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Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment may be illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making. In contrast, many scholars complain that sexual harassment in education remains a "forgotten secret," with educators and administrators refusing to admit the problem exists in their schools, or accept their legal and ethical responsibilities to deal with it (Dziech, 1990).
- 1 Early history of the use of the term
- 2 Harassment situations
- 3 Varied behaviors
- 4 Retaliation and backlash
- 5 Effects of sexual harassment and the (often) accompanying retaliation
- 6 The effect of the organization on sexual harassment
- 7 Evolution of sexual harassment law
- 8 Varied legal guidelines and definitions
- 8.1 United States
- 8.2 Australia
- 8.3 Czech Republic
- 8.4 Denmark
- 8.5 France
- 8.6 India
- 8.7 Israel
- 8.8 Pakistan
- 8.9 Philippines
- 8.10 Poland
- 8.11 Russia
- 8.12 Switzerland
- 8.13 United Kingdom
- 9 Debates
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 For further reading
- 13 Sexual harassment in media and literature
- 14 Notes
- 15 External links
Early history of the use of the term
The term sexual harassment was used in 1973 by Dr Mary Rowe in a report to the then President and Chancellor of MIT about various forms of gender issues. (See Saturn's Rings, 1974). Rowe has stated that she believes she was not the first to use the term, since sexual harassment was being discussed in women's groups in Massachusetts in the early 1970s, but that MIT may have been the first or one of the first large organizations to discuss the topic (in the MIT Academic Council), and to develop relevant policies and procedures. MIT at the time also recognized the injuries caused by racial harassment and the harassment of women of color which may be both racial and sexual. The President of MIT also stated that harassment (and favoritism) are antithetical to the mission of a university as well as intolerable for individuals.
In the book In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (1999), journalist Susan Brownmiller quotes the Cornell activists who in 1975 thought they had coined the term sexual harassment: "Eight of us were sitting in an office ... brainstorming about what we were going to write on posters for our speak-out. We were referring to it as 'sexual intimidation,' 'sexual coercion,' 'sexual exploitation on the job.' None of those names seemed quite right. We wanted something that embraced a whole range of subtle and un-subtle persistent behaviors. Somebody came up with 'harassment.' 'Sexual harassment!' Instantly we agreed. That's what it was." (p. 281). These activists, Lin Farley, Susan Meyer, and Karen Sauvigne went on to form Working Women's Institute which, along with the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion, founded in 1976 by Freada Klein, Lynn Wehrli, and Elizabeth Cohn-Stuntz, were among the pioneer organizations to bring sexual harassment to public attention in the late 1970s.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. Often, but not always, the harasser is in a position of power or authority over the victim (due to differences in age, or social, political, educational or employment relationships). Forms of harassment relationships include:
- The harasser can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger.
- The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it.
- While adverse effects on the victim are common, this does not have to be the case for the behavior to be unlawful.
- The victim can be any gender. The harasser can be any gender.
- The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful. Adapted from the U.S. EEOC definition
- Misunderstanding between Female-Male Communication: It can result from a situation where one thinks he/she is making themselves clear, but is not understood the way they intended. The misunderstanding can either be reasonable or unreasonable. An example of unreasonable is when a man holds a certain stereotypical view of a woman such that he did not understand the woman’s explicit message to stop.(Heyman, 1994)
One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behavior, and is often difficult for the recipient to describe to themselves, and to others, exactly what they are experiencing. Moreover, behavior and motives vary between individual harassers.
Dzeich et al. has divided harassers into two broad classes:
- Public harassers are flagrant in their seductive or sexist attitudes towards colleagues, subordinates, students, etc.
- Private harassers carefully cultivate a restrained and respectable image on the surface, but when alone with their target, their demeanor changes.
Langelan describes three different classes of harassers.
- Predatory harasser who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. This harasser may become involved in sexual extortion, and may frequently harass just to see how targets respond. Those who don't resist may even become targets for rape.
- Dominance harasser: the most common type, who engages in harassing behaviour as an ego boost.
- strategic or **territorial harassers who seek to maintain privilege in jobs or physical locations, for example a man's harassing female employees in a predominantly male occupation.
Types of harassment
There is often more than one type of harassing behavior present, so a single harasser may fit more than one category. These are brief summations of each type.
- Power-player - Legally termed "quid pro quo" harassment, these harassers insist on sexual favors in exchange for benefits they can dispense because of their positions in hierarchies: getting or keeping a job, favorable grades, recommendations, credentials, projects, promotion, orders, and other types of opportunities.
- Mother/Father Figure (a.k.a. The Counselor-Helper) - These harassers will try to create mentor-like relationships with their targets, all the while masking their sexual intentions with pretenses towards personal, professional, or academic attention.
- One-of-the-Gang - Harassment occurs when groups of men or women embarrass others with lewd comments, physical evaluations, or other unwanted sexual attention. Harassers may act individually in order to belong or impress the others, or groups may gang up on a particular target.
- Serial Harasser - Harassers of this type carefully build up an image so that people would find it hard to believe they would do anyone any harm. They plan their approaches carefully, and strike in private so that it is their word against that of their victims.
