Sexual Harassment in the Computer Age.4
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Work Place5
Role of the Human Resource Department5
Supreme Court Decisions on Sexual Harassment.6
Sexual harassment as a form of bullying..7
Sexual harassment as intentional tort9
Liability of the employer for the injury or harm caused by the employee9
This paper aims to present the consequences of sexual harassment incidents that occur in multinational companies, firms and organizations in the U.S. At the same time, the independent
and dependent variables of sexual harassment will be analyzed. For the independent variable, it shall include absenteeism of the employee-victim, turnover intentions, and job dissatisfaction due to wages, benefits, opportunity for promotion, and work environment. On the other hand, the dependent control variables shall include the race, gender, age, education attainment and marital status of the employee. Finally, there will be recommendations on how to prevent sexual harassment incidents inside the work place by implementing effective policies and the procedures to be followed when making a report involving a sexual harassment conduct or behavior committed against a co-worker. Decided cases of the Supreme Court on sexual harassment cases will also be discussed as part of the presentation.
Keywords: sexual harassment, sexual favors, sexual harassment policies, and hostile work environment.
Merkin (2008, p.73) stated that sexual harassment has caused negative impact on employees on the personal level. To illustrate this claim, workplace sexual harassment has been identified as one of the causes that undermine job satisfaction and affective commitment of employees. Studies have shown that loss of businesses in the U.S. due to sexual harassment cases has risen to $1 billion per year (Meiner, 2008). As a result, this has driven various multinational firm and organizations have given a precise definition of sexual harassment pursuant to the definition under the EEOC. Sexual harassment is referred to as the unsolicited sexual advances, verbal and physical behavior of sexual nature constitute that is tantamount to harassment, requests for sexual favors, and other instances which will become a condition for employment of a person that will be dependent on whether he or she will agree to the sexual favor and when the conduct has the interfered with the employee’s work performance that has established an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (Merkin, 2008, p.74). The traditional interpretation of sexual harassment deals with the male-to-female harassment that is happening inside the workplace as evidenced by the statistical records that revealed the number of male-on-female harassment that actually occur in conventional workplace environment (Toomey and Wysocki, 2010, p. 1).
Sexual Harassment in the Computer Age
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Work Place
In order to resolve this issue, multinational companies, firms and organizations in the U.S. have been forced to establish their own sexual harassment policies to avoid the costs of legal suits and the loss of income for the company due to absenteeism and turnover of employee-victims. The best way to combat sexual harassment or charges against the employer, it is vital that the following steps are met. The first step is to establishing a statement policy that will appoint a designated employee who shall be in charge of sexual harassment cases. The second step is to lay down the definition of sexual harassment by giving actual case scenarios that will include unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal and visual conduct that is equivalent to abusive behavior against employees. The third step is to create a non-retaliation policy that will safeguard the employee-victim and witnesses. The fourth step is to provide specific procedures that will avoid early stages of sexual harassment in the work place. The fifth step is to inspire the employees to come forward to report sexual harassment incidents. The final step is to create a reporting system guarantees that the firm or organization will submit a timely report (Ferrel, Fraedrich and Ferrel, 2011).
Role of the Human Resource Department
safeguard the workplace from any type of harassment that may cause prejudicial treatment to some of their employees. The supervisor or manager should be vigilant for any occurrence of such incidents, especially nontraditional sexual harassment in terms of impropriety or
severity of the given situation. Any act of sexual harassment is a violation under the U.S.
Federal law and in the workplace environment since the act is considered unlawful. However, it shall be the duty of every company to implement managerial action in the event that nontraditional sexual harassment will arise. One of the steps to avoid this from happening is by educating the employees by making sure that they are informed on the issue of nontraditional sexual harassment. It shall be the responsibility of the company to encourage the employees who become victim of sexual harassment to come forward to the appropriate agency, which is the EEOC and report the incident (Toomey and Wysocki, 2010, p. 2).
