Sexual Harassment: A Growing Workplace Dilemma

By Losey, Michael R. | USA TODAY, March 1995 | Go to article overview

Sexual Harassment: A Growing Workplace Dilemma


Losey, Michael R., USA TODAY


THE LAW prohibiting sexual harassment is nothing new. Such behavior has been forbidden since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it was not until 1991--when Anita Hill alleged harassment by a Supreme Court nominee--that public attention really focused on what constitutes sexually harassing behavior. As a result, awareness may be at an all-time high, but so is confusion about what this means in the workplace. Despite numerous well-meaning efforts by employers, sexual harassment litigation continues to skyrocket.

According to a 1994 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, the human resource professionals who indicated that their departments handled one or more sexual harassment reports rose from 35.2% to 65.1% over the past three years. What makes such complaints even more significant is that many of these incidents are ending up in court. Businesses, with the biggest pocketbooks, are getting hit with the heaviest fines and penalties. In the end, such unnecessary costs put everyone at risk, including management, employees, and shareholders.

A study by the Center for Women in Government at the State University of New York at Albany found that the total monetary benefits awarded in sexual harassment cases handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doubled from 1992 to 1993. Jurors awarded 1,546 employees $25,200,000 in monetary benefits from their employers to cover back pay, remedial relief, damages, promotions lost, and reinstatements. Growth has been steady since 1991, when public pressure was responsible for changes in the Civil Rights Act to allow for jury, compensatory, and punitive damages. Such cost estimates don't include out-of-court settlements or the time management and workers spend in court or the money spent on attorney and legal fees-often equal to or greater than award costs.

In an attempt to keep sexual harassment claims in check, nearly 97% of the respondents to SHRM's sexual harassment survey said their organizations have written policies defining and prohibiting sexual harassment and a procedure for handling such complaints. Nevertheless, perceptual problems still linger about what constitutes sexual harassment, making application of these policies difficult.

Even human resource professionals--the ones in charge of defining their corporate cultures--have differing opinions about the seriousness of this issue. Slightly more than 60% cited sexual harassment as a "real problem," compared to 30.5% who maintained that it is a "perceived problem." About 70% of women and 60% of men viewed it as a real problem.

Not everyone is convinced that the issue is serious or is sure how best to deal with the challenge. According to one survey respondent, "Sexual harassment is so much a part of some organizations and we are so conditioned to accept it that the real impact on organizations is still not apparent."

Obviously, there continues to be a need for education and training in workplaces about sexual harassment. An even tougher battle lies ahead to change the culture or the mind-set of organizations and society at large.

Defining the issue

"That dress/shirt looks really nice on you," one employee says to another. If uttered in the wrong way, to the wrong person, at the wrong time, such a simple statement can lead to a flood of sexual harassment complaints and potential legal battles for the employees and employers involved.

The legal prohibition against sexual harassment derives from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, such harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical acts of a sexual or sex-based nature where submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or an employment decision. In these cases, certain behavior is expected in exchange for a monetary gain or career advancement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sexual Harassment: A Growing Workplace Dilemma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.