Sexual Harassment Essay, Research Paper
Sexual Harassment can take many forms; including a request for sexual favors; unwelcome sexual advances towards others, verbal, physical, or foreseeable conduct of a sexual nature towards people. This illegal conduct could occur in houses, or public places, hotels, restaurants, and can most often occur in the workplace. Employers, especially in the service industries, should pay careful attention to complaints by employees about customer conduct. An employer can be held liable under Title VII, for customer harassment if it fails to remedy or prevent a customer-created hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
· The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex
· The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee
· The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct
· Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim
· The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome
In the case of Lockard v. Pizza Hut, Inc. (10th Cir. 1998) 162 F.3d 1062, a waitress sued Pizza Hut and its franchisee under Title VII for hostile work environment sexual harassment. While waiting tables, Lockard was harassed by two male customers. On a number of occasions, Lockard had informed her manager that she felt uncomfortable waiting on these men. One night, after Lockard seated the men, one of the men told Lockard that she “smelled good” and pulled her hair. Lockard immediately informed her manager and asked that he find someone else to serve them. The manager told Lockard “You wait on them. You were hired to waitress. You waitress.” When Lockard returned to wait on the customers, one of the customers grabbed her by the hair and put his mouth on her breast. Lockard immediately informed her manager of the incident and quit.
At trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Lockard against both Pizza Hut and the franchisee. Pizza Hut filed post-trial motions claiming Lockard could not hold Pizza Hut liable for customer-created hostile work environment. The trial court agreed.
The Tenth Circuit reversed the trial court and ruled that employers could be vicariously liable under Title VII for acts of harassment by customers. The court reasoned that the proper focus of a hostile work environment inquiry is whether the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult. Thus, the court reasoned an employer who condones or tolerates the creation of such an environment should be held liable, regardless of whether a supervisor, co-employee, or a non-employee creates the environment.
Accordingly, the court held that an employer may be liable for customer harassment if it fails to remedy or prevent a customer-created hostile work environment, of which it knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known. An employer who condones or tolerates the creation of such an environment can be held liable, regardless of whether a supervisor, co-employee, or a non-employee creates the environment. An employer may be liable for customer harassment if it fails to remedy or prevent a “customer-created” hostile work environment in which it knew about, or should have known.
Implications of Lockard v. Pizza Hunt, Inc. Employers have an obligation to employees to pay careful attention to complaints by employees about customer/employee conduct. Employers should update policies to ensure that they have effective, well-established, well-distributed policies for addressing and correcting sexual harassment. Employers should train their employees in recognizing and preventing sexual harassment by co-workers and customers. Employers should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated by anyone regardless of gender. They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Statutes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the employment provisions of the country’s landmark civil rights legislation. Today, EEOC also enforces the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC COMPLIANCE MANUAL states: An employer may be responsible for the acts of non- employees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the workplace, where the employer (or its agents or supervisory employees) knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. In reviewing these cases the Commission will consider the extent of the employer’s control and any other legal responsibility which the employer may have with respect to the conduct of such non-employees. Reporting offensive behavior to employers or local authority can be done in person or through the person designated to handle Sexual Harassment complaints. When taking someone under a sexual harassment charge and following the proper procedures, justice will be served.
Sexual harassment is very common in our world today. It occurs in houses, public places, hotels, and restaurants, but most often in the workplace. It is important to recognize when sexual harassment occurs and to confront the person making these unwanted sexual advances. Just as important, confronting your employer on their responsibilities of creating and maintaining a safe work environment between employees and customers. Reporting offensive behavior to employers or local authority can be done in person or through the person designated to handle Sexual Harassment complaints. When taking someone under a sexual harassment charge and following the proper procedures, justice will be served.
Bennett-Alexander, D. D., & Pincus, L. B. (1998). Employment law for business (2nd ed.) [UOP Special Edition Series]. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Lockard v. Pizza Hunt, Inc. (10th Cir. 1998) 162 F.3d 1062
EEOC COMPLIANCE MANUAL
TITLE 29–LABOR PART 1604–GUIDELINES ON DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE