Sexual harassment has been defined as “unwanted and offensive sexual advances or of sexually offensive remarks or acts” which is used to degrade another person in order to feel superior. (Dictionary.com).
The victim and the harasser can be of either sex including harassment from people of the same sex. Often times discrimination is from a supervisor or person of power to a lower status employee. All cases are not subject to these same applications but can be from non-workers or other co-workers. (EEOC). There are many ways in which harassment can be defined. Quid pro quo has already been discussed where the superviosr is the one making advance for a this for that arrangement. Another form is constructive discharge where the victim is made to feel so uncomfortable in the workplace that they are forced to leave. Upon quitting, they would first need to inform the employer of the situation and file that the reason for leaving was discrimination. There is also a law against retaliation which singles out the victim and ridicules them for either refusing the sexual advances or for taking action if the suit is already in the courts. (Wyatt).
Sexual harassment suits started to become more popular after the Anita Hill case. Anita hill was an African American woman who worked for the EEOC and felt that her supervisor was sexually harassing her. This case made more people aware of the situation and soon there were more sexual harassment allegations going to the courts. In the federal court system one out of five suits are for sexual harassment trials. Due to this rise of nearly four times what it was a decade ago, insurance companies now offer “employment practice liability coverage.” This insurance will cover legal fees, damages incurred and settlements made in sexual harassment or discrimination trials. (Economist). Since more people are aware of the popularity of these cases, many decide to settle out of court to avoid high costs in legal fees and personal turmoil for the plaintiffs.
As sexual harassment is getting widely well known in the workplace, men are now taking the stance of the victim in the situation. More men are feeling that their female or male co-workers are discriminating them in the workplace. Most of these cases are of male vs. male discrimination. These cases have grown from 9% in 1992 to 15% in 2003. (Armour). People would think that since these cases have grown so rapidly and so has the occurrence of homosexuals in the workplace that most of the male against male discrimination is also a form of anti-gay movements. However, most of these cases include “macho” behavior between colleagues that often makes one person feel uncomfortable in those situations. This includes discussing personal relationships, comparing physical appearance between workers, and often times what is termed to be macho touching or grabbing by members of the same sex. The statistics have been growing in the past years where now seventeen percent of men say they have been sexually harassed in comparison to thirty five percent of women. (Armour).
Sexual harassment has rapidly spread as a modern social problem in our society. What first started out with the intentions of ridding women in the workplace has escaladed into a national problem of discrimination against all types of people. In order for future generations to not feel the same harassment that is in today’s workplace, awareness needs to be spread throughout the country to better insure that all people know their rights and the consequences of their actions. Now is the time to start the breakdown of discrimination and harassment in the workplace before it spreads to all environments
Sexual harassment is also problem in schools, colleges, and universities. A recent study used college students as mock jurors to decide whether or not attractiveness of the defendant had an affect on the decision of guilt for sexual harassment cases. In this study they found that defendants who were more attractive usually received a more lenient sentence than those who were physically unattractive. The students explained that their reason for thinking that a more attractive person deserved a more lenient sentenced was because they were attractive enough to get any person they wanted and could not be seen as sexually harassing another person. A non-attractive person was seen to have more guilt because along with their physical appearance they were seen to have more emotional and mental conditions that would affect their behavior. (Wuensch). In some situations where the defendant is attractive many feel that the victim is falsely accusing them because they feel sexual tension or intimidation from that person. There are some instances where the victim was really the one who felt an attraction for the other person but after being denied they felt they could get their revenge by accusing the defendant of sexual harassment.