The purpose of this case is to present a dilemma regarding the actions that should be taken in response to incidences of sexual harassment at Laocoon Aeronautics Corporation. Averil Hughes, a high-ranking and well-respected director on the executive leadership team at Laocoon, is offended by the sexual propositions and innuendos made to her by her direct supervisor, William Prewett. Her boss's behavior not only incites an array of negative emotions within her, but she believes that by not appeasing Prewett's sexual advances her job performance and future at the company could be compromised. Averil eventually reports the harassment to William's direct supervisor, Tony Zi. The case concludes with Tony contemplating how he should handle this complicated and delicate situation.
This cutting-edge, dilemma case examines sexual harassment from the lens of a female executive in the gender-biased, U.S. defense industry. The uniqueness of this case is that while more females are moving into male-dominated organizations in this industry, very few cases have examined sexual harassment within these organizations. The majority of the case focuses on Averil Hughes' meteoric rise from employee to the executive ranks within Laocoon Aeronautics Corporation and chronicles events that led to her filing a sexual harassment claim against her boss and Vice-President of Military Aerospace and Electronic Systems, William Prewett. In addition, the case provides a broad overview of the U.S Defense Industry and detailed insight into the organizational culture at Laocoon Aeronautics Corporation. The case concludes with Averil reporting the sexual harassment claim to William's boss, Tony Zi, the Executive Vice-President of Business Development and Operations. Tony Zi is faced with a difficult decision- how to legally manage a sexual harassment claim that involves his best friend, William Prewett, and one of his star hires, Averil Hughes.
Intended Audience and Case Objectives
This case is most appropriate for use in the human resource management (HR) course at the undergraduate or graduate level. The teaching objectives of this case are to:
* Introduce students to U.S. legal standards on sexual harassment and the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and
* Understand the role of organizational culture and how culture can communicate tolerance of sexual harassment.
HYPOTHETICAL TEACHING PLAN
Sexual Harassment Lecture
Before using this case for classroom discussion, the instructor should provide a lecture on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and explicitly focus on the content and meaning of Title VII in relation to sexual harassment. In addition, the instructor should explain the importance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and how the EEOC issues guidelines on the prevention of sexual harassment. Further, the instructor may briefly explain how to determine sexual harassment liability. In order to provide more detailed information on EEOC guidelines and determination of sexual harassment liability, the instructor is referred to Appendixes 1, 2, and 3 in the case.
To complement student's understanding of sexual harassment law, the instructor should discuss several important sexual harassment cases. For example, a landmark case includes Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson in which the Supreme Court determined that sexual harassment was a form of gender discrimination in employment and was a direct violation of Title VII. In addition, an interesting sexual harassment case to discuss in class is Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite, as this hostile work environment case was the first sexual harassment case to be certified as a class action lawsuit. To clearly illustrate this case, the instructor could also use the movie North Country as a supplemental instructional tool. …