- Groper - Whenever the opportunity presents itself, these harassers' eyes and hands begin to wander, engaging in unwanted physical contact that may start innocuous but lead to worse.
- Opportunist - Opportunist use physical settings and circumstances, or infrequently occurring opportunities, to mask premeditated or intentional sexual behavior towards targets. This will often involve changing the environment in order to minimize inhibitory effects of the workplace or school or taking advantage of physical tasks to 'accidentally' grope a target.
- Bully - In this case, a harasser uses physical threats to frighten and separate two would be lovers who willfully are engaging with each other. The intent of the harasser can be due to a range of reasons such as jealousy, racism, or their own hidden sexual agendas. Normally the harasser attempts to physically separate the two using their size or threats of physical violence and remains until they are satisfied by the separation or can pursue their own sexual agenda against one of the victims.
- Confidante - Harassers of this type approach subordinates, or students, as equals or friends, sharing about their own life experiences and difficulties, sharing stories to win admiration and sympathy, and inviting subordinates to share theirs so as to make them feel valued and trusted. Soon these relationships move into an intimate domain.
- Situational Harasser - Harassing behavior begins when the perpetrator endures a traumatic event (psychological), or begins to experience very stressful life situations, such as psychological or medical problems, marital problems, or divorce. The harassment will usually stop if the situation changes or the pressures are removed.
- Pest - This is the stereotypical "won't take 'no' for an answer" harasser who persists in hounding a target for attention and dates even after persistent rejections. This behavior is usually misguided, with no malicious intent.
- Great Gallant - This mostly verbal harassment involves excessive compliments and personal comments that focus on appearance and gender, and are out of place or embarrassing to the recipient. Such comments are sometimes accompanied by leering looks.
- Intellectual Seducer - Most often found in educational settings, these harassers will try to use their knowledge and skills as an avenue to gain access to students, or information about students, for sexual purposes. They may require students participate in exercises or "studies" that reveal information about their sexual experiences, preferences, and habits.
- Incompetent - These are socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, who do not reciprocate these feelings. They may display a sense of entitlement, believing their targets should feel flattered by their attentions. When rejected, this type of harasser may use bullying methods as a form of revenge.
- Stalking - Persistent watching, following, contacting or observing of an individual, sometimes motivated by what the stalker believes to be love, or by sexual obsession, or by anger and hostility.
- Unintentional - Acts or comments of a sexual nature, not intended to harass, can constitute sexual harassment if another person feels uncomfortable with such subjects.
Sexualized environments (aka environmental harassment)
Sexualized environments are environments where obscenities, sexual joking, sexually explicit graffiti, viewing Internet pornography, sexually degrading posters and objects, etc., are common. None of these behaviors or objects may necessarily be directed at anyone in particular or intended as harassment. However, they can create an offensive environment, and one that is consistent with "hostile environment sexual harassment".
Rituals and initiations
Sexual harassment can also occur in group settings as part of rituals or ceremonies, such as when members engage newcomers in abusive or sexually explicit rites as part of hazing or initiation. Such traditions have historically taken place in arenas of male or female bonding, such as team sports, fraternities, and sororities.
Retaliation and backlash
Retaliation and backlash against a victim are very common, particularly a complainant. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labeled troublemakers who are on their own power trips, or who are looking for attention. Similar to cases of rape or sexual assault, the victim often becomes the accused, with their appearance, private life, and character likely to fall under intrusive scrutiny and attack. They risk hostility and isolation from colleagues, supervisors, teachers, fellow students, and even friends. They may become the targets of mobbing or relational aggression.
Women are not necessarily sympathetic to female complainants who have been sexually harassed. If the harasser was male, internalized sexism, and/or jealousy over the sexual attention towards the victim, may encourage some women to react with as much hostility towards the complainant as some male colleagues. Fear of being targeted for harassment or retaliation themselves may also cause some women to respond with hostility. For example, when Lois Jenson filed her lawsuit against Eveleth Taconite Co., the women placed a hangman's noose above her workplace, and shunned her both at work and in the community—many of these women later joined her suit.(Bingham et al. 2002) Women may even project hostility onto the victim in order to bond with their male coworkers and build trust.
Retaliation has occurred when a sexual harassment victim suffers a negative action as a result of the harassment. For example, a complainant be given poor evaluations or low grades, have their projects sabotaged, be denied work or academic opportunities, have their work hours cut back, and other actions against them which undermine their productivity, or their ability to advance at work or school. They may be suspended, asked to resign, or be fired from their jobs altogether. Moreover, a professor or employer accused of sexual harassment, or who is the colleague of a perpetrator, can use their power to see that a victim is never hired again, or never accepted to another school. Retaliation can even involve further sexual harassment, and also stalking and cyberstalking of the victim.
