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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essay on Sexual Harassment

The EEOC defines Sexual Harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: a) submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as condition of an individual’s employment, or b) submission to or rejection of the conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or c) the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

One of the common misconceptions about sexual harassment is that employers are protected against liability so long the supervisors or managers avoid making sexual advances against an unwilling subordinate.  This is a misconception.  Nowadays, the scope of sexual harassment has been expanded by law and by the Supreme Court so as to include lawsuits by subordinates who willingly submitted to the sexual advances of his or her superior. (Philip M. Perry 3)  Nowadays, giving of jokes loaded with sexual meaning is already considered sexual harassment.  Office flirtations or sexually suggestive stare by a co-worker against another co-worker are also considered sexual harassment (Philip M. Perry 3). 

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In view of the potential suits for damages, it is always important for employers to be updated on existing laws and Supreme Court decisions on sexual harassment.  Most importantly, the employer must have a clear and definite policy against sexual harassment in the workplace.  The employer should also be able to communicate this policy to all the employees by incorporating the same in the employee manual.  It bears stressing that the Supreme Court has in a number of cases affirmed that it does not suffice that the company has a written, comprehensive and detailed sexual harassment policy but it must also be communicated and explained to all employees.

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