and knowing the specifics. According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website sexual harassment is defined as unwelcomed sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Professor Vicky Schultz article “The Sanitized Workplace,” reference that most management theorists and feminist lawyers believe that sex does not have a place in the workplace. In Professor Schultz’s article The Sanitized Workplace, Schultz goes on to say the American society’s most cherished beliefs are that the workplace is, or should be asexual. This means that in the workplace there should not be a distinction between males and females. Trying to do away with workplace distinction would close doors women have tried so hard to keep open that will allow some sort of equality in the workplace. If the asexual standard was implemented in the workplace, the outcome would not be beneficial to those involved. What can cause sexual harassment? There isn’t a specific cause for sexual harassment. It can happen anywhere and to anyone. But some factors that can lead to sexual harassment can be the way a person dress. The clothing attire can be something like an extremely short skirt with a tight blouse. Some would say just because the young lady dresses this way she should expect to be treated a certain way, but that is not accurate. A woman can come to work dressed in a tailored suit and inappropriate things can be said. The way someone acts can also cause sexual harassment. You can have an employee who is overly friendly, someone who’s a people person or you can have someone who is constantly flirting with fellow co-workers.
Does sex have a place in the workplace? Most would say no. Let’s analyze what constitute as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can consist of a variety of but not limited to visual, verbal, or physical touching than can be extreme in nature. Here are numerous types of sexual harassment and what they can mean:
• Visual – this can be inappropriate emails, pictures, drawing, posters and other images that reveal unwanted sexual fascination
• Physical – touching , simulated movement, improper and unwanted kissing, stroking, hugging, patting and sexual assault
• Written or Verbal comments made about someone’s physicals appearance, personality or attire. Requesting sexual favors, inappropriate jokes, continuously asking someone out when they constantly refuses, threatening someone with sexual advances or even starting rumors about sexuality aspects
• Non-Sexual – Discrimination based on gender is also considered sexual harassment. An example of this is if a woman is working at a construction site or any workplace that is considered to be “man’s work,” or a man working someplace where it is considered “woman’s work.”
• Non-Verbal – facial expressions that can be seen as sexual, staring at a person’s body parts, hand gestures, and following or stalking someone
There can be consequences to a person who commits any form of sexual harassment in the workplace. If any of the previous infractions are committed those consequences can include but are not limited to probation, termination, criminal fine and community service. Supervisor and managers should take the necessary precautions if someone comes forward with any claim of sexual harassment. A thorough investigation needs to be put into place with consequences and actions to follow. It’s illegal to harass a potential employee, co-worker, and supervisor. The harassment does not have to be sexual in nature it can include pestering based on a person sex and remarks that constitute as unpleasant. Harassment is only illegal if when it is done excessively and creates problem that may affect the work place, or if a decision was made regarding the employment of the victim and demotion or firing followed.
The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex. The terms of this law can be implied when issues of sexual harassment are raised in the work place. Sexual harassment policies have been established in the workplace to add incentive and also legitimize management to discipline and control nearly harmless sexual behavior. In the early 90’s numerous sexual harassment lawsuits became popular. Some high profile cases include “The Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas case in 1991.” Anita Hill accused then Supreme Court hopeful, Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Even though the alleged harassment happened years prior to the nomination, Anita Hill brought it to the forefront as a character flaw issue. A more recent sexual harassment case was with presidential hopeful Herman Cain. In 2011 allegations surfaced from 5 different women who claimed Herman Cain sexually harassed them dating back to the early 90’s. Again the incidents happen years prior and my initial thought was why bring these issues up now. But looking at the bigger picture it took courage for these women to come forward with this information, knowing they can will be scrutinized. After so many years have passed by without anything being said it’s even harder to prove that the sexual harassment happened.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can happen to anyone. When the issues of sexual harassment are talked about, society may think women are only harassed. Most sexual harassment cases go unreported because of the fear that women or men have. But more men are coming forward and not just sweeping it under the rug. According to The Daily Beast, an affiliate of Newsweek, between 1992 and 2008, the percentage of sexual harassment charges filed by men with the EEOC doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent. Men are harassed by women and men in the workplace but are reluctant to tell because of the double standards that are in place in our society.
There are two types of sexual harassment as defined by the EEOC: Hostile Environment and Quid Pro Quo. Hostile environment is defined as unwelcomed conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with job performance, or creating and intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Lewd jokes, sexually explicit posters, or sexual comments are considered to be hostile environment. Quid pro quo harassment is defined as managers, supervisors, or others with authority make sexual demands and submission to or rejection of those demands is used as a basis for employment decisions such as termination or promotions. Some organizations have really invested a lot of time and money to make sure that none of these types of sexual harassment occurs in the work place. Although negative publicity and monetary awards can be costly to an organization when dealing with sexual harassment issues, there is a relatively small chance a law suit will be filed. Sexual harassment prevention is not an easy task to accomplish. There are steps that can be taken when an employee is receiving unwanted sexual advancements.
1. Employee should contact the supervisor or Human Resource the minute they feel uncomfortable.
2. A written or verbal communication should be addressed to the individual who’s doing the harassing. It needs to be noted that the victim is feeling uncomfortable and it needs to stop.
3. Disciplinary actions against the harasser should be directly related to the harshness of the incident. A warning may be utilized for some incidents and suspension or immediate termination may be used for others.
4. The employer is legally required to prevent sexual harassment by informing the employees that harassment will not be tolerated.
5. The organization should give harassment training to their employees to inform them of the signs of sexual harassment as well as the proper channels to go through if they feel threatened.
6. A company wide announcement needs to be established educating employees their rights to a harassment-free environment
In conclusion sexual harassment is a horrible thing to have to go through and it is also hard to prove if the individual does not have concrete evidence. If an individual is feeling uncomfortable by physical things being done to them or in their vicinity such as sexual touching, displaying or distributing sexual materials or pictures, or if things are being said to them such as sexual jokes, remarks, teasing, negative sexual remarks about a group, asked for sexual favors, sexual assault, inappropriate e-mails, inappropriate use of the Internet, constantly being asked or pressured for a date, immediate action has to take place. The EEOC offers updates on the guidelines on sexual harassment as well as other work related issues. Companies should pay close attention to these updates and inform employees of any changes so the employees can be well informed.…...

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