This research paper explicitly examines the two types of sexual harassment commonly found in the work place. As it would be observed, sexual harassment of any nature can be a devastating issue that comes with serious implications to its victims. Nowadays, the habit has turned out to be a major issue in the contemporary society and indeed one of the dominant concerns of all times.
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This paper provides a deeper insight on the two types of sexual harassment, as it is revealed on various studies on the field. Key aspects such as causes of sexual harassments and types of harassers as well as typical victims of this devastating practice are also examined here. Sexual harassment is becoming a major social issue in the contemporary society and apart from the unbearable shame and humiliation that it brings to victims, it is also likely to bear adverse consequences to the society.
In this regard, there is need for the issue to be addressed with serious concerns and emphasized approaches, before it completely robs the society of its integrity. If entertained, this can result to serious cases of sexual assault or rape. Some of the most vital steps that should be taken by victims of this vice is to collect enough proof, where possible and seek immediate help from sexual harassment specialists.
Sexual harassment is really becoming a major obstacle to economical development of most countries in the world. The issue has a direct impact to the productivity and profitability of businesses and corporations. Sexual harassment simply refers to the kind of discrimination, threats or pressures that people are likely to receive, especially in their workplaces, for failure to put up with sexual remarks by another person or to give into their sexual approaches (Einarsen, 1990).
However, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the term is simply taken to refer to any unwelcomed conduct that would be of a sexual nature. Generally, sexual harassments in workplaces can be triggered by a number of things which include, requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other physical or verbal intimidation associated with sexuality.
A person of any gender can be victim or assailant of gender harassment. However, even though the practice would be expected to take place mostly between persons of different genders, there have been reported cases whereby men have been harassed by other men and women by other women.
As it would be observed in the EEOC guidelines, the two major categories of sexual harassments commonly found in work places are Quid pro quo and Hostile work environment. Previously, the habit may have passed on lightly as a common practice anticipated in workplaces.
This however, would change completely in the year 1980 when EEOC issued guidelines declaring the move as a breach of Title VII (Section 703). Currently, sexual harassment is increasingly becoming common in many workplaces and this comes with adverse consequences which can deal a real blow on economies and human integrity in the society.
The two types of sexual harassment
Quid Pro Quo
As it would be observed, this type of sexual harassment is the most easier to understand. The term ‘quid pro quo’ is a Latin expression which means ‘something for something’ and this can refer to situations where employers or other people in authority would ask for sexual favors from their subordinates, in return to various other benefits. Some of the things such as promotions, privileges at work, or even money compensations.
Even though the more uncommon of the two types of sexual harassment, quid pro quo is actually the easiest to prove (Richman and Rospenda, 1999). In this case, victims are faced with the dilemma of giving into unwanted sexual demands or facing the wrath of losing the benefits and ending up being punished severely through ways related to their work. A perfect example of quid pro quo sexual harassment is whereby a manager or a supervisor demands to have sex with one of his female subordinates in return of a promotion.
Hostile work environment
Unlike the ‘quid pro quo’ which is limited to sexual acts, this type of sexual harassment extends to other levels such as unwelcome physical or extreme verbal sexual behavior (Paul, 1990).
In most cases, this type of harassment is executed by an individual to another individual belonging to a different gender. Examples of hostile environment associated with this type of harassment include scenarios such as seeing pornographic images, hearing sexual utterances or jokes, and receiving occasional advances or invitations to go on romantic dates (Carr-Ruffino, 1996).
There may be no threat to one’s employment in this type of sexual harassment, but the outcome is enough to push the victim to serious psychological pressures or strain. An example of this type of sexual harassment is whereby a male staff member constantly picks on his male colleagues at work but not his female coworkers.
Causes and nature of sexual harassment
Causes of sexual harassment would tend to vary from people to people and from region to region. However, most of these causes are interrelated and would be linked to values and culture working places and in society, and also to the responsibilities, relative position and authority of the people concerned.
