During the early history, men have ruled over women. Men were superior to women in almost all aspect of life. Eventually, women have always been discriminated and given lesser priority than men. In the workplace, the discrimination as to gender and sexual abuses is rampant. Men were eliciting sexual favors in exchange of employment or promotion. As for men, they have viewed such as a privilege. But such belief has almost erased the respect and dignity of women in the society. Through the developments in legal framework with regard to gender, discrimination against women has dramatically changed.
The purpose of women in the society has been defined and they have also established their dignity and regained their power. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted covering all kind of discriminations in the workplace or employment (Pozgar and Santucci, 2007, p. 418). Under this act, sex cannot be used as a basis in hiring. This was the start of the journey for women equality. After the implementation of the Act, several cases have been filed against employers making sexual advances in exchange of employment.
Meanwhile, sexual harassment is defined by U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as; An unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when this conduct; explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment; unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance; or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. (Pozgar and Santucci, 2007, p. 418) Through the cases lodged in the courts, the scope of the law has also widened.
Sexual harassment can also be committed in many ways by both male and female. Sexual harassment has also been categorized into two types. One is the “quid pro quo” and the “hostile environment” (Schickman, 2008). The first type literally means “something for something” which implies a condition or favor in exchange of sexual favor (Schickman, 2008). The second type, on the other hand, considers it as sexual harassment when the workplace pervasively alters the terms and conditions of employment (Schickman, 2008).
In relation to this, it was held in the case of Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards that a sexually hostile environment, occurs when a workplace is populated by minority of women and pornographic materials and graffiti are scattered. As such, this is covered by the law (The California State University, 2008). The determination of which is based upon reasonable woman standard rather than reasonable person standard (Pozgar and Santucci, 2007). In 1991, the court has adopted the women test in weighing whether a cause of action is actionable or not.
Remarkably, sexual harassment can be committed by a woman and can be committed against an individual of the same sex. This was held in the case of Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. , et al (The California State University, 2008). In making sexual harassment as a strict law, the employer can still be made liable for his inactions or failure to prevent such despite his knowledge. Because of the generality of sexual harassment, the court has narrowed it by providing factors to consider. In Harris v.
Forklift Systems, Inc, the court stated that the following factors should be considered in analyzing the existence of sexual harassment. One is the frequency of the conduct or times when the sexual abuse occurred and its severity. Other factors include assessment whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating or merely utterances, whether it is unreasonably interfering with the work performance of the employee, and the totality of the circumstances should be considered rather than single factor (The California State University, 2008).
Since then, sexual harassment has become one of the enemies of the society. The unlawful sexual conducts of those in positions and in exchange for employment favor continued to plague the labor sector. At the same time, it downgrades the dignity and confidence of women. However, through the sexual harassment law, the working environment has recognized the vitality of women and the latter has gained back the respect that they deserve. References Pozgar, G. D.
, and Santucci, N. M. (2007). Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration. Mass. : Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Schickman, M. I. American Bar Association. (2008). Sexual Harassment: The employer’s role in prevention. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from http://www. abanet. org/genpractice/magazine/1996/winter/w96shi. html The California State University. (2008). Development in Sexual Harassment Law. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from http://www. calstate. edu/hr/SHLaw. pdf.