"I am ashamed of what I tell them: that they should indeed worry about making an accusation because what they fear is likely to come true. Not one of the women I have heard from had an outcome that was not worse for her than silence. One, I recall, was drummed out of the school by peer pressure. Many faced bureaucratic stonewalling. Some women said they lost their academic status as golden girls overnight; grants dried up, letters of recommendation were no longer forthcoming. No one was met with a coherent process that was not weighted against them. Usually, the key decision-makers in the college or university—especially if it was a private university—joined forces to, in effect, collude with the faculty member accused; to protect not him necessarily but the reputation of the university, and to keep information from surfacing in a way that could protect other women. The goal seemed to be not to provide a balanced forum, but damage control."
Another woman who was interviewed by Helen Watson, a sociologist, reported that, "Facing up to the crime and having to deal with it in public is probably worse than suffering in silence. I found it to be a lot worse than the harassment itself." (Watson, 1994)
Effects of sexual harassment and the (often) accompanying retaliation
Effects of sexual harassment can vary depending on the individual, and the severity and duration of the harassment. Often, sexual harassment incidents fall into the category of the "merely annoying." However, many situations can, and do, have life-altering effects particularly when they involve severe/chronic abuses, and/or retaliation against a victim who does not submit to the harassment, or who complains about it openly. Indeed, psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault. (Koss, 1987) For example, in 1995, Judith Coflin committed suicide after chronic sexual harassment by her bosses and coworkers. (Her family was later awarded 6 million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages.) Backlash and victim-blaming can further aggravate the effects. Moreover, every year, sexual harassment costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost educational and professional opportunities, mostly for girls and women. (Boland, 2002)
Common effects on the victims
Common professional, academic, financial, and social effects of sexual harassment:
- Decreased work or school performance; increased absenteeism
- Loss of job or career, loss of income
- Having to drop courses, change academic plans, or leave school (loss of tuition)
- Having one's personal life offered up for public scrutiny—the victim becomes the "accused," and his or her dress, lifestyle, and private life will often come under attack.
- Being objectified and humiliated by scrutiny and gossip
- Becoming publicly sexualized (i.e. groups of people "evaluate" the victim to establish if he or she is "worth" the sexual attention or the risk to the harasser's career)
- Defamation of character and reputation
- Loss of trust in environments similar to where the harassment occurred
- Loss of trust in the types of people that occupy similar positions as the harasser or his or her colleagues
- Extreme stress upon relationships with significant others, sometimes resulting in divorce; extreme stress on peer relationships, or relationships with colleagues
- Weakening of support network, or being ostracized from professional or academic circles (friends, colleagues, or family may distance themselves from the victim, or shun him or her altogether)
- Having to relocate to another city, another job, or another school
- Loss of references/recommendations
Some of the psychological and health effects that can occur in someone who has been sexually harassed: depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks, sleeplessness and/or nightmares, shame and guilt, difficulty concentrating, headaches, fatigue or loss of motivation, stomach problems, eating disorders (weight loss or gain), alcoholism, feeling betrayed and/or violated, feeling angry or violent towards the perpetrator, feeling powerless or out of control, increased blood pressure, loss of confidence and self esteem, withdrawal and isolation, overall loss of trust in people, traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts or attempts, suicide.
Effects of sexual harassment on organizations
- Decreased productivity and increased team conflict
- Decrease in success at meeting financial goals (because of team conflict)
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Loss of staff and expertise from resignations to avoid harassment or resignations/firings of alleged harassers; loss of students who leave school to avoid harassment
- Decreased productivity and/or increased absenteeism by staff or students experiencing harassment
- Increased health care costs and sick pay costs because of the health consequences of harassment
- The knowledge that harassment is permitted can undermine ethical standards and discipline in the organization in general, as staff and/or students lose respect for, and trust in, their seniors who indulge in, or turn a blind eye to, sexual harassment
- If the problem is ignored, a company's or school's image can suffer
- Legal costs if the problem is ignored and complainants take the issue to court.(Boland 1990)
The effect of the organization on sexual harassment
Studies show that organizational climate (an organization’s tolerance, policy, procedure etc.) and workplace environment are essential for understanding the conditions in which sexual harassment is likely to occur, and the way its victims will be affected (yet, research on specific policy and procedure and awareness and prevention strategies is lacking).another element which increases the risk for sexual harassment is the job’s gender context (having few women in the close working environment or practicing in a field which is atypical for women).
According to Dr. Orit Kamir, the most effective way to avoid sexual harassment in the work place, and also influence the public’s state of mind, is for the employer to adopt a clear policy prohibiting sexual harassment and to make it very clear to their employees .Many women prefer to make a complaint and to have the matter resolved within the workplace rather than to “air out the dirty laundry” with a public complaint and be seen as a traitor by colleagues, superiors and employers, adds Kamir. See also: Rowe,Mary "People Who Feel Harassed Need a Complaint System with both Formal and Informal Options," in Negotiation Journal, April, 1990, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 161–172., and Rowe,Mary, "Dealing with Harassment: A Systems Approach," in Sexual Harassment: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, Women & Work, Vol. 5, Margaret Stockdale, editor, Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 241–271. Most prefer a pragmatic solution that would stop the harassment and prevent future contact with the harasser rather than turning to the police. More about the difficulty in turning an offence into a legal act can be found in Felstiner & Sarat’s (1981) study, which describes three steps a victim (of any dispute) must go through before turning to the justice system: naming – giving the assault a definition, Blaming – understanding who is responsible for the violation of rights and facing them, and finally, claming – turning to the authorities. In sexual offences there is great difficulty for the victims to go through these steps, and the closer the relationship between victim and assailant; the harder it is to take each step.
