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Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct Case Study

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Introduction

There is a case of sexual harassment at Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd. At a workplace, sexual harassment usually comes from colleagues and supervisors. In the case study, Rosetta’s colleagues are the source of sexual harassment to her. Stereotyping, norms, behaviors, poor communications, and inconsequential responses are the main factors that encourage sexual harassment at the workplace. The behavior may persist if no one intervenes or take any meaningful action.

Workplace sexual harassment can assume several forms. In the case study, Rosetta’s sexual harassment includes unwelcome jokes, explicit sexual comments, displaying centerfolds, sexist comments, innuendoes, derogatory comments about her Italian background and Italian men.

There are other forms, which include sexual assault, rape, fondling, demands for sexual favors, inappropriate touching, catcalls, leering, and unwanted flirting among others. Although Rosetta did not experience the latter group, it is important to point out that uncontrolled sexual harassment usually gets worse as the behavior gains momentum.

One must also point out that consensual sex, physical attraction, affection, and mutually encouraged flirting do not qualify to be acts of workplace sexual harassment. Although workplace harassment persists, it is illegal. The Criminal Code of Conduct, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Canadian Labor Code have all outlawed workplace sexual harassment.

Given the legal position of Canada on workplace sexual harassment, Rosetta’s male colleagues should face charges or warnings from the supervisor, Al. However, Al assumed that the complaints were matters of casual jokes rather than sexual harassment. Al has also concluded that Rosetta left the job on her own freewill and that the complaint was not justified because the work was stressful.

Problem Statement

Obviously, Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd lacks a code of conduct for employees on workplace sexual harassment, diversity, and inclusion. As a result, Al lacks any ground of investigating the matter and presenting a solution to any sexually harassed female employees. In addition, Rosetta has failed to report her case to the supervisor.

Analysis of Alternatives

One major challenge, which is clear in the case study, is hesitancy to inform the supervisor about sexual harassment. In fact, the issue is emotional and personal. As a result, many employees fail to report cases of sexual harassment. Rosetta informed Eva White, a colleague about her experiences.

However, she failed to report to the supervisor and opted to leave the job. One can attribute failure to report such cases to different factors. First, victims have personal risks and fear of losing the job. Second, the company’s policies on sexual harassment are not clear. In addition, there are no reporting lines and subsequent actions against the perpetrators.

Rosetta is skeptical about the issue of reporting the case because she knows Al will not consider it as a serious issue. She also shows that Al would not take any action against male workers. Clearly, Rosetta does not know how to handle the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace. This may suggest that the company lacks any policy on sexual harassment.

The best approach of overcoming workplace sexual harassment is prevention. In addition, the company should also take corrective measures in order to eradicate workplace sexual harassment.

Prevention is the best approach of controlling sexual harassment and other acts of discrimination at the workplace. The approach should involve the introduction of sexual harassment policy, employee training, and formal ways of reporting all forms of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Sexual harassment policy can protect employees from sexual harassment. It also protects the organization from potential lawsuits because of the damages from the act. Maple Leaf lacks any sexual harassment policy. Male employees have centerfolds on the walls behind their machines. The lack of sexual harassment policy at Maple Leaf has encouraged such behaviors in the company. While male employees might consider such behavior as normal, Rosetta finds them to be discriminatory and forms of harassment and discrimination.

Maple Leaf should introduce a code of conducts on sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination at the workplace. The company must define all forms of sexual harassment with reference to different laws of Canada on the issue. It should also indicate reporting procedures, investigation procedures, subsequent actions, and policy on any attempted retaliation. At the same time, Maple Leaf should insist on confidentiality, the role of supervisors, and harassment by other stakeholders rather than colleagues.

Supervisors and HR manager must enforce the written policy on sexual harassment. Otherwise, the policy will not serve its purpose. Maple Leaf can achieve this by observing some simple procedures. The company should include the code of conducts for all employees in the employee’s handbook.

In addition, there should be constant reminders for other employees about the Maple Leaf code of conduct. Maple Leaf must also ensure that all employees acknowledge and adhere to the code of conduct. In this regard, they will understand the consequences of failing to follow the code. Any case of sexual harassment should have clearly defined actions. Once Maple Leaf has adopted sexual harassment policy, it would be necessary to conduct an audit and improve it based on emerging definitions of workplace sexual harassment.

