Legalities and Politics

In addition to looking at the nature of the act, it is also important to look into the circumstances surrounding the case to make a better judgment of the case. First, there is the issue of the age difference between Vonda and Bill. Vonda is more than 20 years older than Bill. Though this is not exactly bad, this may be questioned to be outside the norms of society. People would ask why a young man would want to have a relationship with a woman who was more than 20 years his senior and who is noted to be not very attractive. Then, there were also the differences in personality. Bill was ambitious and aggressive in getting what he wants.

Vonda, on the other hand, was shy and retiring. Another thing to consider is the social or financial background of both parties. Vonda is at a more powerful position in the firm and therefore earns more money than Bill who was just starting at the bottom of the corporate ladder. Recall that this difference is financial background was one of Bill’s reasons for pursuing Vonda. Next, we consider the duration, frequency, and intensity of the affair. The affair lasted for three years. If it is true that Vonda has sexually harassed Bill, how come it took Bill three years to file the harassment complaint?

In addition, they had a torid affair. Therefore, sexual intercourse was done frequently over the course of three years. If Bill was really harassed by Vonda’s sexual attentions, how come he did not report the harassment after the first sexual intercourse? It should also be taken into consideration that when the court asked for evidences that would prove the said sexual harassment, Bill could not produce any. There was no solid evidence and the “witness” did not really catch Bill and Vonda in flagrante delicto. Finally, it should also be noted that the firm has taken immediate steps to address the sexual harassment complaint.

In addition to having policies regarding sexual harassment, the firm took Vonda out of her position when the complaint was made. Arguments. After establishing the facts of the case, we now go to the main arguments that would make a clear stand about the issues raised at the beginning of this paper. First argument, Vonda is not guilty of sexual harassment may it be on the basis of a quid pro quo or a hostile work environment. The case does not fall under the definition of a quid pro quo because Vonda made no promise of any job benefits in exchange for sexual favors.

In fact, it was Bill who pursued Vonda and had the intention of using her to get promoted. Therefore, there was no explicit demand for sexual favors on the part of Vonda. She had no intentions of having any sexual relationship with Bill before he pursued her. In addition, Bill received no work-related gains during and after the relationship. This was even the main reason why he filed a sexual harassment complaint. The lack of reward and his failure to achieve his ulterior motives frustrated him and led him to spitefully blame Vonda.

Finally, this case could not fall under quid pro quo because at no point did Vonda use her authority at work to favor or threaten Bill. Moreover, the case also does not fall under the definition of a hostile work environment because there was no evidence that actual encounters of a sexually inappropriate nature were reported or seen by co-workers. This argument is strengthened by the lack of a witness to the alleged sexual harassment. In addition, the relationship was more or less kept private. There were no public displays of affections that might have offended anyone.

Finally, Vonda’s personality background precluded overt and or indiscreet or scandalous behavior; she was in fact known to be a tireless worker, shy, introverted, and retiring. Second argument, the firm cannot be held liable for the case. In quid pro quo harassment, the law states that the employer can only be held liable if a “tangible employment action is taken against the employee as a result of quid pro quo sexual harassment … even if they did not know about the harassment until afterwards” (“Employment Labor”). This means that the employee’s refusal or acceptance of a supervisor’s proposition has affected his job in any way.

Since in Bill and Vonda’s case the act cannot be proven as quid pro quo harassment and since there were no tangible employment action taken against Bill, it therefore excludes the employer from culpability. The firm cannot also be held liable under hostile work environment harassment because the law states that employers can only be held liable “when either their supervisors or agents create a hostile environment, or if the employer knew or should have known of the sexual harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action” (Roberts & Mann, n.

d. ). Since the firm had explicit policies regarding sexual harassment and since it has acted immediately upon the complaint, it is exempted from liability. The last argument in this section: since Bill was obviously using Vonda to get ahead, Vonda is the victim in this case. From the very beginning, Bill’s intention was clearly to use Vonda for personal work gains. He targeted her because of her vulnerable and quality explained previously. Furthermore, when Bill accused Vonda of sexual harassment, he betrayed Vonda’s trust.

She obviously thought he was sincere about their relationship. Vonda’s reputation and credibility also suffered as a result of Bill’s betrayal, and she lost the position she probably worked for years. Although she also benefited from the relationship in one way or another, she probably lost more than Bill did at the end of the relationship. After answering the questions raised at the beginning of the paper, we now go to the ethics of the case. In the succeeding section, the case will be viewed from the perspective of different moral theories. Ethical Viewpoints

From the viewpoint of a utilitarian ethicist, the act (which is described above) is morally wrong because many parties suffered as result of the case. Vonda lost her job. Bill did not get what he wanted in the end. Stapleton Broker lost Vonda who was an asset to the company. In addition, other employees of the company also stand to lose because of the blow the sexual harassment case dealt to the company’s reputation. An ethical egoist, on the other hand, would say that Bill and Vonda’s relationship was morally right. People from this school of thought would argue that both stand to gain from it.

Vonda gained a boost to her self-esteem when a young man suddenly paid her attention, and Bill was only protecting his self-interest, which was to get a job promotion. Ethical relativist would say that the act might be morally right or wrong depending on one’s belief system. If one was raised in a competitive world were aggressiveness was valued, then it is right to advance one’s interest over others. However, if one had a traditional conservative view, taking advantage of another person for the sake of boosting one’s career will be perceived as morally wrong.

Lastly, ethical absolutist would say that Vonda and Bill’s relationship is morally wrong. According to Kantian principles, you do not use people as means to an end (“Immanuel Kant”, 2007, Second Formulation section, para. 1). According to Christian principles, you must love your neighbor and not take advantage of them. My personal stance on this would be the same as Kant’s philosophy. One does not do an act that cannot be applied universally. To decide whether an act is morally right, it must be morally right when applied to all situations. It must be something that one would also want to be done to him.

This is also similar to the golden rule, which says, “Do unto others want you want others to do unto you”. In the case of Bill and Vonda’s relationship, though what Bill did may be perceived as right in certain cases (especially if he did it out of desperation), it is not something that will be perceived as morally right universally. One does not use another as a means to an end. The human being himself should be the end. Therefore, Vonda and Bill’s relationship is morally wrong.


American Bar Association. (2007). The law and your job. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www. html. Employement labor law. (2007). Retrieved August 2, 2007, from http://employment-law. freeadvice. com/sexual_harassment/employer_liable_quid_pro_quo_harassment. Immanuel Kant. (2007).

Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant. Roberts, B. S. & Mann, R. A. (n. d. ) Sexual harassment in the work place: A primer. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www3. uakron. edu/lawrev/robert1. html. U. S. Equal Opportunity Commission. (2007). Sexual harassment. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from http://www. eeoc. gov/types/sexual_harassment. html.