Sexual harassment

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Template:Abuse Sexual harassment is harassment of a sexual nature, typically in the workplace or other setting where raising objections or refusing may have negative consequences. In American employment law, it is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job, having the effect of making the workplace intimidating, hostile or s. Sexual harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination and a mild form of sexual and psychological abuse. However, psychologists and social workers report that severe and/or chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects on victims as rape or sexual assault. Backlash and retaliation for complaining about the harassment can further aggravate the effects. Indeed, in 1995, Judith Coflin committed suicide after chronic sexual harassment by her bosses and coworkers. (Her family was later awarded 6 million dollars in damages.)

The definition of the phrase Sexual Harassment can be broad and controversial, depending on each individual's opinion of what harassment is, and misunderstandings can abound. The term was coined in 1974 at Cornell University. While typical sexual harassment behaviour usually includes unwanted touching of a co-worker's private parts, lewd comments, talk about gender superiority, sexual jokes, demands for sexual favors, etc., some companies have reported that they have had to fire employees (after a co-worker has complained of sexual harassment) for such actions as telling the complaining co-worker how good he or she looks for that co-worker's date with another person, or for simply handing what seemed, to the fired employee, to be just a harmless compliment. Street harasment is generally considered another form of sexual harassment.


[edit] Instances

Sexual harassment can occur in a number of ways, such as:

  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a schoolmate, or a stranger.
  • The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it.
  • While adverse effects on the victim are common, this does not have to be the case for the behavior to be unlawful.
  • The victim can be male or female. The harasser can be male or female.
  • The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser's behavior must be unwelcome.
  • The harasser may be completely unaware that their behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment, or they may be completely unaware that their actions could be unlawful.

(Adapted from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

[edit] Definitions

Two specific legal definitions of sexual harassment have been defined:

The concept of sexual harassment has both colloquial and legal meanings. Many more people have experienced sexual harassment than have a solid legal case against the accused. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending its managerial employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has pointed out that sexual harassment in the workplace is not a freestanding tort, but is only, in its legal sense, a subcategory of employment discrimination. Similar definitions have been established for academic environments, with a similar burden of proof (as described below).

[edit] Prima facie case for sexual harassment

To establish a prima facie case for sexual harassment, you must show that there were unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: [1]

1. Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment,

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

[edit] Prima facie case for sexual harassment, hostile environment

To establish a prima facie case for hostile work environment sexual harassment, the alleged victim must prove:

1. He or she suffered intentional discrimination because of his/her sex.

2. The discrimination was pervasive and severe.

3. The discrimination detrimentally affected him or her.

4. The discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same sex.

5. Management knew about the harassment, or should have known, and did nothing to stop it.

Pervasiveness and severity of the conduct have an inverse relationship to each other. For example, a single act may be considered sexual harassment if it is very severe (touching sexual areas of a person's body). Less severe conduct, such as crude language, romantic invitations, or extended glares, can still be sexual harrassment if it happens several times or regularly.

[edit] Prima facie for retaliation

Retaliation against a complainant is, unfortunately, common. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labeled troublemakers, and risk hostility and isolation from colleagues, supervisors, teachers, or fellow students. They risk being given negative evaluations or low grades, having their projects sabotaged, being denied opportunities, and other actions against them which undermine their ability to do their work or advance at work or school. As in cases of rape or sexual assault, the "victim" often becomes the "accused," with their appearance, private life, and character likely to fall under intrusive scrutiny and attack. Women are not necessarily sympathetic to female targets of sexual harassment; internalized sexism, along with jealousy over the sexual attention towards the victim, often encourage women to react with as much hostility towards the complainant as male colleagues. One woman reports, "Facing up to the crime and having to deal with it in public is probably worse than suffering in silence. I found it to be a lot worse than the harassment itself."

Retaliation for complaining or filing a grievance is as illegal as the harassment itself, but also as difficult to prove.

To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, a person must show by a preponderance of evidence that

1. The person engaged in a protected activity known to the employer.

2. The employer thereafter subjected the complaining party to an adverse decision.

3. There was a causal link between the protected activity and adverse employment decision.

Protected activities usually encompass making discrimination and harassment activities known to management, participating in Managing Diversity programs, assisting another employee with a discrimination complaint and other similar activities.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

fr:Harcèlement sexuel he:הטרדה מינית ja:セクシャルハラスメント zh:性骚扰

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