Employment Law. Civil Rights Act and Sexual Harassment


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids unfair treatment of employees on the basis of sex, religion, color, nationality, or race. It also forbids the unfair treatment of an employee because of his or her association with individuals of certain sex, religion, color, nationality, or race. It also forbids employers from discriminating against an employee because of an interracial relationship like an interracial marriage (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Sexual harassment is a mode of sexual discrimination. It is a violation of the Title VII of the civil rights act that was amended in the year 1964. If an individual’s employment is affected by unwelcome sexual requests or advances, demands for sexual favors can be termed as sexual harassment at the workplace. It may interfere with the person’s performance and usually creates a hostile and offensive environment for the person to work in (World Bank, 60).

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Sexual harassment occurs in various circumstances. The offensive party and the offended party may be male or female, and the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The offensive party may be the victim’s superior, employer, or co-worker. The offensive party may also be a non-worker. The victim may range from the offended party to anyone else who is affected by the offensive party’s behavior. Sexual harassment may happen without any economic damage to the injured party and may not cause the discharge of the victim. For any action to be termed as sexual harassment, the offender’s action must not be welcome to the victim (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

The victim should directly inform the offender that the action is not welcome and inform the offender of the importance of ceasing the action. It is also helpful if the victim should employ the employer complaint mechanism or any other system available. The best tool for ending sexual harassment at the workplace is to prevent it from happening in the first place. The employer should strictly insist to all the employees that sexual harassment is not acceptable and has dire consequences if it occurs. The employee should come up with effective mechanisms and systems to handle cases of sexual harassment (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Title VII implications on employers and employees

Title VII forbids employers to discriminate against employing people on the basis of their race, religion, color, and sex and should not discriminate against employees on the basis of the above background against compensations and terms and conditions.

It also forbids employers to classify employees in any way that would limit them of employment opportunities or that would affect the employees’ status when working in the organization (Webb, 73).

It terms employment agency failure or refusal to refer an individual for employment on the basis of their race, color, religion, or sexual orientation as unlawful employment practice of the employment agencies.

Effects of Sexual harassment in the workplace

The individual effects of sexual harassment may vary from one individual to another and are based on the severity and the duration that the action has been taking place. Victims of sexual harassment can suffer the same psychological effects as rape victims, and this may ultimately affect their productivity at the workplace.

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One of the effects of sexual harassment is the decreased work performance. This is because the victim may lose his or her focus on the work performance and direct it on dealing with the harassment ordeals. The psychological trauma one goes through also contributes largely to the low work performance (World Bank, 61).

There is also increased absenteeism as the employer tries to avoid sexual harassment ordeals. Absenteeism also maybe as a result of illness from the stress that one is subjected to after going through a sexual harassment ordeal. Absenteeism also contributes to the low work performance that can be registered by an employee (Yamakawa, 40).

There is also the case of retaliation by the offender where the victim is at risk of various forms of revenge from the offender if he/she reports the sexual harassment to a higher authority. If the victim should file a grievance, then he or she is at risk of being revenged, which may be more sexual harassment. This will eventually result in low work performance because the victim will have to shift his or her focus on sexual harassment rather than on performance.

It also results in defamation of the victims’ and offender’s reputation and tainting of the character. As a result, the entire organization’s reputation is tainted, and this leads to the lack of trust by the public in the organization (Webb, 71).

The victims trust in the people that occupy the same position as the offender. This may result in antagonistic relationships in the organization hence limiting the organization’s flow of information. This will eventually result in the organization’s failure in accomplishing set targets and goals.

The victim’s support network that includes family and friends may distance themselves from the victim as a result of an ordeal. This is because many people would not want to be associated with a sexual harassment victim. This may result in low self esteem and low morale, which eventually affect the entire organization’s performance (World Bank, 64).

Victims may also develop phobias related to certain environments that the ordeals happen. This environment may include places where the victim’s productivity is at its peak. This affects the entire organization’s output which results in the company being unable to perform to meet its set objectives and targets (Yamakawa, 43).

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There are other health related effects that include depression which the victim is prone to. This also reduces the capability of the victim to perform his best because these health issues affect the victim’s focus and morale.

Case study: Maria Sanchez

Maria Sanchez is in her early-twenties. She was born and raised in El Salvador. Her father murdered as a result of political activities. When she was sixteen, she became the target of many and constant sexual harassment by armed men. They would insinuate a sexual relationship with her, but she would constantly defy with them. At that time she was working at a cornfield that was controlled by the gang.

They learnt of her home place and went severally with the intention of gang-raping her but luckily she was not in the times they came. One time they came and finding her absent, they brutally raped her mother while her little sister was forced to watch the scene tied to a chair with a rug stuck on her mouth. Maria reported the matter to the police and some gang members were arrested.

Maria was fortunate to flee for her life to the United States, but the people who helped her to gain entry to the US subjected her as well as other females to sexual harassment and abuse as well. The gang member who abused her mother has been released after six months and has sworn to kill her upon her return to El Salvador. He has also defamed her, claiming that he raped her and that she is now a prostitute. She now faces ostracization in her society because of the society attitude towards prostitutes and rape victims. She is also in danger of more sexual violence (Tahirih Organization).

Conclusion

Sexual harassment is a behavior that should be discouraged from all workplaces, and societies at large should provide adequate punishment for people who are found to be guilty of the behavior.

Sexual harassment dehumanizes many people and so should not be tolerated by all communities of the world. People who have suffered from sexual harassment have been classified to have feelings and emotions like rape victims. The people responsible should be afforded severe punishment like imprisonment.

Since it brings a lot of misgivings in any workplace and an organization at large, the management of various organizations should inform the employees of dire consequences if they are found to have the behavior of sexual harassment. It is very costly for any organization to have people who tend to have a sexual harassment history (Yamakawa, 44).

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Works Cited

Tahirih Organization (2000): Tahirih Justice Center Case Summaries. Web.

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1997): Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. Web.

Webb, S. L. Step forward: Sexual harassment in the workplace. What you need to know! New York. Master media: 1991: 69 – 80.

World Bank. Preventing and stopping sexual harassment in the workplace. Washington. 1994: 58 – 65.

Yamakawa, R. Personal Rights in the Workplace: The emerging law concerning sexual harassment in Japan. Tokyo. Japan Labour Bulletin 1997: 39 – 45.

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