Although the task of police is to represent and protect the rights of citizens regarding a variety of issues, including sexual harassment, the police sexual misconduct is often observed in police departments. In this case, the sexual misconduct can be directed toward victims, offenders, citizens, and fellow officers. Thus, female officers regularly report being sexually harassed by male fellow officers, and the case Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders (2004) should be discussed in this category. The purpose of this paper is to present the cause of the suit, analyze the results of the case, and propose possible actions and procedures to prevent the problem.
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Referring to the background of the case, it is necessary to focus on the details of the suit. Nancy Drew Suders, who was working for the Pennsylvania State Police Department as a communications operator, stated that she had to quit her job because she was sexually harassed by her three supervisors. Suders claimed that she started working in March of 1998, and she was suffering from the sexual harassment till August of 1998. Sexual harassment included conversations of supervisors on sexual topics in front of Suders, abusive comments on the sexual behaviors, and obscene gestures. Suders also noted that she was accused of the theft related to the computer-skills exam that was initiated several times and not graded by the supervisors. As a result, Suders claimed that sexual harassment led her to constructive discharge (“Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders”). However, the district court judge protected the interests of the employer because Suders failed to complete the internal procedures in the police department to report the problem. Suders needed to appeal in order to protect her interests.
While focusing on the causes of the suit, it is necessary to state that such variants of the sexual harassment that include conversations on sexual topics, abusive comments, and obscene gestures are categorized as nonsexual or indirect sexual contacts that are also discussed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and legal anti-harassment policies. The abusive behavior of the supervisors made Suders protect her rights and dignity and become interested in the papers regarding her examination. As a result of working in the intolerable environment, Suders contacted the officer responsible for discussing the cases of equal opportunity and harassment, but Suders was unable to file a report because she was not provided with the necessary information. This situation led to the statement of the court, according to which the employer was discussed as non-responsible for the sexual harassment case because the employer provided Suders with opportunities to report the problem and correct the experienced sexually harassing behavior (“Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders”). Consequently, Suders needed to appeal to protect her interests regarding the sexual harassment case and prove a constructive discharge. In this case, it is possible to state that the cause of the suit for Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders was the uncertainty regarding the procedures and corrective or preventive measures proposed by the employer to protect the interests of the victim regarding possible sexual harassment.
The results of Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders were rather positive for the plaintiff because the court stated that the employer was responsible for preventing and correcting sexual harassment without focusing on the internal procedures. The main focus was on the fact that the harassment affected Suders so negatively that she became the victim and she chose to quit. In this case, the employer was responsible for her psychological state because the supervisors were in a position of power and they could influence actions of Suders (“Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders”). As a result, the female employee had to choose between working in the severely abusive environment and quitting. The court stated that the hostile workplace environment and the case of sexual harassment could affect the employee’s activities, and the employer was responsible for preventing and correcting the situation in spite of the fact that the police officers failed to address the problem because of the ineffective procedures.
In order to prevent problems and suits similar to Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders, it is necessary to improve the employer’s approach to developing the anti-harassment policy and associated preventive and corrective procedures. The proposed internal policy in the discussed case did not provide the solution for the sexual harassment problem because Suders was psychologically oppressed and could not act reasonably in the hostile environment. From this point, it is necessary to propose the policy in which the investigation can be possible without the necessity to file a report in order to better address all forms of harassment influencing the working environment. It is necessary to respond to the problem of lack of supervision over such cases and pay more attention to the realities of the workplaces. The anti-harassment training in police departments can be discussed as an effective preventive procedure to build the psychologically positive environment.
From this point, it is possible to state that the cases of sexual harassment can also be observed in the police departments and the ineffective procedures developed as the part of the anti-harassment policy can lead to violating the rights of possible victims. The case Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders demonstrates the necessity to implement more effective programs for preventing police sexual harassment cases.
Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders. 2004. Web.