Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and although it is an offense committed by both females and males in assorted measures, it is predominately committed by males against females. Sexual harassment touches the lives of 40-60% of working women and similar proportions of female students in colleges and universities(Feignbaum, 115). Despite widespread publicity about the perils of sexual harassment, surveys demonstrate that many businesses operating in the United States have yet to address the problem. Moreover, recent news reports indicate that sexual harassment has reached the highest levels of management. The concept of sexual harassment has been around since the mid-1970s.
Today, both classifications of sexual harassment are claimed against men and women, resulting in a potential major loss for a company. A comment made by Donna Henry in response to Marianne Jennings article says “men and women no longer know how to relate to one another at work in a manner which creates a dignified and productive quality of life in the workplace. ”(634) The workplace is a place where one should feel comfortable. Yet while creating this comfortable atmosphere, workers should not feel like they have to constantly watch what they say. There is where the sexual harassment can get dangerous because what is not offensive to one person, may be for another. As Eventually this may end up effecting the working woman.
As Elizabeth Larson writes “In the end, the true backlash against women will not stem from the lewd, sexist bosses but from something far more threatening to the achievements of women: an employer’s silent rejection of a woman’s job application for fear of trouble. ”(628) As a female this is what is most disturbing. This is why there needs to be clear cut definitions of what sexual harassment is. Federal law recognizes two different forms of claiming sexual harassment under Title VII.
The first is quid pro quo. Under the quid pro quo form of harassment, a person in authority, usually a supervisor, demands sexual favors of a subordinate as a condition of getting or keeping a job benefit. EEOC guidelines define sexual harassment generally as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. In quid pro quo cases, the offense is directly linked to an individual’s terms of employment or forms the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual. Usually, such cases are easy to recognize the first sexual harassment lawsuit under Title VII was decided on quid pro quo grounds. When such harassment occurs, the subordinate has the legal right to take the employer to court.
“Because courts follow the doctrine of respondeat superior, the company is held strictly liable even if it had no knowledge of the conduct. ” (Roberts)An example of this type of harassment is the case of Lelia Bush v. Astra AB. A pharmaceutical company recently agreed to pay $9. 85 million to settle claims that its president and other executives pressure female employees for sex. The settlement is the largest ever obtained by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Lelia Bush, a former ASTRA USA sales representative, who said women were constantly solicited for sexual favors while she worked there, filed the original complaint. Astra AB, a Swedish company, admitted that it allowed a hostile work environment, including requests for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment, at its U. S. headquarters. “The EEOC charged that the company’s former president, Lars Bildman, replaced older female employees with young, single women who were pressured to have sex.
Former employees said the president demanded that eight hours of work be followed by eight hours of drinking and partying,” according to the Associated Press. (Roberts) Bildman, who was accused of spending company money for his sexual fetishes, was fired in 1996. The $9. 85 million will be split among 79 women and a man who said he was for speaking out. (Roberts)Frequently, a quid pro quo situation does not exist. Many sexual harassment victims are never threatened with termination or lack of .