Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality

By Raymond F. Gregory | Go to book overview

Fourteen
Other Forms of Sexual
Harassment

In the last two chapters we reviewed quid pro quo cases, in which submission to unwelcome sexual conduct was made a condition of a woman's employment, and hostile-environment cases, in which unwelcome sexual conduct interfered with a woman's job performance by creating a hostile or offensive working environment. Here, we go a step further to look at ways these types of sexual harassment can manifest differently in the workplace.


Favoritism or Preferential Treatment

Suppose a supervisor engages in a sexual relationship with a subordinate female worker and favors her by arranging for preferential treatment in the form of salary increases and promotions. May other female subordinates, denied similar raises and promotions, validly claim they have been subjected to acts of sexual harassment in violation of Title VII? The answer is no in some circumstances, yes in others.

A supervisor's isolated acts of preferential treatment in favor of an employee with whom he has a consensual sexual relationship may disadvantage other female workers, but it disadvantages men working under his supervision as well. A female employee denied an employment benefit as a consequence of such favoritism is not treated less favorably because she is a woman. Since women in these circumstances are treated as well or as badly as their male co-workers, the supervisor's conduct, though notably unfair, cannot be said to be discriminatory. Thus, female workers may not validly assert a claim of sexual harassment in this type of setting.

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