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Over the years, many people have believed that the issue of sexual

harassment should not be discussed in public. Sexual harassment was to be

discussed behind closed doors. In spite of this, the social and political

systems have changed instantaneously. This social problem has affected men

and women throughout time, however, it seems that the women of our society

more closely look at this issue. This social topic has encouraged women to

establish organizations in order to help them discuss the issues more openly

and to demand equality including fairness and justice throughout the

workplace and in their social lives as well.

In recent years, sexual harassment has been one of the most serious and

widespread problems found in the workplace. For this reason, the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed, by the United Nations in 1948, to

help everyone in their fight for self-respect and dignity. Indeed sexual

harassment is an issue that complicates employment decisions. People also

recognize that it is an issue involving the creation of an antagonistic or

offensive work environment. In many instances, the issue of sexual

harassment is not something minor that can be easily solved.

The issue of sexual harassment pertains to everyone’s apprehension of an

individual’s comportment due to our societal social norms. Sexual

harassment, in most cases, involves a superior’s behavior towards a

subordinate. As mentioned before, most forms of sexual harassment occur in

the workplace. An employee can charge an employer with sexual harassment as a

result of the misconduct of managers, fellow employees, vendors, and even

customers. Eventually, this can cause a hostile work environment.


It is true, for the most part, that sexual harassment comes in many

forms in the workplace. There are two significant ways in which one can

identify sexual harassment. They are called the “Quid Pro Quo” and the

“Hostile Environment Harassment.” The essence of the Quid Pro Quo theory of

sexual harassment occurs when an employee is confronted with sexual demands

to keep her job or obtain a promotion. This is a true violation of the Civil

Rights Act of 1964, which is also referred to as the Title VII Act. Even

though sexual harassment by its very nature is complicated to define, the

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides a general description of

sexual advances. The several basic varieties of the Quid Pro Quo harassment

indicate the unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors. It

also consist of other verbal or physical conducts dealing with a sexual

nature of constituting sexual harassment when the submission to such conduct

is made either explicitly or implicitly just because a term or a condition of

an individual’s employment. Secondly, the individual is used as a basis for

employment decisions affecting such individual. Finally, the result of 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. (Aggarwal, 89-93)

Another form of sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. The

hostile environment theory involves sexual advances between the supervisor

and the employee. An employee’s work performance will be less effective due

to these so-called sexual advances. However, a victim can file a complaint

against their harasser so that they do not continuously force them to

participate. Consequently, they will be forced to hand in their resignation.

This issue of power has nothing to do with sex. For this reason, both


male and females can be the harasser. The harasser’s main purpose is to

force another to feel or act in a certain way. Sometimes, sexual harassment

causes an individual from effectively performing his/her job. As a result,

is undermines an individual’s dignity.

In our society, there are three essential factors that relate to the

issue of sexual advances. These elements are a divergence of perceptions,

the complexity of human behavior and the attitudes of a sexist. (Lindemann,

46-48) It is often difficult to draw a line between what is acceptable and

what is unacceptable in a working environment because of the existence of

these ingredients. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, which can

manifest itself in terms of physical and psychological acts. Physically, the

recipient may be the victim of pinching, grabbing, hugging, patting, leering,

brushing against and forms of touching. Psychological harassment can occur

through the proposal of physical intimacy by requesting dates and sexual


In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was established, by various

state legislation, to prohibit sex discrimination in the working environment.

After a decade of the enactment of Title VII, the Supreme Court confronted

its first case, Barnes vs. Train, which pertained to the issue of sexual

harassment. In the case of Barnes vs. Train, a woman was hired as an

administrative assistant. She filed a lawsuit against her male director

through the Environment Protection Agency’s Equal Opportunities Division

because she refused to engage in sexual relations with him. Nevertheless,

the district court dismissed this case. The district court believed that

even though Barnes was treated unjustly, the discrimination was not because

she was a woman. It was because she refused to engage in sexual behavior

with her supervisor. (Baridon, 12,13) Another


leading case recognized under the enactment of Title VII was Corne vs.

Bausch & Lomb Inc. In this particular case, there were two women who resigned

their positions in order to prevent their male supervisor from continuing to

take unsolicited and unwelcome sexual liberties with them. They sued their

supervisor for verbal and physical sexual advances. The district court in

Arizona dismissed the case on the ground that sexual discrimination exists in

many firm’s regulations. They decided that it would be unjust to those men

who had also been victims of harassment because there would not be any

grounds for a lawsuit. Under these circumstances, the district court only

recognizes sexual harassment when an employer avoids such charges due to the

fact that employees are against this kind of harassment. Thus, these cases

prove that the courts have a narrow interpretation of “sex discrimination”

and views inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace as an issue to be

decided under criminal law. The court believes that sexual harassment is not

sex discrimination because it proves that discrimination was based on the

willingness or non-willingness to engage in sexual activity rather than


Another famous case, which had a strong impact on today’s society, was Hill

vs. Thomas. In 1992, Anita Hill sued Clarence Thomas, a well-respected

politician, for sexual harassment. The court ruled in favor of Thomas

because they believed that her argument wasn’t strong enough. As a result of

this, Anita Hill began a feminist movement ranging from college campuses to

the U.S. Navy. She also encouraged women to run for political office,

inspiring academic scholarships and debate. She has a awaken many people to

the injury of sexual harassment conflicts. (Caggiano, 111-114)


The rate of sexual harassment increased dramatically in recent years. Most

respondents think that sexual harassment is a major problem in this country.

Not surprisingly, 82% of women and 43% of men recognize this problem in our

society. Only 42% categorize it as a minor problem. During 1987, a spokesman

who works in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Company realized

that the agency’s limited statistics on the number of claims filed were not

published. At this time, the agency began to collect and record this data.

The number of claims filed since that year has been unbelievable. There were

5,499 reported cases in 1988. In 1989 there were 5,623 cases and the cases

have been increasing annually. By 1993, 64% of females and 17% of males have

experienced some form of sexual harassment. (Serepca, 23)

Many people assume that sexual harassment is an expression of sexuality.

But most experts see it as a reflection of unequal power in the workplace.

Certainly, most victims are women in lowly positions. As more victims of

harassment have gone public, the damage the practice causes people to

repeatedly quite their jobs, switch professions, change majors or even drop

out of college. Sexuality is emotional, not rational. It may be an

important aspect of life, however it is also viewed as a frivolous concern at

work compared to the matters of government and education. For this reason,

most biologists, philosophers and theologians have a different notion

pertaining to the issue of sexual harassment due to their professional

standpoints. Indeed the work world in continuously dominated by men, many

women are still looking over their shoulders worrying whether they have

established their professional worth. Sexual harassment surveys demonstrate

that men view sexual advances as a minor problem in their work environment

but women


consider it as a major problem. Whatever the case may be, the true

realization of this is that men are still the dominant group in our society.



1. Aggarwal, Arjun P. “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” Butterworths

Canada Ltd. 1992

2. Lindemann, Barbara and Kadue, David D. “Sexual Harassment in Employmet

Law” Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) Transactional Reporting Services 1993

3. Caggiano, Christopher “The Inc. Faxpoll” Mutimedia Publications Inc.


4. Baridon, Andrea P. “The New Rules and Realities for Managing Men and

Women at Work” McGraw Hill Inc. 1994

5. Serepca, Beth “Sexual Harassment” Internal Auditor October 1995


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