Evolution of sexual harassment law
In the US, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin or religion. Initially only intended to combat sexual harassment of women, the prohibition of sex discrimination covers both females and males. This discrimination occurs when the sex of the worker is made as a condition of employment (i.e. all female waitpersons or male carpenters) or where this is a job requirement that does not mention sex but ends up barring many more persons of one sex than the other from the job (such as height and weight limits).
Barnes v. Train (1974) is commonly viewed as the first sexual harassment case in America, even though the term "sexual harassment" was not used. In 1976, Williams v. Saxbe established sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination when sexual advances by a male supervisor towards a female employee, if proven, would be deemed an artificial barrier to employment placed before one gender and not another. In 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued regulations defining sexual harassment and stating it was a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 1986 case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court first recognized "sexual harassment" as a violation of Title VII, established the standards for analyzing whether the conduct was welcome and levels of employer liability, and that speech or conduct in itself can create a "hostile environment". The Civil Rights Act of 1991 added provisions to Title VII protections including expanding the rights of women to sue and collect compensatory and punitive damages for sexual discrimination or harassment, and the case of Ellison v. Brady resulted in rejecting the reasonable person standard in favor of the "reasonable woman standard" which allowed for cases to be analyzed from the perspective of the complainant and not the defendant. Also in 1991, Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. became the first sexual harassment case to be given class action status, paving the way for others. Seven years later, in 1998, this case would establish new precedents for setting limits on the "discovery" process in sexual harassment cases, and allowing psychological injuries from the litigation process to be included in assessing damages awards. In the same year, the courts concluded in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, Florida, and Burlington v. Ellerth, that employers are liable for harassment by their employees. Moreover, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services set the precedent for same-sex harassment, and sexual harassment without motivation of "sexual desire", stating that any discrimination based on sex is actionable so long as it places the victim in an objectively disadvantageous working condition, regardless of the gender of either the victim, or the harasser.
In the 2006 case of Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, the standard for retaliation against a sexual harassment complainant was revised to include any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.
During 2007 alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and related state agencies received 12,510 new charges of sexual harassment on the job 
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (United States) states "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
In Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court held that private citizens could collect damage awards when teachers sexually harassed their students. In Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986) the courts ruled that schools have the power to discipline students if they use "obscene, profane language or gestures" which could be viewed as substantially interfering with the educational process, and inconsistent with the "fundamental values of public school education." Under regulations issued in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Education, which administers Title IX, school districts should be held responsible for harassment by educators if the harasser "was aided in carrying out the sexual harassment of students by his or her position of authority with the institution." In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, and Murrell v. School Dist. No. 1, 1999, schools were assigned liability for peer-to-peer sexual harassment if the plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated that the administration's response shows "deliberate indifference" to "actual knowledge" of discrimination.
Evolution of sexual harassment law in other jurisdictions
In India, the case of Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan in 1997 has been credited with establishing sexual harassment as illegal. In Israel, the 1988 Equal Employment Opportunity Law made it a crime for an employer to retaliate against an employee who had rejected sexual advances, but it wasn't until 1998 that the Israeli Sexual Harassment Law made such behavior illegal. (Kamir, 2005)
In May 2002, the European Union Council and Parliament amended a 1976 Council Directive on the equal treatment of men and women in employment to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace, naming it a form of sex discrimination and violation of dignity. This Directive required all Member States of the European Union to adopt laws on sexual harassment, or amend existing laws to comply with the Directive by October 2005.
In 2005, China added new provisions to the Law on Women's Right Protection to include sexual harassment. In 2006 "The Shanghai Supplement" was drafted to help further define sexual harassment in China.
Varied legal guidelines and definitions
The United Nations General Recommendation 19 to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women defines sexual harassment of women to include:
"such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as physical contact and advances, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions. Such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem; it is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile working environment."
While such conduct can be harassment of women by men, many laws around the world which prohibit sexual harassment recognize that both men and women may be harassers or victims of sexual harassment. However, most claims of sexual harassment are made by women.
There are many similarities, and also important differences in laws and definitions used around the world. After covering one country in some detail (the United States), approaches in other countries are covered alphabetically.
There are a number of legal options for a complainant in the U.S.: mediation, filing with the EEOC or filing a claim under a state Fair Employment Practices (FEP) statute (both are for workplace sexual harassment), filing a common law tort, etc. Not all sexual harassment will be considered severe enough to form the basis for a legal claim. However, most often there are several types of harassing behaviors present, and there is no minimum level for harassing conduct under the law.(Boland, 2002) Many more experienced sexual harassment than have a solid legal case against the accused. Because of this, and the common preference for settling, few cases ever make it to federal court. The section below describes the legal definitions that have been created for sexual harassment in the workplace. Similar definitions have been created for academic environments in the U.S. Department of Education Sexual Harassment Guidance.