The head of the Human Resource Department of every firm or organization must warrant that company policies on sexual harassment are strictly enforced to as precautionary measures to avoid sexual harassment cases in the future. It is imperative that all workers should abide by these rules to promote equality, fairness and equal opportunity for all employees. It shall be the primary duty of the human resource department of the organization to provide educational seminars, talks and trainings within the work place to inform the employees of their rights and how to protect themselves from sexually abusive conduct of co-workers. In this approach, the employees will well-apprised of their rights and will have a deeper understanding on the policies imposed.
Supreme Court Decisions on Sexual Harassment
The challenge in this policy-making process and training implementation is the non-participation of the victim employees. It shall be the responsibility of the employee victim of sexual harassment in the work place to immediately report the incident as part of his or her obligation to protect individual rights. In the decided case of Landrau Romero vs. Carribeans Restaurants, Inc., the Supreme Court has decided to dismiss the sexual-harassment claim of the employee for the failure of the employee to retain a receipt copy of the sexual harassment form and acknowledged receipt thereof. Thus, the failure of the employee-victim to notify the employer of the alleged harassment or non-mention of such claim in his resignation letter has precluded the employee to claim for damages. In the analogous case of Montero vs. AGCO Group, which has similar facts involved has relieved the employer from liability after having established the fact of an existing anti-sexual harassment policy in place. Thus, the failure of the employee to observe the guideline of the current policy of the company will warrant the dismissal of a claim for sexual harassment. Here, the Supreme Court denied the claim of a former warehouse employee for non-reporting despite the presence of an anti-sexual harassment policy in the company will result to a dismissal of the claim. Thus, the failure of the employee to observe the procedure imposed by the policy and took 2 years prior to reporting of the incident shall preclude the claimant to recover damages.
Sexual Harassment as a form of bullying
The report of Meiner (2008) has shown that sexual harassment is a common experience among women. There are instances when the male-dominated work place has become the breeding ground where offensive language and behavior have grown in significant portion inside the workforce. Some of these acts include off-color jokes, verbal language, and activities that were once acceptable became the source of legal actions. The sexual harassment shall not only be restricted to verbal remarks but covers non-verbal behavior including the act of staring at colleagues in provocative way, staring at a co-worker in an upward or downward manner; blocking the path of way and standing close to the victim, stalking a co-worker, sending and giving out indecent personal gifts, hand gestures or body movements such as facial expressions that include winking, licking of lips and throwing out kisses pointing to the victim. These actions fall under the definition of sexual harassment behavior or conduct. It is highly unethical and immoral for superiors to use their position to make advances against an employee.
It is imperative for employers to penalize those who conduct sexually obnoxious behavior in the work place. The failure of anti-harassment policies can also be attributed to the lack of training and information campaign to strictly implement these policies. It is vital that proactive training programs are conducted in order to forestall potential problems and at the same time to educate employees or workers on sexual harassment. The educational training of employees will lessen future liability and culpability of those who violate the policies. These training programs will initiate positive effect on the workforce since it fosters job satisfaction and job performance. It is imperative for all employees to increase their diversity awareness. Therefore, well-conceived training programs will be able to prevent any sexually harassing behavior of behaviors and prevent potential offensive actions.
In addition, there should be prohibitive laws that should be enacted to address bullying and cyber bullying in the workplace regardless whether or not the motive is discriminatory against members who belong to protected class or not. Sexual harassment is a form of bullying inside the workplace such as the Quid Quo Pro and Hostile Work Environment (HWE). The first type is “Quid Quo Pro” literally means “this or that”. This is the form of sexual harassment that may occur when an employee is exposed to a sexual conduct in exchange for employment, (Meiner, 2008). Under normal circumstances, this form of bullying or harassment is carried out by supervisory employees for their inherent power to select and terminate subordinates (Mallor, Barnes, Bowers, and Langvard, 2008). On the other hand, the second type is the Hostile Work Environment (HWE) where the worker or employee is exposed to sexual and offensive comments repeatedly and has affected the work of the employee. In effect, this form of bullying may also occur in the internet and is considered as discriminatory especially if it affects a protected class or non-protected class. This will entitle the victim to moral damages for the moral shock, mental anguish, wounded feelings and besmirched reputation caused upon the employee. It is recommended that creation of prohibitive laws should intensify the penalty for bullying and cyber bullying inside the work place, irrespective of the motive in order to safeguard employees who fall under protected and non-protected class.
