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Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can be interpreted in many different ways. Although it does not have a “fixed” definition, it can generally be described as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individuals employment, unreasonably interferes with an individuals work performance or creates an intimidation, hostile or offensive work environment. Though some might think of this crime just flirting, a joke, or having “a little fun”, it is not. In an effort to stop it, many laws have been passed in order to help fight sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is very common in the nineties and people have to start thinking seriously about this issue.
Sexual harassment can be broken down into two categories. The first type is called “quid pro quo” harassment. This form can basically be understood as something for something else, or one thing in return for another. Often times in the school environment quid pro quo harassment occurs when a school employee causes a student to believe that he or she must submit to unwelcome sexual conduct in order to get a good grade, or have sexual conduct with them in order to participate in programs or classes. In the work place, this form of harassment can occur when a person in authority, usually a supervisor, demands sexual favors of a subordinate as a condition of getting or keeping a job benefit.

The second form of sexual harassment is called hostile environment. This occurs when one might feel inferior, intimidated, or offended because of sexual misconduct from another person. These feeling therefore make the atmosphere around them feel hostile. There must be three elements to constitute hostile environment sexual harassment. The actions must be sexual in nature, unwelcome or unwanted, and repeated. In the classroom, this harassment takes charge when unwelcome sexually harassing conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a students ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity. This might occur when not only one person but a group of people make a person feel offended in their own surroundings. In the work place, a hostile work environment arises when a co-worker or supervisor, engaging in unwelcome and inappropriate sexually base behavior.
Before 1964 sexual harassment was not an uncommon situation in the workplace. Not many people knew what kind of emotional damage it could do to one. In the year of 1964, the Civil Rights Act, Title VII, of 1964 prohibited sexual and racial discrimination at work. This was the first step in the push to stop sexual harassment. The Civil Rights Act, Title IX, of 1972 prohibited sexual and racial discrimination against students and staff in educational programs or activities that receive federal funds. It says students can sue to collect monetary damages from the school, and that the school can lose federal funds. This law is essential in ensuring nondiscriminatory, safe environments in which students can learn. The third major law that was passed was in 1991, Title VII entitled sexual harassment victims to collect only back pay, lost wages and, if they had been forced to leave, to be reinstated in their jobs. Though, this law did not provide for the victims suffering, and they would soon be put right back into their intolerable job, congress amended this act so the victims can recover compensatory damages beyond back pay. These major laws are prevention tools in the fight against sexual harassment. They did and will help many people get what they deserve in the courtroom.
In a case called Hall v. Gus Construction Co., a construction company hired three women to work as “flag persons” or traffic controllers at road construction sites. Male co-workers immediately and continually subjected the women to outrageous verbal sexual abuse. One of the three women developed a skin reaction to the sun and the men nicknamed her “herpes”. When the women returned to their car after work on day, they found obscenities written in the dust on their car. Male co-workers continuously asked the woman if they wanted to engage in sexual intercourse or oral sex. On one occasion, the men held up one of the female employees so that the driver of the truck could touch her. The men subjected all three woman to other types of abuse, including “mooning” them, showing them pornographic pictures, and urination in their water bottles and automobile gas tanks. The companys supervisor was well aware of all of these activities. The court found this conduct violated Title VII because it was unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
In another case involving sexual harassment, a former lifeguard, Beth Ann Faragher, sued the city of Boca Raton, Florida. In this case the question arose of whether an employer should be liable for the wrong of supervisor who create whats known as a “hostile work environment” by their verbal and physical misconduct. This is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination on the job. Faragher claimed that supervisors “slapped her on the behind, patted or thigh, and called her and other women offensive names. She said the abuse went on for years but in fear of jeopardizing her job, she never told anyone. The court ruled the city could not be held liable for the harassment because the men were acting outside the scope to their employment. Though the supervisors could be held liable under Title VII. Therefore these laws are key elements in the prevention of this epidemic.

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In conclusion, sexual harassment is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. No matter what age, sex, or race, sexual harassment is illegal and should be taken care of immediately. With the help of many people, this crime can be stopped and some would not have to live in an environment of fear.


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