Training is mandatory on workplace sexual harassment. While Al and other male colleagues consider sexual harassment as casual and old jokes, Rosetta and Eva White do not think so. Majorities of Maple Leaf employees, including supervisors lack training on workplace sexual harassment. Maple Leaf can enhance prevention of sexual harassment through effective training of employees from different regions.

Training must inform employees about sexual harassment, its forms, effects on the victim, and consequences on the perpetrators and the company. Training can take any form. Employees must recognize the importance of training on sexual harassment. All training approaches must also focus on the hostile environment, which may result from sexual harassment.

The company should also create functional channels for sexual harassment complaints. Rosetta could have reported sexual harassment if the company had a formal reporting system. A lack of a formal reporting channel for sexual harassment leads to several unreported cases. Reporting a sexual harassment case is a way of discouraging such behaviors in an organization.

Senior executives must support sexual harassment claims by ensuring all supervisors implement the policy as stated in the code of conduct. They must also ensure fairness during investigation processes. The HR department must provide different alternatives of reporting claims of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Once an employee has reported a case of sexual harassment, the employer must take the necessary action in order to prevent a similar misconduct again. Al failed in his responsibility as a supervisor. Sexual harassment has negative consequences on employees as Rosetta indicates. Thus, Maple Leaf must stop it before it takes place. Nevertheless, any reported case of sexual harassment requires investigation, discipline, counseling, and adhere to policy on non-retaliation.

Recommendation

Employees should not act in a manner, which cause sexual harassment to colleagues or cause uncomfortable situation. This is what Rosetta experienced among her male co-workers. However, one must remember that actions and effects of such behaviors on others may determine harassment regardless of intentions.

Maple Leaf should provide a work environment, which is free of sexual harassment and any other form of discrimination against all employees. In this regard, the company must formulate and adopt a code of conduct with clearly defined sexual harassment policies and consequences of such behaviors. The policy must aim at preventing and addressing issues of sexual harassment among all employees. The policy must clarify sexual harassment, common harassment, investigation procedures, and a policy on employee dating and relationships.

The company must conduct training and inform all employees about the importance of the sexual harassment policy and other policies.

The role of the supervisor in sexual harassment, prevention, investigation, and correction should be clear. Al is unable to act on the case of Rosetta because he lacks guidance, does not know what sexual harassment is, and provides a casual approach to the whole issue. Supervisors must take an active role in protecting employees and ensuring a favorable work environment for all members of the company.

The company should encourage whistleblowers like Eva White. Eva must pursue the case and ensure that the company takes the required procedures to address the alleged sexual harassment. In a lawsuit, Maple Leaf must demonstrate that it took the right step to address the issue. Moreover, the company must all prove that consequences, which perpetrators received, were equally severe. Rosetta worked in a hostile environment because of sexual harassment and derogatory statements about her background.

Implementation

The company must adopt a policy on sexual harassment and other forms of harassment, which create hostile work environments for workers. Implementation of the policy should aim at preventing any potential future behaviors.

Employees must undergo training about sexual harassment policy. This would create awareness among employees about the outcomes of such behaviors.

Supervisors must investigate all reported cases of sexual harassment in order to ascertain the truth. Failure to investigate the issue could lead to a lawsuit.

It is difficult for workers to report cases of sexual harassment. Supervisors must not dismiss employees who report their cases because they might seek for outside help, which could be detrimental to the entire firm. In addition, the company must implement policies to protect whistleblowers.

During training, employees must recognize that the company’s policy does not support retaliation because it is illegal.

All supervisors and employees should follow procedures provided in the employee handbook when reporting cases of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. The supervisor must not attempt to favor any party and not dismiss the normal reporting procedures.

The supervisor should review the case by initiating interviews with the complainant and perpetrators. Details are critical in this stage. The process should remain confidential because such issues of harassment and discrimination can create a hostile work environment.

After establishing all the facts on the case, the employer or supervisor must take an appropriate action against perpetrators of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. Actions could be dismissal for serious cases while other forms of sexual harassment may require warnings or counseling.

In some cases, the company may also consider assistance from external experts.

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IvyPanda. (2019, November 25). Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/legal-chalenge/

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"Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct." IvyPanda, 25 Nov. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/legal-chalenge/.

1. IvyPanda. "Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct." November 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/legal-chalenge/.


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IvyPanda. "Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct." November 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/legal-chalenge/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct." November 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/legal-chalenge/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Legal Challenge: Maple Leaf Shoes Ltd and Code of Conduct'. 25 November.

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