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Would this situation constitute a case of sexual harassment?

You are a sergeant with the local police department's patrol division. During your shift a female officer asks if she can speak in private with you about a sensitive subject. You reply yes, and then go into your office, where the female officer begins to relay to you the results of a recent conversation that she had recently with another fellow female officer regarding inappropriate sexual advances that a male police officer had made to her while in the roll call area. You learn that this is not the first time that this male officer has made sexual comments to this same female officer. You also discover that this comment was possibly overheard by several other officers who were in attendance in the roll call room. You also are advised by the female officer who came to you with this information that she is fairly sure that the female officer that was the target of this unwarranted comment was afraid to complain to you, as she was afraid of retaliation by other officers on the shift for being a "tattletale".

QUESTIONS:

1. Supported by outside literature research and your text readings, would this situation constitute a case of sexual harassment?
2. As a supervisor in this situation what should your response be after hearing of this reported case of sexual harassment?
3. In the past, under what situations have the courts given guidelines as to what must occur before an individual can prove a sexual harassment case?
4. If the case is not investigated can the supervisor also be charged for failure to take action by the courts?
5. What specific federal laws or guidelines apply in sexual harassment cases?

I need ideas and suggestions. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Please see attached response for best formatting, some of which is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

Hi,

Let's take a closer look at each individual question through research and examples, which you can draw on for your 4-6- page report.

1. Supported by outside literature research and your text readings, would this situation constitute a case of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of the questions to ask is: Is this conduct pervasive and severe? This is question we need to consider for legal action. However, based on the workplace sexual harassment policy, it would probably be considered internal sexual harassment in the workplace.

Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment

In the 1980s the EEOC issued guidelines defining sexual harassment. The guidelines are found at 29 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1604.11. In 1986 the United States Supreme Court approved this definition in Meritor Savings Bank -v- Vinson. Since then, this definition has been quoted frequently as the legal definition of sexual harassment. It appears in countless court decisions and often is quoted in employer cases. The definition is "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when

1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment,
2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The first two prongs of this three-pronged definition refer to quid pro quo harassment. The third prong refers to the "hostile work environment" type of harassment. Of course, some claims of sexual harassment will include allegations of both quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. http://www.shrm.org/books/investigatingharassment/excerpt.asp

According to the above legal definition of sexual harassment, such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Since verbal statements may also constitute sexual harassment, based upon an evaluation of the totality of the circumstances, the supervisor would then make a decision. Relevant factors for the supervisor to consider include:

· The nature, frequency, context, and intended target of the remarks;
· Whether the remarks were hostile and derogatory;
· Whether the alleged harasser singled out the complaining party;
· Whether the complaining party participated in the exchange; and
· The relationship between the complaining party and the alleged harasser. http://www.expertlaw.com/library/employment/sexual_harassment.html

Workplace Definition of Sexual Harassment

Workplace rules that prohibit harassment -- including sexual harassment - are usually broader than the law. Again, to violate the law, the conduct must be severe or pervasive. To violate internal workplace rules against harassment ...

Solution Summary

Based on the scenario, this soltuion responds to the questions to answer the question: Would this situation constitute a case of sexual harassment? and what to do in this situation.

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