In 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission produced a set of guidelines for defining and enforcing Title VII (in 1984 it was expanded to include educational institutions). The EEOC defines sexual harassment as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
1. Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment,
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
3. 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.
1. and 2. are called "quid pro quo" (Latin for "this for that" or "something for something"). They are essentially "sexual bribery", or promising of benefits, and "sexual coercion".
Type 3. known as "hostile work environment," is by far the most common form. This form is less clear cut and is more subjective.
Note: a workplace harassment complainant must file with the EEOC and receive a "right to sue" clearance, before they can file a lawsuit against a company in federal court. (Boland, 2002)
Quid pro quo sexual harassment
Quid pro quo means "this for that". In the workplace, this occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if he or she will go out on a date with him or her, or tells an employee he or she will be fired if he or she doesn't sleep with him or her. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee's submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.
Hostile environment sexual harassment
This occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, unwelcome physical contact, or offensive sexual materials as a regular part of the work environment. For the most part, a single isolated incident will not be enough to prove hostile environment harassment unless it involves extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts will try to decide whether the conduct is both "serious" and "frequent." Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment. Probably the most famous hostile environment sexual harassment case to date is Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. which inspired the movie North Country (film).
The line between "quid pro quo" and "hostile environment" harassment is not always clear and the two forms of harassment often occur together. For example, an employee's job conditions are affected when a sexually hostile work environment results in a constructive discharge. At the same time, a supervisor who makes sexual advances toward a subordinate employee may communicate an implicit threat to retaliate against her if she does not comply.
"Hostile environment" harassment may acquire characteristics of "quid pro quo" harassment if the offending supervisor abuses his authority over employment decisions to force the victim to endure or participate in the sexual conduct. Sexual harassment may culminate in a retaliatory discharge if a victim tells the harasser or her employer she will no longer submit to the harassment, and is then fired in retaliation for this protest. Under these circumstances it would be appropriate to conclude that both harassment and retaliation in violation of section 704(a) of Title VII have occurred."
Retaliation has occurred when an employee suffers a negative action after he or she has made a report of sexual harassment, file a grievance, assist someone else with a complaint, or participate in discrimination prevention activities. Negative actions can include being fired, demotion, suspension, denial of promotion, poor evaluation, unfavorable job re-assignment—any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.(See Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White) Retaliation is as illegal as the sexual harassment itself, but also as difficult to prove. Also, retaliation is illegal even if the original charge of sexual harassment was not proven.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 defines sexual harassment as "... unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated."
Undesirable behavior of a sexual nature at the workplace if such conduct is unwelcome, unsuitable or insulting, or if it can be justifiably perceived by the party concerned as a condition for decisions affecting the exercise of rights and obligations ensuring from labor relations.
Sexual harassment is defined as, when any verbal, non-verbal or physical action is used to change a victim's sexual status against the will of the victim and resulting in the victim feeling inferior or hurting the victim's dignity. Man and woman are looked upon as equal, and any action trying to change the balance in status with the differences in sex as a tool, is also sexual harassment. In the workplace, jokes, remarks, etc., are only deemed discriminatory if the employer has stated so in their written policy. Women are viewed as being responsible for confronting harassment themselves, such as by slapping the harasser in the face. Law number 1385 of December 21, 2005 regulates this area.
Article 222-33 of the French Criminal Code describes sexual harassment as, "The fact of harassing anyone using orders, threats or constraint, in order to obtain favors of a sexual nature, by a person abusing the authority that functions confer on him..." This means the harasser can only be someone with authority on the harassed (basically, there can't be sexual harassment between coworkers of the same rank). However, moral harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to repeated acts (one is not enough) the aim or effect of which may result in a degradation (deterioration) of his conditions of employment that might undermine his rights and his dignity, affect his physical or mental health or jeopardize his professional future. Sexual as well as the moral harassment is recognized by the law.
Sexual harassment in India is termed "Eve teasing" and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as sexually coloured remarks; physical contact and advances; showing pornography; a demand or request for sexual favours; any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature. The critical factor is the unwelcomeness of the behaviour, thereby making the impact of such actions on the recipient more relevant rather than intent of the perpetrator. According to India's constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. Although there is no specific law against sexual harassment at workplace in India but many provisions in other legislations protect against sexual harassment at workplace, such as Section 354, IPC deals with “assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, and Section 509, IPC deals with “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
The 1998 Israeli Sexual Harassment Law interprets sexual harassment broadly, and prohibits the behavior as a discriminatory practice, a restriction of liberty, an offence to human dignity, a violation of every person's right to elementary respect, and an infringement of the right to privacy. Additionally, the law prohibits intimidation or retaliation that accommodates sexual harassment. Intimidation or retaliation thus related to sexual harassment are defined by the law as "prejudicial treatment". (Kamir, 2005)
Pakistan has adopted a Code of Conduct for Gender Justice in the Workplace that will deal with cases of sexual harassment. The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment At workplace (AASHA) announced they would be working with the committee to establish guidelines for the proceedings. AASHA defines sexual harassment much the same as it is defined in the U.S. and other cultures.
