Sexual harassment at the work place occurs when someone engages in an unwelcome behavior on gender basis that affects someone’s work. It is defined by the equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) as the unwelcome sexual advances, requests to for sexual favors and the verbal or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature. This happens when: Someone submits themselves to the conduct either implicitly or explicitly. It may be a term or set condition for someone to be employed; the conduct is used as a basis for employment decision targeting the victims; the conduct is aimed at unreasonably affecting the individuals’ performance at work or creating an offensive, hostile or intimidating working environment.
An environment will be classified as sexually hostile only if the following conditions are satisfied. Firstly, the behavior must be subjectively abusive to the affected person and secondly the behavior must be intentionally brutal or persuasive to create an environment that any reasonable person will realize it is abuse. To determine whether in fact the behavior is severe or persuasive enough as to create a hostile environment, the fact finder will have the following to consider the following: The occurrences of the unwelcome and discriminatory behavior; how severe the situation is; Whether the occurrence was humiliating or causing physical threat or whether it was a mere offensive utterance; Analysis of whether the conduct was unreasonably interfering with the work performance; The alleged effect on the employee’s psychological well being; The position of the culprit in the organization.
There is no single factor required to establish sexual harassment. There should me more than reasonable doubt that there was intention to molest sexually. One incidence where a woman’s supervisor asked her out for a date, placed his hand on her shoulder, placed notes written “I love one” on her working area and made an attempt to kiss her. There was no evidence of any legal violation. A hostile environment sexual harassment will also not be found where women are asked for dates by co-workers for at least three offensive incidences over a time period of 18 months or even where someone is subjected to occasional teasing or even crude jokes or sexual remarks. However in the case where a woman was touched in a sexually offensive manner in a confined workplace, was again subjected to long patterns of ridicule and abuse in the terms of gender or even forced into unwelcome sexual advances, then this amounted to sexual harassment.
The stated examples show how serious sexual offences should be in order for them to be considered legally actionable. In the presence of such, employers will be careful enough to address the issue of unwelcome conduct a good far off distance from the possibility of creating a hostile environment that will possibly cause a basis for legal suit.
Out rightly hostile environments are hard to determine. The facts of each prevailing situation determine whether the offensive conduct has gone beyond tolerance to the unlawful gender discrimination. Some of the courts ascertain that men have a different level of sensitivity from the female counterparts. The behavior that may not offend a reasonable man may be the cause of a legal suit for the women. In one of the studies that were conducted, it was found that, while 15% of the men could feel insulted by a sexual approach in the work place two thirds of the men surveyed said they would only be flattered by such an occurrence. The women who were interviewed on the same matter gave a totally different response to that. This different level of sensitivity has made the judges to adopt different levels of judgment for these cases of sexual harassment. Under these standards, a reasonable woman would actually feel harassed even a reasonable man on the other hand may not see the whole matter that way.
Since these legal boundaries are not marked with standard, the best thing to do will be to avoid any sexual charges in the work place. One may know that their behavior is offensive to the co-worker and hence avoid any close crash with them. This is quite important to avoiding such legal suits. Where individuals are in doubt about their character that could cause sexual harassment, it is then important to ask oneself the following questions: Is it the verbal or the physical behavior of sexual nature?; Is my conduct offensive to the people around me?; Is the behavior being initiated by only one party who is stronger than the other?; Does the employee have to coup with such behavior in order to maintain their job?; Does this conduct make the job of the employee unpleasant?
The unwelcome conduct can be termed as sexual harassment being addressed. Dating, jokes that are sexual and touching the counterpart may not be considered as sexual harassment if such behavior is entertained by the people involved. Any conduct directed towards someone may be considered unwelcome if it was not initiated by the recipient and they regard it as offensive. Some sexual advances are blatant and crude that the way they are addressed portrays that the request is not at all welcome. In more typical cases however the reaction of the recipient would be the only key to determine whether the request is welcome (Buhler, 1999).
A clear case would be when the employee openly reacts to a potential harasser by telling them that their conduct is not welcome and makes the employer feel uncomfortable with the fearless blame. Another approach to tackle the issue would be to persistently reject to engage in the unwelcome behavior. A woman who refuses to date another would have done enough to make her response clear and hence disorient the harasser.
When an offended employee fails to respond clearly, a problem definitely occurs. Sometimes our politeness, fears or indecisions will sometimes make us not to show our true feelings known. A woman employee when asked out for dinner may fail to say ‘no way’ but instead say “not today, I have some prior commitments”. The invitation is not actually offensive but the problem is whether the response was actually a welcome statement.
Continued sexual relationships among the employees will make it difficult to ascertain whether there this conduct is welcome. The employees have the right to deny or to put an end to such relationship without fear of retaliation from fear in the work place. This means that a conduct that was once welcome has now become unwelcome. Due to the previous behavior however, it is important to make it very clear that one have no intention to continue with the relationship (Egler, 1995).
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