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Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace

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Frank has crossed the line with his sexual remarks to Mary and is trying to bully Mary into going out with him or he will cause her trouble at work. Mary does the right thing by going to Human Resources and reporting the incident to them. Mary needs to pursue this matter so it does not happen again.

Frank and Mary are in the break room and they are talking about the account that she landed after a lot of hard work and lunch meetings with the client to get him to sign on with them. Frank is making remarks that Mary and Mr. Miller were doing more than just having lunch. Frank makes a remark that he bet Mr. Miller enjoyed the dessert. Mary is puzzled by the remarks that Frank is making about the meetings. Mary says she worked very hard to land the account. Frank tells Mary that he has to sign off on her expense account and suggests that they have dinner and discuss it. Mary says that it would be better if she met him at the office tomorrow and tells him that she has an opening at 10 am. Frank reply’s that it is in her best interest to meet him tonight for dinner. You might get in trouble with your expense account if you don’t. Mary files a report with the human resources department against Frank for his sexual actions toward her. Mary needs to pursue the matter and find out what legal rights she has against Frank.

He has done this before to other women in the office and needs to be stopped. Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.[1] In most modern legal contexts, sexual harassment is illegal. As defined by the US EEOC, “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. Where laws surrounding sexual harassment exist, they typically don’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or minor isolated incidents. In the workplace, harassment may be considered 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, or when the victim decides to quit the job). 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.[2]

It includes a range of behavior from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or sexual assault.[3] Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. For many businesses and other organizations, preventing sexual harassment, and defending employees from sexual harassment charges, has become key goals of legal decision-making. In 1973 in “Saturn’s Rings”, a report authored by Mary Rowe to the then President and Chancellor of MIT about various forms of gender issues[4] Rowe has stated that she believes she was not the first to use the term, since sexual harassment was being discussed in women’s groups in Massachusetts in the early 1970s, but that MIT may have been the first or one of the first large organizations to discuss the topic (in the MIT Academic Council), and to develop relevant policies and procedures. MIT at the time also recognized the injuries caused by racial harassment and the harassment of women of color which may be both racial and sexual. The President of MIT also stated that harassment (and favoritism) is antithetical to the mission of a university as well as intolerable for individuals.

In the book In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (1999), journalist Susan Brown Miller quotes the Cornell activists who in 1975 thought they had coined the term sexual harassment: “Eight of us were sitting in an office … brainstorming about what we were going to write on posters for our speak-out. We were referring to it as ‘sexual intimidation,’ ‘sexual coercion,’ ‘sexual exploitation on the job.’ None of those names seemed quite right. We wanted something that embraced a whole range of subtle and un-subtle persistent behaviors. Somebody came up with ‘harassment.’ ‘Sexual harassment!’ Instantly we agreed. That’s what it was.”[5] These activists, Lin Farley, Susan Meyer, and Karen Sauvigne went on to form Working Women’s Institute which, along with the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion, founded in 1976 by Freada Klein, Lynn Wehrli, and Elizabeth Cohn-Stuntz, were among the pioneer organizations to bring sexual harassment to public attention in the late 1970s. Still the term was largely unknown until the early 1990s when Anita Hill witnessed and testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.[6]

Since Hill testified in 1991, the number of sexual harassment cases reported in US and Canada increased 58 percent and have climbed steadily ever since.[6] You can file a sexual harassment complaint against your employer if you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace by first filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In federal courts, sexual harassment suits are decided on an individual basis determined by documented facts. Record every time, date and place that the incidents occurred, if there were any witnesses or if anyone else has been harassed. Contact your human resource department in writing to find out your specific grievance procedure at work.

Involve your union if you have one; they will assign you a shop steward or other acceptable representation. If this is very uncomfortable for you to continue working there you need to seek the advice of the Labor Board and ask what they suggest. Businesses have to post a bulletin about sexual harassment in the work place where every employee can read it. There should be a memo sent around regarding inappropriate behavior in the work place and made clear that it will not be tolerated and what the consequences will be if it happens. When hiring new employees it is always made clear in writing and verbally that misconduct of any kind will not be tolerated.


Boland, Mary L. Sexual Harassment: You’re Guide to Legal Action. Naperville, Illinois: Sphinx Publishing, 2002. ISBN 978-1-57248-217-3.

Federal Laws Regarding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6149304_federal-regarding-sexual-harassment workplace.html#ixzz2JBUemWXh


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