Sexual harassment as intentional tort
Meiners, Ringleb, and Edwards (2009) argued that an employer can be held accountable for the negligent and intentional torts carried out by employees acting within the bounds of their employment. Sexual harassment cases defined under Title IV will fall under the definition of intentional conduct. To qualify as intentional tort, sexual harassment carries the same elements provided under the definition of tort where there is deliberate intent on the part of the defendant. The term “intent” on the part refers to the fact that the defendant is completely aware of the desired result and the probability of the incidence will occur.
Liability of the employer for the injury or harm caused by the employee
The most common type of legal and ethical issue in the work place is sexual harassment that may be experienced by student-trainees or employees. Mallor et al., (2008) stated that there are two types of sexual harassment cases: Quid Quo Pro and Hostile Work Environment. The damage caused by sexual harassment committed inside the work environment can cause a negative impact to the employees who become victims. Sexual harassment in the work environment must be prevented to because it deprives the mental, psychological, emotional and professional growth of the employees.
However, the employer may be relieved from any liability upon presenting evidence that will show that: 1.) It has exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct the sexually harassing conduct of the employee; and 2.) That there was negligence on the part of the plaintiff employee for the unreasonable disregard to take advantage of the preventive measures provided by the anti-sexual harassment policies of employer (Meiners et al., 2009). Furthermore, the concept of vicarious liability refers to the accountability of the employer for actions committed by the immediate superior against a subordinate in hostile environment since such individual is bestowed the mantle of authority over the such employee (Meiners et al., 2009).
Equal opportunities in the work environment fall as civil right under the federal and state laws. Sexual harassment is a case that will fall under employer intentional tort. The sexual harassment of employees is regarded is a form of sexual discrimination because of the unwelcome sexual conduct or pressure that takes place in the work environment. It is in this scenario that an employee is placed in a “locker type” ambience and cannot escape from the situation because of fear. Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all male and female employees can be victims of sexual harassment. Thus, there is no gender discrimination as stated in the law and prohibits all forms of employment discrimination against workers, employees, and union members. The EEOC is the government agency that is tasked to resolve sexual harassment cases on the basis of race, sex, nationality, religious beliefs or gender during employment. The rationale behind the implementation of sexual harassment covers sexually obnoxious behavior that may consist of minor offensive words that may be develop to actual sexual activity committed against an employee. Thus, the effective implementation of sexual harassment policies has become a joint effort between the employer and the employee to prevent such behavior in the work place environment. The employers play a major role by then strictly implementing anti-sexual harassment policies. Preventing sexual harassment incidents on the part of the employer advocates social change by guaranteeing there will be equal work opportunities for employees inside multicultural environments. In effect, multinational organizations should endeavor to prevent unfair and hostile treatment inside the workplace. The best way to protect the rights of employees from discrimination is by educating them. In fact, the government has empowered EEOC to protect the workers against unlawful behavior and has represented the victims during litigation of cases and to recover reparation from the ordeal they experienced.
Wright (2010, p. 89) stated that employers have the responsibility to ensure that their workplaces should not be a breeding ground for sexual harassment cases. Thus, they are duty-bound to impose legally binding positive duties that may be burdensome but will produce worthwhile results by creating preventive mechanisms. At the same time, it will guarantee a safe and conducive working environment for the workers that carry positive results through improved employee well-being and productivity, and lessen incidents of staff turnover rates (Wright, 2010, p. 89). Sexual harassment in the workplace can cause emotional stress that may result to post-traumatic stress disorder (Meiner, 2008). Aside from the damage caused by stress and causing destruction on the personal development of employees, sexual harassment incidents inside the work settings can prevent the success of organizations due to discouragement of the employees. In fact, the stress caused by work environment is the primary cause that has motivated the workers to resign from their jobs and increased absenteeism. Studies have shown that absenteeism is likely to occur among those employees who undergo sexual harassment compared to those who are not placed in a similar situation.
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