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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Was John guilty of sexual harassment?

Consider the following case:

Peggy had been working for a real estate agency for two months. During this time she developed a friendship with another fellow real estate agent, John. John helped Peggy learn the various policies and procedures of the office.

During a recent office party John asked if Peggy would be interested in going to dinner together the next night. Peggy said no, explaining that she had made other plans already.

A week later Peggy got her first big sale and this accomplishment was announced to the other real estate agents. Later that day she walked by John's desk and John patted her on the buttocks and said, "Congratulations, the first one is always the toughest to get!"

Peggy was very uncomfortable with the incident and the next day asked to speak with her supervisor, Mike. Mike, who was busy trying to negotiate a real estate deal for a customer, listened as Peggy explained what happened but kept interrupting her to answer the phone.

Once Peggy finished her story Mike stated that since this was not an incident of sexual harassment there was nothing he could do. He told her to let him know if anything more serious happens and then he will talk with John about the problem. Following that statement Mike picked up the phone and continued with the negotiation.

The above case describes a single incident that occurred between co-workers, one day at work, along with the subsequent meeting Peggy had with her boss the following morning to report the incident. Peggy believes the incident is sexual harassment. The case gives students an opportunity to carefully consider what is, and what sexual harassment is not,

1.What is sexual harassment in the workplace? Was John guilty of sexual harassment?
2.If you were Peggy, what would you do?
3.What is an organization's responsibility in regard to sexual harassment among co workers or supervisor subordinate pairs? Do you think that Mike responded appropriately to the problem?
4.Outline a brief personnel policy that an organization could adopt to protect itself from sexual harassment lawsuits.

Solution Preview

Sexual Harassment in the workplace

Sexual Harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination where one employee makes continued sexual advances that are not welcome to another colleague. It may include asking for unwelcome sexual favors or any other physical or verbal sexual conduct that is unwelcome. Sexual harassment violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act; title VII (Heathfield, 2011).
The U.S, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) points out that sexual harassment occurs when "rejection of or submission to this conduct affects an employees employment, unreasonably interferes with their work performance or creates an uncomfortable, hostile, and intimidating environment to work in" (Heathfield, 2011).

In this case scenario since John's conduct was of a sexual nature and unwelcome by Peggy, and made her uncomfortable in her place of work then yes, John was guilty of sexual harassment. If I were Peggy, I would have talked to John since he was a friend and colleague not to do that again or to make any sexual contact or ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses sexual harassment in the workplace, the case of Peggy and John, and human resource personnel policy in 588 words with two references.