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Harassment at Bradmore Electric

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Introduction
In this case study it is very clear that a problem has occurred between Keith, a manager and his new hire Maura. In this situation, Keith has made advances toward Maura using his position and the fact that he provided a job for Maura as leverage. After an initial acceptance of Maura for one event, the invitations became consistent and persistent.

Keith’s emotions and fantasy’s became more elaborate and were shared with other employees in Keith’s circle. This information was disclosed to the Vice President not only by Keith’s colleague but by Maura as well. The main question comes in what the Vice President should do. In the case study, he decides not to take action, and wait until the offences become worse. He chooses not to address the issue. This is clearly the wrong choice. Analysis

As we look at the case study there are three things that are clearly wrong and should not happen. The first is Keith’s initial process in asking out Maura. The second is the way Keith persisted in continually asking her out to overnight activities. The third issue falls in the court of the Vice President and his lack of action in how it relates to the information he is provided.

As we look at Keith’s initial action of asking Maura out, which in itself is not wrong. The issue comes in when Keith does not take “no” for an answer. He becomes completely unaware of the cues being presented to him by Maura. This becomes very dangerous for any manager in any situation. And in a situation such as this it becomes even more dangerous because it can create a hostile work environment. She clearly has stated from the beginning that she was uncomfortable, and yet he used his position as leverage to get the answer he wanted.

Secondly, Keith continues to push for additional outings with Maura. Now he is pushing for overnight dates, which implies a more intimate situation, which makes the situation even more uncomfortable for Maura. Not only does she deny his advances, she clearly changes her interaction with him, and speaks to his superior about her feelings. Unfortunately, Keith, again, does not see these signs and continues to push for his desires. He shares with others his desires, and places Maura in a objectified position.

The third issue that digs the hole even deeper is the Vice President’s reaction, or lack there of, to this situation. The hostile work environment has been brought up to him by Maura, who is the direct recipient, and by one of Keith’s fellow managers. It is very wise, no matter if there is a policy in place or not, to address any issues in an office environment as quickly as possible. The Vice President clearly does not do this. He decides that the situation is not sever enough to “stick”. The problem with his thinking is that it is only once sided. He thinks that it will not “stick” as is relates to Keith. He is not thinking about how it would “stick” as it relates to the company and his actions, or lack there of. Solution

The clear solution in this situation is to address the problem right away. This provides a few solutions. First of all it addresses the concerns of Maura. With her feeling that this has created a hostile work environment, she needs to feel comfortable, and know that she is important, and her well being is important to the company. When nothing is said, it implies the opposite of what needs to be done.

In addition, this also addresses the clear misunderstanding of Keith and what he deems appropriate. It is clear that Keith feels his actions are justified, and do not require action. If his superior addresses this directly and swiftly with Keith, it sets clear expectations, and consequences for all parties involved. It helps cover the company from liability, it provides solutions, and sets clear guidelines for future situations. Justification (200 words)

Sexual harassment is such a fine line to walk. According to the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is defined as, “ It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.” With this definition, one can see how even slight comments can be misconstrued, and defined as sexual harassment. With this stated I feel it is clear that this situation would be considered sexual harassment and should have been dealt with quickly and concisely.

Summary
In summary, it seems very clear the missteps in this situation. Keith should have been more aware of Maura’s feelings toward him, and spending time with him outside of work. Keith should not have kept pushing on additional outings, and should never had shared his fantasies with his co workers. Lastly, the Vice President needed to take any concern from an employee seriously. His desire to “wait” to create a more severe environment to be able to justify the sexual harassment argument was not only naive, but dangerous to the company as well.

Case Questions
Question 1.
Yes, Keith’s actions are a clear case of sexual harassment. Based on the definition provided by the USEEOC, Keith has created an environment of “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”. This is a very clear case. United States Equal Opportunity Commission ()

Question 2.
It is completely not justifiable for Mr. Singh to adopt the position of nonintervention. It places the company at risk, it implies a lack of protection for his employees. He definitely should speak with Keith at his earliest convenience. It is clear that Keith is unaware of how sexual harassment is defined, or he does not care and feels it does not apply in this situation. This needs to be made clear to him, and his actions need to be addressed immediately. If I were in the position of Mr. Singh, I would have a direct meeting with Keith, as well as Maura. I would do it separately, and make sure both understand the course of action, and set clear expectations for how the work environment will be going forward. I would also set clear expectations and consequences is this were to happen again.

Question 3.
Just because Maura agreed one time to go out with Keith, does not set any precedence for any future outings. She made it clear in the first place that she did not feel comfortable with the first date, so I would think that statement would set the precedence, and make her feelings clear. Even if Keith thought this would create an environment for future dates, she again made her feelings clear to him, and again he chose not to adhere to her feelings and disregarded her thoughts about the situation.

References

Arnold, Denis G., Beauchamp, Tom L., & Bowie, Norman E. (2013). Ethical Theory and Business (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Gorman, Carol Kinsey (2009, May 26). Men and Women and Workplace Communication. Retrieved from http://http://www.batimes.com/articles/men-and-women-and-workplace-communicat

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