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 is not, sexual harassment.
What is sexual harassment in the workplace? Was John guilty of sexual harassment?
If you were Peggy, what would you do?
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?
Outline a brief personnel policy that an organization could adopt to protect itself from sexual harassment lawsuits.
In reference to the case on sexual harassment, this solution addresses the five questions in some detail. Examples are provided.