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Human Resources: Sexual Harassment Case Study

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You are the Manager of Human Resources for a Fortune 100 Company. A female employee approaches you, very upset and tells you that her manager, also a woman has told her that she if she does not enter into a sexual relationship with her that she will not receive any salary increase for the next year. She also tells you that her manager has sexually explicit photographs which she both leaves on her desk and at times shows to her. She tells you that she believes she is being sexually harassed. She is scared and wants you to take immediate action. If what the employee tells you is true, is it a violation of Title VII? Do you need any more information to answer this question? If so, what information do you need? How would you go about investigating these allegations?

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First and foremost, you are obligated to take this report seriously whether or not you believe it to be true. You must start by documenting the report and then beginning to investigate it. If you do not, and there really is a sexual harassment situation, the company (and possibly you personally) could be liable for damages incurred.

Now, to answer your quesitons. ...

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Human Resource Problems: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Each question needs to be answered in 600 words or more. Please provide a full justification for your reasoning and references.

1. A woman hired as a prison librarian complained about harassment by a supervisor from another agency that operated at the prison. The behavior that was the subject of her complaint, some of which was witnessed by other employees, occurred about four times a week from the time that she hired in July 200 to October 2001. Her complaints about the supervisor included making comments to another male supervisor that the woman should be "spanked" everyday; making insistent compliments about her appearance and "how attractive" she was; staring at her breasts during conversations; measuring her skirt for the purported purpose of determining whether it complied with the prison's dress code; and repeatedly remarking that if he has such an attractive wife, he would never allow her to work in a prison around so many inmates. Allegedly, for safety reasons, the supervisor had a security camera installed in the librarian's office, permitting him to observe her as she worked at her desk. Right after the objectionable conduct began, the librarian complained to her immediate supervisor, who said, "boys will be boys" and took no action. She did not file a formal complaint. She believed that she was ineligible to file a formal complaint during her first year of employment due to her probationary status. After she had been on the job for more than a year, she complained to another manager and an internal investigation was undertaken at that point. The woman sued. What should the court decide? Why?

2. A 17-year-old female supermarket employee was being severely harassed by a coworker. Twice she complained about the harassment to her fiancé, who also worked at the supermarket. Twice the fiancé reported the harassment to the store manager. Both times the manager informed him that under company policy, the woman had to report the harassment herself and make the report directly to the human resources department. The woman did not make the report to the HR department and later sued. What should the court decide? Why?

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