A Note on Sexual Harassment
10 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008
This technical note, revised in 2004, discusses sexual harassment, its definition (including the two main definitions, quid pro quo and hostile environment), legal issues, and background. Included in the note are statistics compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on incidents of sexual harassment and key Supreme Court rulings on the issue, including Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson (1986), Faragher v. City of Boca Raton (1998), and Burlington Industries v. Ellerth (1998).
A NOTE ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT
More sexual harassment scandals and problems unfolded in the 1990s with a raised public consciousness about the issue. In 1993, the Navy Tailhook incident, during which women were harassed at a convention, resulted in the resignation of Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III. That same year saw accusations of inappropriate behavior of Senator Bob Packwood toward the women on his staff. In 1995, the FBI paid a female former agent $ 300,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was sued for sexual harassment by Paula Jones, who accused him of asking for sex when he was governor of Arkansas. After the Citadel, an all-male military academy, began admitting women in 1997, eight cases of sexual harassment were reported there over the next six years; and in 2002, reports of harassment at the U.S. Air Force Academy (which first admitted women in 1976) made headlines.
Other high-profile sexual harassment lawsuits during the 1990s involved Mitsubishi, Texaco, Home Depot, Hooters, Publix, Astra Pharmaceuticals LP, Dillard Department Stores, DaimlerChrysler, Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, Wal-Mart, and talk show host Montel Williams; and in a “reverse discrimination” suit, eight Boston men sued diet company Jenny Craig. As a result of these incidents, particularly the Clarence Thomas hearings, that decade witnessed a growing awareness of the extent of the problem and increased attempts by companies and organizations to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.
According to surveys and information compiled by the EEOC and state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) throughout the United States, sexual harassment was an alarmingly pervasive reality. In the decade between 1992 and 2002, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC and the FEPAs grew from 10,532 to 14,396 (see Exhibit 1 for detailed figures). In 2003, 13,566 sexual harassment charges were filed (down from 14,396 in 2002).
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Keywords: ethical, issues, legal, issues, general, management
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