Workplace Sexual Harassment Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Sexual Harassment

Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Legal and Psychological Overview

Workplace Sexual Harassment, as delineated in the text by Anne C. Levy, & Michele A. Paludi (2001) is a complex issue, marrying human psychology and human sexual and cultural assumptions with the daily demands of the business environment, an environment that can be stressful for everyone where personal relations are concerned. This is why Part I of the text explains not only the American legal system regarding sexual harassment and employment law. It also looks at sexual harassment from a psychological perspective, how women have been perceived in the modern, American workplace. The two perspectives are married in many legal instances. For instance, in terms of setting what the courts have variously considered harassment, the courts have eventually evolved what is called a 'reasonable person' standard as to what constitutes harassment. This has changed and evolved, however, as cultural norms regarding masculinity and femininity have changed and evolved. It has also been challenged by the 'reasonable woman' standard of what constitutes sexual harassment, given the different socializations of the genders regarding sexuality. (Levy & Paludi, 2001)

Part II of Levy and Paludi's text offers case studies centering on the establishment and enforcement of an effective workplace policy statement prohibiting harassment and the enforcement of grievance procedures for investigating complaints. Although both authors acknowledge that personality conflicts between employees will occasionally occur, regardless of the gendered makeup of the workplace, they stress that sexual harassment has occurred when an individual is prevented from doing his or her job to the fullest potentiality of his or her ability because of the actions of another employee. Another form of harassment is when an employee is prevented, because of harassing policies regarding gender, that are constructed by the department in an official and unofficial fashion and make it difficult for women to adequately move up in the corporation's hierarchy, according to salary and promotion, in a way commensurate with other employees, such as policies regarding having children or family leave. Again, the 'reasonable person standard' is the most significant standard, legally, used to judge what constitutes harassment merely general unpleasantness in terms of emotional attitude, and a distinction between necessary company safety and social regulations and regulations intended to discriminate.

Levy and Paludi stress that the law should not become the first and only recourses of those individuals experiencing forms of sexual harassment in the workforce. In fact, these authors devote a section in their text as to how a comprehensive education program for existing employees and a training program for new staff members can help to prevent sexual harassment even before it begins. Role-playing and the discussion of sexual assumptions can help to diffuse major and minor tensions between workplace colleagues and participants, hopefully, although the authors do admit that at times individuals within the context of such programs may be less than candid. Again, the authors stress that an astute understanding of an evolving workplace psychology of positive gender perceptions is key increasing not only awareness but also openness. It is also necessary to create an official in-house workplace policy as well as…

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Works Cited

Levy, Anne C. & Michele Pauldi. (2001) Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. New York: Prentice Hall.

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