Same Sex Sexual Harassment Term Paper

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Sexual harassment has been an issue of debate for many years. Sexual harassment often exists in the workplace and at educational institutions. The purpose of this discussion is to explore this topic as it relates to same sex sexual harassment. Let's begin our discussion with a definition of sexual harassment.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

According to a book entitled, "Sexual Harassment in America: A Documentary History" "Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC's guidelines define two types of sexual harassment: "quid pro quo" and "hostile environment."(Stein, 1999)

The quid pro quo type of sexual harassment involves sexual advances that are unwelcome, physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors. These actions are seen as quid pro quo harassment when (1) submission to these actions are made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of a person's employment, or (2) submission to or denial of these actions by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual. (Stein 1999) Hostile environment sexual harassment involves "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute "hostile environment" sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment." (Stein, 1999)

Same Sex Sexual harassment

Same Sex harassment is a particularly sensitive subject in the workplace and at educational institutions. According to an article in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, sexual harassment has traditionally been viewed of as occurring between men and women, as men as the perpetrators. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of sexual harassment incidents that have occurred between members of the same sex.

An article in the Washington Times describes a case involving same sex harassment at an equipment maintenance facility. (Sands 1996)

In this particular instance, all the employees were male and the victim of the crime was mentally challenged. The perpetrators continually taunted the victim with suggestive remarks, forced him to simulate oral sex and even placed a condom on his food. (Sands 1996)

This type of harassment is not uncommon and is becoming an even greater issue in the workplace; especially at organizations that are predominately male. This article was published in 1996 and since this time the manner in which same gender harassment is dealt with in the workplace has changed drastically.

Dubois et al. (1998) asserts that Research has broadened the general view of SH to include same-gender SH which involves either a male target and male perpetrator or female target and female perpetrator... More recently the Supreme Court's decision in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. (1998) reshaped the legal view of SH to include same-gender harassment. As noted by the Court,."..nothing in Title VII necessarily bars a claim of discrimination 'because of... sex' merely because the plaintiff and the defendant... are of the same sex.."..Although there is a burgeoning literature that has explored the antecedents and consequences of other-gender SH, very little research on same-gender SH exists. Much of the same-gender research has been limited in scope to simply pointing out that same-gender SH occurs far less frequently than other-gender SH, and that same-gender SH is much more likely to occur between males than females." (Dubois et al. 1998)

Before the decision made in the Oncale case there was no clear way to deal with same sex harassment. For this reason organizations and the courts were forced to deal with same gender harassment in other ways. (Achampong 1999)

Before the Oncale case the federal circuits and district courts were divided on the issue of same sex harassment. (Achampong 1999)

For instance, in "Quick v Donaldson Co., Inc., the Eighth Circuit accepted the actionability of all same-sex sexual harassment claims, regardless of the motivation for the harassment."(Achampong 1999) In this particular case a hostile environment was derivative of physical and verbal harassment suffered by the plaintiff and perpetrated by coworkers. (Achampong 1999)

The harassment consisted of several incidents of what was referred to as "bagging."

Bagging is defined as the squeezing or grabbing of another person's testicles. (Achampong 1999)

When Quick complained about the harassment supervisors took no action. (Achampong 1999) However, two years after the initial incident the employer circulated a memo that prohibited bagging and explained that it was a form of harassment. (Achampong 1999) Once the memo was circulated the bagging ended. However, as a direct result of the harassment, the plaintiff had to undergo medical and psychological treatment. (Achampong 1999)

When this case was brought to trial the upper Court and the lower court had differing opinions concerning what constitutes sexual harassment. Achampong (1999) explains that the upper court said the types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, but that the harassment need not be explicitly sexual in nature nor have explicit sexual overtones....The court also found that the lower court erred in determining that the challenged conduct was not of a genuine sexual nature and therefore not sexual harassment because neither the bagging nor the physical assaults expressed sexual interest. It held the district court's finding that the harassment was not gender-based because the underlying motive was personal enmity or hooliganism to be erroneous, and explained that the proper inquiry is whether members of one sex are subjected to disadvantages, terms, or conditions of employment to which members of the other sex are not. The court found that the record contained no incidents of bagging females, thus raising a genuine issue as to whether the harassment was gender based, and reversed the award of summary judgment to the employer." (Achampong 1999)

Studies conducted concerning Same-Sex Harassment

Dubois et al. (1998) also report that the studies that have been conducted concerning same sex sexual harassment has focused on the types of harassment that happens amongst men and the issues of power that are involved in same sex harassment. Dubois et al. (1998) also reports that recent research has focused on the correlation between same sex sexual harassment and sexual orientation.

The article also points out that most sexual harassment is not sexual at all, but rather it is derivative of the need of the perpetrator to have power over the victim. In fact, "Pryor & Whalen (1997) suggest that power provides a basis for one person to obtain leverage over another, and thereby the means by which the powerful (regardless of gender) impose their will upon the powerless." (Dubois et al. 1998)

In the Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. case that was mentioned earlier, the sexual harassment was hazing related. (Dubois et al. 1998) The article asserts that situational and physical power were the main causes of the same-gender sexual harassment that occurred in the company. (Dubois et al. 1998) The article suggests that individuals are most susceptible to same gender sexual harassment when they are newcomers because they are vulnerable. The article asserts,

Our patriarchal society bestows males with power, and the social definitions of the male gender-role emphasize and sanction aggressive, dominant, and even violent actions. On the other hand, the female gender-role places an emphasis on nurturing and supporting actions. These differences likely explain in part the greater prevalence of same-gender SH among males. Berdahl et al. (1996) propose that targets of SH are more likely to feel harassed by behaviors that result in a perceived loss of control over personal and professional status and security. More specifically, these authors suggest that men feel harassed by behaviors they perceive challenge their masculinity while women feel harassed by behaviors they perceive reinforce their subordinate role in the workplace. Because men tend to wield more power in the workplace, challenges to their masculinity are more likely to come from other men; women usually lack this power." (Dubois et al. 1998)

Studies on the subject of same gender sexual harassment suggest that male-male sexual harassment has a more severe impact upon psychological and job-related outcomes than other forms of sexual harassment. (Dubois et al. 1998)

The article also points out that male-male rape also has more of a devastating impact upon the victim that male-female rape. (Dubois et al. 1998)

Experts believe that sane gender sexual assault and harassment is more devastating to the victim because "targets of same-gender SH may suffer more negative consequences than other-gender targets." (Dubois et al. 1998) The article also points out that organizations must understand these differences in order to deal with same gender sexual harassment appropriately. (Dubois et al. 1998)

Finally, the article discusses a study that investigated the impact of same sex sexual harassment on men and women in the workplace. The study focused the impact that sexual harassment had on physical and psychological well-being, target professional behavior, and profession-related attitudes. (Dubois et al. 1998) The…[continue]

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