The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) sexual harassment guidelines and the Civil Act of 1964, indicate that Susan Parker was indeed sexually harassed throughout her employment at Plastech Industries. The EEOC has created a set of guidelines that determine liability. These EEOC guidelines say that “A key factor in determining liability is whether the employer has an effective internal grievance procedure that allows employees to bypass immediate supervisors (who are often the offenders)” (Making the Sale p. 46).
According to the EEOC and section 703 of Title VII in the Civil Act of 1964, sexual harassment is: “ …sex discrimination not because of the sexual nature of the conduct to which the victim is subjected but because the harasser treats a member or members of one sex differently from members of the opposite sex. However, it is the sexual nature of the prohibited conduct which makes this form of sex discrimination sexual harassment” (EEOC Compliance The two types of sexual harassment recognized today are known as “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment”.
According to the EEOC guidelines, quid pro quo exists when “submission to or rejection of (unwelcome sexual) conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual”. Hostile environment exists when unwelcome sexual conduct greatly disturbs an individual and interferes with the individual’s job performance. Hostile environment also creates an intimidating workplace for all employees. (EEOC Compliance Manual) The EEOC has also stated that a victim of sexual harassment need not say anything to any supervisor.
Co-workers and supervisors are liable if any one knew or should have known that unprofessional conduct was occurring. If it can be proved that the harasser knew what (s)he was doing was wrong, the harasser can be held responsible even though nothing about the matter was reported. As part 5 of section 615. 2 (b) of the EEOC Compliance Manual states, There is no requirement that the victim complain to the harasser or report the sexual harassment to his/her supervisor or employer in order for the mployer to be held responsible for the unlawful conduct when the harassment is committed by the supervisor.
And … likewise, there is no requirement that the victim complain to the harasser or report the sexual harassment where the act is committed by a co-worker or a non-employee, the employer will not be held responsible for the act unless it knew or should have known that the act occurred and failed to appropriate In the case of Susan Parker vs. Randy Louvenberger, the victim (Susan Parker) did not keep quiet about the harassment she received. Since the level of sexual harassment in Plastech Industries is demonstrably high, any competent supervisor should be able to recognize and eliminate the harassment.
Although her supervisor, Randy Louvenberger, ceased to harass Susan Parker after being confronted about his behavior, such a confrontation should not even have been necessary. Mr. Louvenberger’s comments about her playing hard-to-get indicate his recognition that Ms. Parker did not enjoy the suggestive remarks made by male Co-workers. In fact, this comment shows that he was aware that Susan Parker had declined the offers that she had received, and he should have known at that point that she was not interested in dating him. When Susan Parker applied for a promotion, Randy Louvenberger denied it.
She stated in her testimony that she felt her loss of promotion was due to their earlier conversation regarding the inappropriateness of Louvenberger’s actions towards her. The fact that she made this statement may show that he gave her reason to feel this way. If Mr. Louvenberger did base his decision about the promotion on the fact that Ms. Parker embarrassed him, he is clearly in violation of part 2 of section 1604. 11(a) of the EEOC Compliance Manual. This section states that no employment decision may have any sexual favors implied.
Randy Louvenberger’s earlier actions created a hostile environment for Susan Parker, and that is his primary violation of laws against sexual harassment. In the case of Henson vs. City of Dundee and Rogers vs. EEOC, the court ruled that the manager was guilty of sexual harassment even though the victim seemed to play along with the sexually inappropriate jokes. In these two cases, each victim claimed that the manager created a hostile environment with his comments, and that environment greatly impaired their ability to work in the office.
Although Susan Parker tolerated the verbal sexual harassment for a month before saying anything, Randy Louvenberger was still creating a hostile environment for other employees. Verbal abuse ceases to be sexual harassment only when it “…neither discriminates on the basis of sex nor is sexual in nature. ” (EEOC Compliance Manual) Today, most companies treat sexual harassment as a serious act that demands actions, therefore, they often establish guidelines on how to avoid and handle sexual harassment.
However, some companies still do not appear to have sexual harassment regulations or at least not publicly accessible ones. One of these companies is Firestone. It seems as though information about the recent tire recall is the only topic that one can access on it’s website or through emails. Nevertheless, an examination of the sexual harassment policies of other companies provides a basis for recommendations. EDS, Electronic Data Systems, serves as a good model in considering which rules are worth implementation.
Kevin McFarling, Client Delivery Executive, sums up his company’s attitude toward sexual harassment: “Sexual harassment is not to be ignored. It is very serious and needs to be treated that way by all employees. It is inexcusable in any environment, let alone a professional one” (McFarling) EDS’s policy on sexual harassment is as follows: EDS does not tolerate sexual harassment or other lawful harassment in the orkplace, whether committed by a co-worker, leader, client, contractor, suppliers, or anyone else.
Actions, words, jokes or comments that are derogatory and based on any persons gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion or disability will not be tolerated at EDS (Ethics In order to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone affiliated with EDS, tasks and responsibilities have been assigned to all employees, including leaders. These tasks and responsibilities include reporting incidents and adhering to the EDS sexual harassment policy. Leaders have the extra responsibility of educating employees about sexual harassment.
EDS also makes sure that training and materials are easily accessible to all employees. These informative materials can be obtained through the EDS Employee Relations and the EDS Office of Ethics and Business Conduct. Other companies should follow the example of EDS in educating their employees so they know that sexual harassment of any kind is not tolerated. Employees should be aware of what exactly constitutes as sexual harassment and avoid any activity that could be considered sexually offensive.
It is easier for a company to alert its employees about sexual harassment before it happens than to go through investigation and perhaps a court trial related to a charge of sexual harassment. EDS focuses on this type of preventive action to ensure a safe and professional atmosphere. Once an act of sexual harassment has been reported, EDS has set guidelines for the proper response to the problem. Leaders are told to: 3. Be sensitive to the situation (EDS Corporate Policies). Along with the actual allegation of sexual harassment, EDS takes the truth within the testimonies of witnesses very seriously.
In fact, the consequence for providing false information is as harsh as the consequence for committing the act of sexual harassment itself. The sentence for both violations may include termination of employment with EDS. By adopting a similar sexual harassment policy, including severe penalties, Firestone could provide a “workplace free from sexual harassment and other unlawful behavior” (Ethics and Business Conduct). Research concerning similar court cases and a careful reading of the EEOC Compliance Manual supports the conclusion that Susan Parker was sexually harassed in her workplace.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that Randy Louvenberger used her conversation with him as a deciding factor in the denial of her promotion, she was clearly sexually harassed through the establishment of a hostile environment. If stronger evidence, such as conversations with co-workers regarding the promotion decision, proved that Randy Louvenberger did not promote Susan Parker because of their conversation regarding his comments, Susan Parker could also claim sexual harassment on the quid pro quo basis of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is a severe violation of an individual’s personal rights and of the rights of the people surrounding the victim. Thus, it should be taken seriously and investigated immediately and thoroughly. Not only does sexual harassment create a hostile environment for the company’s employees, it creates an environment which may offend prospective clients and permanently taints the company’s reputation.