Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is legally defined as "unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment" (Walsh). Verbal or written examples include comments about clothing, personal behavior, or a person's body; sex-based jokes, and requesting sexual behaviors.

What one person finds to be offensive may not be offensive to another. Is it wrong to tell someone they look pretty on a daily basis? One might say no, but if the compliment is unwelcome and makes the individual uncomfortable, it could be defined as sexual harassment. It is pretty common for co-workers to email each other at work.

These emails sometimes include jokes, or notes of a sexual nature. What one person might think to be funny could be offensive to someone else and if it gets in the wrong hands could also be grounds for sexual harassment.

Thousands of high school students and college graduates will enter workplaces that have more policies and programs dealing with sexual harassment than ever before. It seems as if the hard lessons are still learned through firsthand experience. Youth, combined with inexperience, make new workers vulnerable targets, especially young women. Young women are hesitant to call attention to questionable behavior out of fear of losing their job, retaliation or confusion about where to draw the line between sexuality in the workplace and sexual harassment.

Employees want so bad to impress their employers and move up in the workplace, and it becomes hard to judge that line, leaving individuals victims of sexual harassment.

In Detroit last year, a jury awarded $ 20 million to a female plant worker who claimed Daimler Chrysler AG didn't stop 7 years of dirty jokes and nasty remarks from colleagues (Clark). Why did it take 7 years for the female to come forth? It could have been that she was scared to lose her job, or some argue that she saw opportunity. Another example of this was when the words "sexual harassment" was mentioned in a business law and ethics class at Michigan State University students protested, "I can't even ask a girl out!"

Sexual Harassment is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. It used to be that women were the only victims of sexual harassment. All women are at some risk of sexual harassment, but males are also likely to be targeted if they seem vulnerable and appear to reject the male stereotype (Uggen).

Many young women are better educated on harassment, but still confused about the gray areas, or where the line can be drawn. Many don't want to be labeled as "troublemakers", but some think that people are just oversensitive. If a woman is mature enough to behave professionally, then that behavior will be returned in kind (Burnette). "American Moral Philosophy." Encyclopedia of Ethics.

Vol. 1. 2001.

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