The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 was enacted "primarily to protect and respect the dignity of workers, employees, and applicants for employment as well as students in educational institutions or training centers. This law, consisting of ten sections, provides for a clear definition of work, education or training-related sexual harassment and specifies the acts constituting sexual harassment. It likewise provides for the duties and liabilities of the employer in cases of sexual harassment, and sets penalties for violations of its provisions. It is to be noted that a victim of sexual harassment is not barred from filing a separate and independent action for damages and other relief aside from filing the charge for sexual harassment." 
There is no special provision in the employment law that provides for moral or sexual harassment; however it is commonly accepted by the jurisprudence, that sexual harassment occurs when the employee is subjected to acts of another person in order to obtain favours of a sexual nature. Moral harassment occurs when en employee is subjected to acts which may result in a deterioration of his conditions of employment or undermine his rights and dignity as well as affect his physical or moral health. These definitions are not legal ones, but definitions accepted by the jurisprudence.
In the Criminal Code, Russian Federation, (CC RF), there exists a law which prohibits utilization of an office position and material dependence for coercion of sexual interactions (Article 118, current CC RF). However, according to the Moscow Center for Gender Studies, in practice, the courts do not examine these issues.
A ban on discrimination was included in the Federal Constitution (Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the old Federal Constitution) in 1981 and adopted in Article 8, paragraph 2 of the revised Constitution. The ban on sexual harassment in the workplace forms part of the Federal Act on Gender Equality (GEA) of 24 March 1995, where it is one of several provisions which prohibit discrimination in employment and which are intended to promote equality. Article 4 of the GEA defines the circumstances, Article 5 legal rights and Article 10 protection against dismissal during the complaints procedure. Article 328, paragraph 1 of the Code of Obligations (OR), Article 198 (2) of the Penal Code (StGB) and Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Employment Act (ArG) contain further statutory provisions on the ban on sexual harassment. The ban on sexual harassment is intended exclusively for employers, within the scope of their responsibility for protection of legal personality, mental and physical well-being and health.
Article 4 of the GEA of 1995 defines sexual harassment in the workplace as follows: “Any behaviour of a sexual nature or other behaviour attributable to gender which affronts the human dignity of males and females in the workplace. This expressly includes threats, the promise of advantages, the application of coercion and the exercise of pressure to achieve an accommodation of a sexual nature.”
The Discrimination Act of 1975, was modified to establish sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in 1986. It states that harassment occurs where there is unwanted conduct on the ground of a person's sex or unwanted conduct of a sexual nature and that conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. If an employer treats someone less favourably because they have rejected, or submitted to, either form of harassment described above, this is also harassment.
Though the phrase "sexual harassment" is generally acknowledged to include clearly damaging and morally deplorable behavior, its boundaries can be broad and controversial. Accordingly, misunderstandings can abound. Moreover, sexual harassment law has been highly criticized by experts, such as Alan Dershowitz and Eugene Volokh, for imposing on the right to free speech. Some feminist groups criticize sexual harassment policy as helping maintain archaic stereotypes of women as "delicate, asexual creatures" who require special protection. Camille Paglia, for example says that young girls can end up acting in such ways as to make sexual harassment easier, such that for example, by acting "nice" they can become a target. Paglia commented in an interview with Playboy, "Realize the degree to which your niceness may invoke people to say lewd and pornographic things to you--sometimes to violate your niceness. The more you blush, the more people want to do it."
Sexual harassment policy and legislation have been criticized as attempts to "regulate romance" which goes against human urges. Other critics assert that sexual harassment is a very serious problem, but current views focus too heavily on sexuality rather than on the type of conduct that undermines the ability of women or men to work together effectively. Viki Shultz, a law professor at Yale University comments, "Many of the most prevalent forms of harassment are designed to maintain work-particularly the more highly rewarded lines of work-as bastions of male competence and authority." Feminist Jane Gallop sees this evolution of the definition of sexual harassment as coming from a "split" between what she calls "power feminists" who are pro-sex (like herself) and what she calls "victim feminists," who are not. She argues that the split has helped lead to a perversion of the definition of sexual harassment, which used to be about sexism but has come to be about anything that's sexual. (Gallop, 1997)
There is also concern over abuses of sexual harassment policy, and employers and administrators using accusations as a way of expelling employees they want to eliminate for other reasons. (Westhues, 1998).
There is also discussion of whether some recent trends towards more revealing clothing and permissive habits have created a more sexualized general environment, in which some forms of communication are unfairly labeled harassment, but are simply a reaction to greater sexualization in everyday environments.
There are many debates about how organizations should deal with sexual harassment. Some observers feel strongly that organizations should be held to a zero tolerance standard of "Must report - must investigate - must punish."
