Preventing the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

Executive summary

The research is aimed to recognize and providing ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It focused on the cause and effect of sexual harassment at the workplace. The introduction part is the focus on the current scenario of the work environment and practices and its detailed definition is provided for better understanding. And it also focuses on how it affects the work environment and other problems. Recommendations are provided for adopting effective strategies while dealing with workplace sexual harassment. It is found out that it is the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in workplaces or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement, or prosecution of acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.

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Introduction

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of workplace discrimination. It affects employee morale and will results in low productivity, absenteeism, employee turn over so on. Sexual harassment in the workplace is one of the most complicated areas of employment law. Definition of sexual harassment consists of any physical or verbal behavior and any form of communication that has unnecessary, improper, or unwelcome sexual connotations. It is also one of the areas that recently have public attention with the current global economic development; more and more women are entering the workforce. Increasing participation of women in the work environment. Moreover, it is important that the Organization should pay focused attention to this issue, which is so integral part of creating a supportive and productive work environment for both male and female employees. The World over has started framing policies to protect against sexual harassment in Workplace.

Most organizations have their own policy on employee conduct, as well as sexual and other forms of harassment at the workplace. It shall be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in workplaces or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement, or prosecution of acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required. All employers or persons in charge of the workplace whether in the public or private sector should take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment. They would also have some systems/processes in place of whom an employee can contact if he/she faces any harassment. The role of Human resource management is to devise proper policies on such issues and make all employees aware of them. This would give the parties to handle the scenario in a justifiable manner. However, these policies will have to be designed considering civil and criminal law in the country. Further, equal treatment of its employee’s disregard of their positions. Awareness on the part of management is essential for preventing sexual harassment that is the office of general counsel, Administration, and Bureau of Equal Employment Opportunity. Sexual harassment is a violation of state and federal laws. Organizations usually will have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment that includes procedures on how to report harassment.

Definition

In the US, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, has defined “sexual harassment” as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature constitutes illegal sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with en individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

The “victim” may be a man or a woman. The “victim” does not have to be of the opposite sex, nor does the “victim” have to be the person harassed, but someone nearby who was negatively affected by the behavior/ situation.

The “harasser” may be the employee’s supervisor, another member of management, a co-worker, an agent of the employer, a vendor, or any other non-employee.

Sexual Harassment may occur even though there is no economic injury (impact on wages/salary) to or discharge (forced resignation) of the “victim.”

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The “harasser’s” must be informed by the “victim” that the conduct is unwelcome and the harasser should, therefore “cease and desist”. The victim should inform the harasser that if the conduct does not stop, further steps will be taken that are reporting to management.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Definition

EEOC defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature that: explicitly or implicitly are a condition of employment, or are used to make a hiring or other employment decision, or unreasonably interfere with a person’s performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment can be verbal conduct, physical conduct, or both and it generally must be severe and pervasive. There are two types of gender harassment recognized by the courts — quid pro quo and hostile work environment. (Gender Harassment and Sexual Harassment).

According to current issues update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment occurs, “when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” (Heathfield).

Causes and effects of sexual harassment at workplace

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace, “quid-pro-quo” and “hostile environment.”

Hostile work environment

A hostile work environment arises when a co-worker or supervisor, engaging in unwelcome and inappropriate sexually based behavior, renders the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Hostile work environment gender harassment is more difficult to recognize because the same conduct that could be sexual harassment in some circumstances would not be in others. A hostile work environment exists if an employee experiences an intimidating, offensive work setting. The conduct must be based on gender and substantial. A couple of minor, crass comments generally would not be considered sexual harassment. The Hostile Environment is where there is one, there’s often the other. Hostile work environment harassment is not just limited to sexual acts. An employee who constantly picks on his female coworkers but not his male coworkers could be engaging in illegal sexual harassment. Many sexual harassment victims are never threatened with termination or lack of advancement. Rather, they suffer repeated abuse by a hostile work environment, which is an alternative ground for bringing sexual harassment action.

Quid-Pro-Quo Harassment

“Quid-pro-quo” is Latin for “this for that.” It is a trade. When the trade is based on sex, it is illegal. Under the quid pro quo form of harassment, a person in authority, usually a supervisor, demands sexual favors of a subordinate as a condition of getting or keeping a job benefit. This is when the employer makes sex a prerequisite to getting something in the workplace.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue for the management of any organization because it damages employee morale, impacts careers, and negatively affects the bottom line (legal costs and punitive damages). It also creates high absenteeism, low productivity, and employee turnover. (Bowman).

