Review the Sexual Harassment tutorial, which is found in the lecture above. After viewing the Sexual Harassment tutorial, completing the reading, and reviewing the lecture notes in conjunction with the TCO, answer the following questions about the tutorial scenario and facts.
- Based upon the scenario, does the employee have a legally viable claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment and/or hostile environment sexual harassment? What is the likely outcome?
- Analyze the legal factors for the potential claim(s) in the context of the employee pursuing legal action against the employer.
- Let’s shift gears. Using the same scenario, assume that you are in the HR Department of your organization, and that you were just presented with the scenario as an example used to explore policies and procedures that will avoid sexual harassment liability. Your boss has asked you to make preliminary suggestions (which will be presented to the legal counsel) regarding sexual harassment protocol that will avoid potential liability. What would your top five suggestions be and why?
- Your assignment should be between 500-750 words in length. You must also properly cite your sources using APA format.
Scope and Application of Civil Rights Laws (graded)
Sexual Harassment and the Law (graded)
Q & A Forum for your questions and comments (not graded)
Prior to the 1960s, most women were not regular participants in the workforce, especially not at the levels that they are participating at today. When women began to enter the workforce, there were challenges. Since women had traditionally worked only in domestic roles, initially, they were not well accepted into the work environment by their male colleagues.
In the early years of gender discrimination, the perception was that women might not be capable of handling the complex commands of a work environment. Making assumptions based on someone else’s perceptions can produce discrimination. Early gender discrimination may begin with comments like, “She can’t do that. That’s a man’s work.” Such remarks are unfair to employees and can be detrimental to a work environment.
As a human resources manager, you will want to do your part to ensure a discrimination-free workplace, and you should consider ways to protect your organization from discrimination and claims. Many companies offer training, which can be beneficial to offer once per year, as it helps to demonstrate a positive attempt by the company to deliver a harassment-free workplace. Human resource managers should focus on a preventative approach by addressing issues that may result in a discrimination claim if not dealt with early on. Many times, the issues that are brought up are not likely to be seen as significant if addressed early. However, if they are left to develop, they can cause significant damage to an individual and a company.
Equal Pay Act
Back to Top
Discrimination that affects an employee’s compensation can be especially detrimental. Although the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination, the Equal Pay Act protects individuals from being paid differently because of their gender. The original concept wasequal pay for equal work, but this is difficult to determine.
The Equal Pay Act typically looks at wages for similarly situated individuals to determine if pay is being fairly determined (comparable worth). A company can decide to pay employees whatever it wants, but if wages are based upon the employee’s gender, it is illegal. A company can determine pay for a number of reasons, such as seniority and performance, some of which provide an easier defense against discrimination.
Mary comes to the Human Resources Department stating that she believes her rate of pay is lower than men doing the same job. She has heard from the men in the department what they are getting paid and she has determined that they are all earning $7 – $10 more per hour than she is currently. Mary indicates that if you do not correct her rate of pay to equal that of the men in her department, that she is going to the Department of Labor to file a complaint. Mary reminds you that she is a strong performer and there is a pay for performance philosophy at your place of employment. After investigating further, you find that Mary is correct about earning less than the others earn. What would you do to determine if there is an Equal Pay issue?
In addition to the Equal Pay Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 extends the provisions of the Civil Rights Act to allow for further review of a claim of discrimination. This ability provides an additional timeframe of six months from each act of discrimination rather than looking at the first act as setting the discrimination statute of limitations. It gives the law more power for protection against pay discrimination.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Back to Top
As women entered the workforce, additional concern was voiced about women and their commitment to work. Companies also questioned if women would be able to work and raise a family. This can still be seen as an issue today.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects women against discrimination on the basis that they may choose to have a child. In addition, the act makes it illegal to refuse to hire women because they are pregnant. This helps make the workplace a more fair environment. When hiring, having human resources involved in the process can be helpful. Doing so can help address the issue of a woman not being hired because she is pregnant. How often do you feel that this scenario is an issue today? Do you think that the state of the economy and the demand for jobs could impact this topic?
One thing to note with this law is that it protects women from adverse employment actions due to their pregnancies. However, it does not prohibit actions of employment even though an individual is pregnant. An individual can still be disciplined based upon other actions not related to the pregnancy. The key here is to treat everyone equally.
Back to Top
Sexual harassment is one of the most difficult items to address in the workplace. Individuals who are being harassed are reluctant to come forward due to fear of retaliation or that others in the workplace may look negatively upon them. This type of retaliation is illegal. However, since the individual is under so much stress from the harassment, even guaranteed protection from retaliation offers little comfort. Sexual harassment comes in two forms: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo translates to this for that and generally means that the harasser in these situations is promising a benefit or threatening someone’s position if he or she does not perform certain sexual functions. The harasser may threaten an individual’s job unless the person agrees to date him or her outside of work hours. On the other hand, the harasser could promise the person that he or she will be promoted if sexual favors are performed. This is illegal, but it is also a very difficult situation to investigate.
The more common form of sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is a difficult scenario because it is often considered part of the workplace culture. If this is the case, an individual who complains may be subject to additional harassment even though it is illegal. As a human resources manager, look for signs and situations that may create a hostile work environment. Signs can include pictures of women dressed in immodest clothing, flirting, or making jokes or comments that are sexual in nature. These should be addressed quickly to prevent potential claims. A company should conduct regular training to prevent harassment.
It is often the human resources professionalâ€™s job to investigate a sexual harassment complaint. When looking into this type of situation, the HR professional should be objective and non-accusatory. The HR professional should explain the requirement to report complaints, based on the companyâ€™s sexual harassment policy and legal regulations. HR should follow the appropriate policies, which could include investigating the complaint by speaking with the accused and any witnesses to identify the next steps in the process.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the tutorial on sexual harassment.
Back to Top
Gender discrimination and sexual harassment still occur in the workplace. It can be difficult to detect and address based on the different scenarios that can arise. A company should be proactive and ensure that internal processes help minimize the likelihood.
Now, let’s move to our Civil Rights Laws and Sexual Harassment. See you in the discussion!