Others write that those who feel harassed should in most circumstances have a choice of options. See "Workplace Justice, Zero Tolerance, and Zero Barriers," 2001, by Mary Rowe and Corinne Bendersky, in Negotiations and Change, From the Workplace to Society, Thomas Kochan and Richard Locke (editors), Cornell University Press, 2002; Mary Rowe in "Dealing with Harassment: A Systems Approach," in Sexual Harassment: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, Women & Work, Vol. 5, Margaret Stockdale, editor, Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 241–271; Mary Rowe, "People Who Feel Harassed Need a Complaint System with both Formal and Informal Options," in Negotiation Journal, April, 1990, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 161–172; Mary Rowe, "Dealing with Harassment: A Systems Approach," in Sexual Harassment: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, Women & Work, Vol. 5, Margaret Stockdale, editor, Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 241–271. Sexual harassment, by definition, is unwanted and not to be tolerated but there often are a number of effective ways for offended and injured people to deal with harassment.
- Catharine MacKinnon
- Employment discrimination
- Hostile environment sexual harassment
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual harassment in education
- Workplace bullying
- Disciplinary counseling
- London Anti-Street Harassment Campaign
- American Association of University Women. Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School. AAUW, 2002.
- American Association of University Women. Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus. AAUW,2006.
- Bingham, Clara, Gansler, Laura Leedy. Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law. New York, Anchor Books, 2002.
- Boland, Mary L. Sexual Harassment: Your Guide to Legal Action. Naperville, Illinois: Sphinx Publishing, 2002.
- Dziech, Billie Wright, Weiner, Linda. The Lecherous Professor: Sexual Harassment on Campus. Chicago Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1990.
- Gallop, Jane. Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment. Duke University Press, 1997.
- Harper, Colin. My Uncontrollable Urges. Bridge Publications, 1998.
- Harper, Colin. Why I can't take 'no' for an answer... Bridge Publications, 2001
- Heyman, R. (1994). Why Didn't You Say That in the First Place? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
- Kamir, Orit. "Israel's 1998 Sexual Harassment Law: Prohibiting Sexual Harassment, Sexual Stalking, and Degradation Based on Sexual Orientation in the Workplace and in all Social Settings." International Journal of Discrimination and Law, 2005, 7 , 315-336.
- Koss, Mary P. "Changed Lives: The Psychological Impact of Sexual Harassment." in Paludi, Michele A. ed. Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment On Campus. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1987.
- Langelan, Martha. Back Off: How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers. Fireside, 1993
- Patai, Daphne. Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.
- Rowe,Mary "People Who Feel Harassed Need a Complaint System with both Formal and Informal Options," in Negotiation Journal, April, 1990, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 161–172.
- Rowe,Mary, "Dealing with Harassment: A Systems Approach," in Sexual Harassment: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, Women & Work, Vol. 5, Margaret Stockdale, editor, Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 241–271.
- Rowe, Mary & Corinne Bendersky, "Workplace Justice, Zero Tolerance, and Zero Barriers," 2001, in Negotiations and Change, From the Workplace to Society, Thomas Kochan and Richard Locke (editors), Cornell University Press, 2002.
- Rowe, Mary, "Saturn's Rings," a study of the minutiae of sexism which maintain discrimination and inhibit affirmative action results in corporations and non-profit institutions; published in Graduate and Professional Education of Women, American Association of University Women, 1974, pp. 1–9. "Saturn's Rings II" is a 1975 updating of the original, with racist and sexist incidents from 1974 and 1975. An excerpt appears in the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, Volume 50, No. 1 (Sept./Oct. 1975), pp. 14–18. A more complete version appears in Bourne, Patricia and Velma Parness, eds., Proceedings of the NSF Conference on Women's Leadership and Authority, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, 1977, also reprinted in Comment, Vol. 10, No 3 (March 1978), p. 3. Also revised and republished as "The Minutiae of Discrimination: The Need for Support," in Forisha, Barbara and Barbara Goldman, Outsiders on the Inside, Women in Organizations, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1981, Ch. 11, pp. 155–171.
- Watson, Helen. "Red herrings and mystifications: Conflicting perceptions of sexual harassment," in Brant, Clare, and Too, Yun Lee, eds., Rethinking Sexual Harassment. Boulder, Colorado, Pluto Press, 1994.
- Westhues, Kenneth. Eliminating Professors: A Guide to the Dismissal Process. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.
- Roberts S., Barry Mann A., Richard- "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: A PRIMER"
For further reading
- Directions in Sexual Harassment Law. R. B. Siegel, co-editor. MacKinnon, Catherine. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 2004.
- Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment On Campus. Paludi, Michele A. ed. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1987.
- Sexual Harassment : A Practical Guide to the Law, Your Rights, and Your Options for Taking Action. O'Shea, Tracy, and LaLonde, Jane. St. Martin's Griffin, 1998.
- Sexual Harassment of Working Women : A Case of Sex Discrimination. MacKinnon, Catherine. Yale University Press, 1979
- Sexual Harassment on the Job: What It Is and How to Stop it. Petrocelli, William, and Repa, Barbara Kate. NOLO, 1998
- The Updated and Expanded 9to5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment : Candid Advice from 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. Bravo, Ellen, and Cassedy, Ellen. The 9to5 Fund, 1999.