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The Company policy is to totally prohibit any form of sexual harassment in the way employees behave with each other. This would also include complaints relating to instances outside of the workplace. This applies equally to relations between superiors and subordinates as well as between peers. Any incident of sexual harassment will be viewed as extremely serious. A complaint or report of sexual harassment will be immediately investigated and appropriate action will be taken against the offending employee or employees. Such action will depend on the nature and seriousness of the offense and will include strict disciplinary action including termination of service.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take the steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. (Sexual Harassment).

Adopting Sexual Harassment Policy will be worth handling these issues. An effective anti-harassment policy should be adopted. Policies and procedures should be adopted after consultation or negotiation with employee representatives. It is better than a strategy to create and maintain a working environment in which the dignity of employees is respected is most likely to be effective where they are jointly agreed.

A great way to prevent sexual harassment is to make every employee go through sexual harassment training. (Aranda).

Conclusion

Sexual harassment is existing in the Organization in many ways. Rarely it is known to the public because of unawareness, fear, and quitting of jobs itself. Many of the workers are unaware of the rules and procedures to adopt against sexual harassment. Therefore, the management of the organizations should take of developing a well-defined policy to fight against sexual harassment. It is the duty of the management to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for achieving the companies’ target. It is important to enforce the policy adopted against sexual harassment and clear-cut procedures for overcoming this kind of violence. Every person has the right to dignity and honor. It is an inviolable right. Anything that is done to infringe this right should be frowned upon and fought fearlessly. Stopping sexual harassment will lead to the acceptance of gender equality at the workplace.

Recommendations

It is important to provide a clear statement that anyone found guilty of harassment after investigation will be subject to immediate and appropriate disciplinary action and a clear explanation of penalties including termination must impose for substantiated sexual harassment conduct. The manager does not make insulting or offensive remarks. If a manager’s comments or jokes offend someone else, it can be seen as harassing. Management does not make sexual advances to another co-worker, person, or associate with who works. The manager does not show favoritism on performance evaluations or in other actions based on personal relationships. Employees should be allowed to raise issues of sexual harassment at a workers’ meeting and in other appropriate forums and it should be affirmatively discussed in Employer-Employee Meetings. Where sexual harassment occurs because of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, the employer and person in charge must take all steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action. Complaint mechanism should ensure time-bound treatment of complaints. Any employee who engages in or knowingly condones sexual harassment shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Preventives Measures

Communication

The CEO should issue a written policy against sexual harassment, and discrimination in general. Provide a clear definition of sexual harassment using examples of inappropriate behavior. Review the Policy with all employees at inception and at least yearly thereafter. Document presentations. Include as part of Orientation of new employees and have they acknowledged by signature that they have been provided a copy of the Policy and have read and understand it.

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Establish procedures

Appoint a Senior Corporate Officer to oversee implementation of the Policy. Designate a Personnel Officer or other appropriate Manager to receive sexual harassment. Outline procedures to be used to report any sexual harassment/ discrimination, including alternative routes for filing allegations/complaints. Keep all sexual harassment/discrimination allegations/complaints confidential. Train supervisors and managers to recognize and prevent sexual harassment/ discrimination.

Enforce Policy

Encourage employees to report any incidents of sexual harassment. Investigate all allegations of sexual harassment, while safeguarding the rights of the accused.

Maintain accurate records of the investigation, discovery of facts and evidence, statements of witnesses, and findings. Where sexual harassment is found, take immediate, appropriate action against any employee or non-employee found to have engaged in sexual harassment.

Further, they should express prohibition of sexual harassment as defined at the workplace should be notified, published, and circulated inappropriate ways. The Rules/Regulations of Government and Public Sector bodies relating to conduct and discipline should include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender. Report harassing behavior immediately to avoid further consequences. Appropriate work conditions should be provided in respect of work, leisure, health, and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at workplaces and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.

Work Cited

Aranda, Natalie. How to Recognize and Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Ezine articles. 2000.  Web.

Bowman, Dave. The Problem of Sexual Harassment. TTG Consultants.  Web.

Gender Harassment and Sexual Harassment. HRhero.com. 2008.  Web.

Heathfield, Susan M. Sexual Harassment: Harassment and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. About.com. 2008.  Web.

Sexual Harassment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2008.  Web.

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