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One major cause of this incessant practice is socialization. In most cases, people’s behaviors in the workplaces are strongly influenced by the way they were raised to perceive themselves and others in the society. For example, someone who was raised up in a culture which discriminates against other people, simply because of their race, cultural and/or sexual dimensions, would not find it unusual to extend the same attitude to their colleagues at work.
Aggressiveness is another major cause of sexual harassment not only in the workplace, but also in other various segments of the society (Gruber, 1998). People of the same gender, who are in groups, would often tend to behave in totally different manner from how they would independently when they come across a person of the opposite sex.
Another major cause of harassment is lack of company policy whereby some organizations lack complaint and disciplinary policies to address issues of harassment in their units. In cases whereby perpetrators are left to go unpunished of sexual harassment behaviors, they would carry on this pattern and continue causing harassment to their colleagues at work. Other effective causes of sexual harassment in organizations would include power moral values, cultural differences and power games.
According to Truckenbrodt (2000), any form of sexual harassment normally results to offensive or hostile work environment. As a matter of fact, sexual harassment is reputed as the most devastating barriers to career prosperity in women, who are the most affected category here.
This, as observed in the findings of various studies, is likely to impose adverse effects on the health, performance and morale of the victims. Harassment aligned to sexuality is one of the most intimidating approaches that can be undertaken on a person’s status and integrity. Victims would often tend to take time off work owing to stress and anxiety associated with the harassments. On a more significant note, employees may also be forced by the circumstances to withdrawal from their jobs.
All these scenarios would mean lowered productivity levels in the market and this poses a direct challenge on economical developments. In that case, “sexual harassment remains a major obstacle to the effective integration of effective business policies, that are likely to contribute to economical growth and prevalence” (Schneider, 1997).
As observed in this study, the progressive issue of sexual harassment in work places is likely to bear serious long-term implications, not only to the immediate victims, but to the entire society as well. For instance, changes in things such aspects such as the economy would not affect just a segment of the society, but the entire society.
Sexual harassment has been condemned as one of the most serious crimes that can be executed against human rights. The cruel practice is ‘unwelcome’ in all grounds and should never be encouraged at whatever cost. Recently, there are numerous laws and regulations which are intended to curb unlawful sexual harassment, as they are imposed by EEOC, among other statutory organizations (Ilies, 2003).
Considering the heightening implications of this vice in the society, there is a need for more concern to be accorded to the issue. For instance, to be able to minimize the cases of sexual harassment in the society people should first of all forget their cultural differences in work places.
More importantly, companies and organizations should try to come up with strong policies to address harassment. People who suspect sexual harassment should always speak it out to their bosses and colleagues at work. Upon this initial step, they should also collect enough proof where possible and try to seek immediate help from sexual harassment specialists.
Carr-Ruffino, N. (1996). Managing diversity: People skills for a multicultural workplace. New York: Thomson Executive Press.
Einarsen, S. (1999). The nature and causes of bullying at work. International Journal of Manpower, 20 (1/2), 16-27.
Gruber, J. (1998). The impact of male work environments and organizational policies on women’s experiences of sexual harassment. Gender & Society, 12 (3), 301- 320.
Ilies, R. (2003). Reported Incidence Rates of Work-Related Sexual Harassment in The United States: Using Meta-Analysis to Explain Reported Rate Disparities. Personnel Psychology, 56 (3), 607-631.
Paul, E. (1990). Sexual Harassment as Sex Discrimination: A Defective Paradigm. Yale Law & Policy Review, 8 (2), 333-365.
Schneider, K. (1997). Job-related and psychological effects of sexual harassment in the workplace: Empirical evidence from two organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82 (3), 401.
Richman, J. and Rospenda, K. (1999). Sexual harassment and generalized workplace abuse among university employees: prevalence and mental health correlates. American Journal of Public Health, 89 (3), 358.
Truckenbrodt, Y. (2000). The relationship between leader-member exchange and commitment and organizational citizenship behavior. Web.