- Swift, James T. 2010 "Exploring Capital Metro’s Sexual Harassment Training Using Dr. Bengt-Ake Lundvall’s Taxonomy of Knowledge Principles". Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 326. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/326
Sexual harassment in media and literature
- The Ballad of Little Jo: film based on the true story of a woman living in the frontier west who disguises herself as a man to protect herself from the sexual harassment and abuse of women all too common in that environment.
- Disclosure: a film starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore in which a man is sexually harassed by his female superior, who tries to use the situation to destroy his career by claiming that he was the sexual harasser.
- Disgrace: a novel about a South African literature professor whose career is ruined after he has an affair with a student.
- Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story: television movie about Ellison v. Brady, the case that set the "reasonable woman" precedent in sexual harassment law.
- In the Company of Men: film about two male coworkers who, angry at women, plot to seduce and maliciously toy with the emotions of a deaf subordinate who works at the same company.
- Les Miserables: a novel by Victor Hugo, and later several film adaptations. During the early stages of the story, Fantine is fired from her job after refusing to have sex with her boss.
- The Magdalene Sisters: film based on the true stories of young women imprisoned for "bringing shame upon their families" by being raped, sexually abused, flirting, or simply being pretty, and subsequently subjected to sexual harassment and abuse by the nuns and priests in the Magdalene asylums in Ireland.
- Nine to Five: film comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, about three women who are subjected to constant bullying and sexual harassment by their boss.
- North Country: film depicting a fictionalized account of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., the first sexual harassment class action lawsuit in the U.S.
- Oleanna: an American play by David Mamet, later a film starring William H. Macy. A college professor is accused of sexual harassment by a student. The film deals with the moral controversy as it never becomes clear which character is correct.
- Pretty Persuasion: film starring Evan Rachel Wood and James Woods in which students turn the tables on a lecherous and bigoted teacher. A scathingly satirical film of sexual harassment and discrimination in schools, and attitudes towards females in media and society.
- War Zone: documentary about street harassment.
- Sexual Harassment Panda, an episode of South Park, parodies sexual harassment in schools and the lawsuits which result from lawyers and children using the vague definition of sexual harassment in order to win their lawsuits.
- Sexual Harassment In The Workplace, an instrumental minor-key blues by Frank Zappa, from the album Guitar
- Sexual Harassment In the Workplace: A Primer by Barry S. Roberts and Richard A. Mann
- Paludi, Michele Antoinette; Barickman, (1991). Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment. SUNY Press. pp. 2–5. ISBN 0791408299.
- Dziech et al. 1990, Boland 2002
- Sexual harassment too often leads to humiliation for victims
- Effects of Sexual Harassment
- Dealing With Sexual Harassment
- Sexual harassment retaliation, backlash, and victim blaming
- The Silent Treatment
- Common Effects of Sexual Harassment
- Sexual Harassment: Myths and Realities
- StopVAW: Effects of Sexual Harassment
- Psychosocial and Organizational Factors: Sexual Harassment
- Sexual harassment bad for victims and for business June 22, 2005
- Sexual harassment: Poisoning profit prospects August 10, 2005
- For Help with the Handling of Harassment
- CHELSEA R. WILLNESS & PIERS STEEL & KIBEOM LEE, A META-ANALYSIS OF THE ANTECEDENTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT , PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY 2007
- קמיר אורית, "החוק הישראלי למניעת הטרדה מינית- איפה אנחנו במלואת לו עשור?
- W. L. Felstiner, R. L. Abel & A. Sarat, “The Emergence and Transformation of Dispute: Naming, blaming, Claiming…”, 15 Law & Society Rev. (1980-1981)
- The Sad Evolution of Sexual Harassment October 27, 2004
- Sexual Harassment Law: A Brief Introduction KMB Legal
- Sexual Harassment Guidance
- Sexual Harassment and Rape Laws in India
- Domestic Legal Framework November 1, 2003
- China to outlaw sexual harassment
- China Daily
- U.S. EEOC statistics
- What to Do if You or Someone You Know is Sexually Harassed
- The Law & Your Job: What is quid pro quo harassment?
- Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
- The Law & Your Job: What is hostile environment harassment?
- Policy Guidance on Current Issues of Sexual Harassment 03/19/90
- Employment Law in Each Country
- Denmark Law
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in France and in the United States Spring 1997
- ICFAI University -- Workplace Harassmaent
- AASHA - (Pakistan) Alliance Against Sexual Harassment
- Full text of the Philippine Anti Sexual Harassment Law
- Sexual Harassment in Russian Workplaces - Sexual Harassment Support Forum
- Strathclyde Regional Council v Porcelli  IRLR 134 Court of Session
- Sexual Harassment: what the law says
- Freedom of Speech vs. Workplace Harassment Law
- Feminism and Free Speech
- Playboy interview, Camille Paglia May 1995
- Sexual Harassment: The employer's role in prevention
- Love, Lust, and the Law Sexual Harassment in the Academy
- 'Save the males': Ho culture lights fuses, but confuses, By KATHLEEN PARKER, NY Daily News, June 30th 2008. Based on "Save the Males" by Kathleen Parker, Copyright 2008, Random House, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group.
- U.S. Dept. Of Education Sexual Harassment Resources
- Committee for Children: Bullying and sexual harassment in schools
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