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What is the legal definition of sexual harassment?

EEOC defines workplace sexual harassment as unsolicited sexual conduct or advances of a sexual nature which arbitrarily obstructs the performance of an individual’s job or creates a hostile, offensive or the intimidating working environment. Sexual harassment ranges from tenacious invasive sexual jokes to unfitting touching to posting of offensive content on a notice board. Sexual harassment is a widespread phenomenon which affects both men and women at work. 

There are federal and state laws that protect employees from sexual harassment at their place of work. In fact, sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination in the workplace, which protected by EEOC. It is classified under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. States have developed sexual harassment laws which are even harsher as compared to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are two types of sexual harassment, quid pro quo form of harassment and a hostile work environment. In the case of quid pro quo, a person at a higher rank, maybe a supervisor, demands that the staff tolerate sexual harassment so as to keep their jobs, get some benefits such as raises and promotion. An employee requires just a single claim to prove that there is a quid pro quo kind of harassment. 

A hostile work environment harassment needs action when the behavior is unwelcome based on sex which may be severe to create an abusive working environment (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, n.d). 

What investigation process should Elora Jean & Co. have engaged in when the claims were first made? Why will that be important to the defense of the EEOC charge?

Elora Jean & Co should have done three things. First, it should have put in place a sexual harassment policy and thereafter communicated it to all the employees in a way that they will all understand. Having the policy will be the first form of defense for Elora Jean & Co. Secondly, Elora Jean & Co should have set out a reporting procedure for those that experience sexual harassment at the place of work. They should state that each complaint has to be examined and investigated in a detailed way. In most cases, an officer from the Human Resource Department should be assigned the task of investigating sexual harassment complaints. Lastly, Elora Jean & Co ought to have kept a complaints record for the allegations made by the employees and the investigation carried out by the company officers. Having this records will be a good defense against the EOCC charges. Lastly, Elora Jean & Co must have taken steps to carefully observe the supervisors behavior so that the company can record hi harassment behavior so that action can be taken against him. If Elora Jean & Co would have followed such steps, then the company would have had a strong defense against the EOCC charges. 

What is the legal liability for Elora Jean & Co. if the EEOC investigation finds the charge to be factual with employer knowledge of the events? Consider the options of mediation versus litigation with regard to organizational cost.

If the EOCC finds out that the charge is factual with the employer knew of the events that prompted the employee to file the complaint, the company will be held responsible for such punitive actions, however, “An employer’s liability for sexual harassment depends on the harasser’s position in the company or workplace, and the kind of sexual harassment being 

What elements would you recommend be included in a sexual harassment policy?

The elements that I will recommend that they should be included in the sexual harassment policy include;

First, there should be a clear definition of sexual tolerance and displayed in a place where employees can read it and understand what it really means. 

Zero Tolerance, The policy should be in black and white. Sexual harassment should be completely outlawed in the workplace. Employees will, therefore, feel uncomfortable even just thinking about a fellow employee in sexual terms. 

They should include examples of what constitutes sexual harassment. 

Duty to report. Employees should be reminded that whenever sexual harassment occurs, they should report it to the right management authority so as the action can be taken. 

Retaliation: As sexual harassment is a power move where the supervisor advances to the subordinates, those who report should know that they are protected from future retaliation by the supervisor. If it will not be included in the report, then it will scare off the employees from reporting. 

Confidentiality: When one reports about sexual embarrassment, he or she feels embarrassed so the company must promise them that there shall be the highest degree of confidentiality unless it is to the law enforcement agencies. 

Lastly, there will be the complaint procedure. Employees should be informed about the procedure they will follow when a case of sexual harassment occurs. The investigation procedure should be detailed to take care of any eventualities that may arise (Brady, 2006). 

What should Elora Jean & Co. do to prevent this type of charge in the future?

The most operational weapon against sexual harassment is prevention. It is even true that when Elora Jean & Co does not address the problem, then it will deteriorate. The company needs to employ a number of policies and ways to prevent sexual harassment. The first one is the introduction of Anti-harassment policies. Communicate with the staff so that they understand what harassment is and warn them that it shall not and never be tolerated. The anti-harassment policy should also set out a reporting procedure in case a sexual harassment case arises. 

The second mechanism is anti-harassment raining. In this case, the company should train its employees. It will also help the employees who are being harassed to come forward and report. In fact, in the United States, the courts hold that employers who respond quickly to cases of harassment and prevent such acts from happening again will not be liable as much as those who do nothing to prevent the situation from repeating. The organization should offer training and provide information about harassment in the place of work (Barreiro, n.d). 

Lastly, the company should encourage employees who have feelings for each other to sign the consensual agreement. It will mean that they will enter into the romantic relationships willingly and thus cases of sexual harassment will decline immensely. They should be acquainted with the company policy so as not to make any mistakes while entering the agreement (Letke, 2016). 

Research and briefly summarize a recent case of sexual harassment that was won by the employee. Provide information relating to the financial outcome of the case.

The case involved a cleaner who was harassed sexually. Two co-workers, a male and a female, organized the staff to appear as if there was a sex romp. They then set up the cleaner and the room was set up with clothes, alcohol bottles and a condom that had a fluid. The cleaner saw what happened and was disturbed that he will clean human fluid. He also learned that those who had been involved had used the school premises to satisfy their desires He thought of speaking to one of the staff members. At that point, the male colleague who was part of the hoax informed him that it was just a hoax. 

It was resolved that setting up the room in such a manner was an act of sexual harassment. The tribunal held that because the conduct was directed to the cleaner then it was in relation to him. The tribunal also determined that it was an act of sexual harassment when the male coworker invited the cleaner to snuffle at the boxer’s shorts and the colleague informed the staff in a nearby shop that they had organized a prank. The tribunal established that the cleaner had been victimized. It was also determined that that male colleague tried to photograph him and shown his middle finger to his wife and children while at school. 

The cleaner was faced with acute apprehension because of the hoax and for an entire month, he was not in a position to work. The cleaner suffered an adjustment condition with depression and anxiety and his psychological disorder turned to a post-traumatic s9ress condition. It, therefore, became a problem for him to concentrate and sleep with frequent fatigue, obsessive thinking, rapid heart rate, stomach and eating problems, depressed mood, feeling hopeless and anxious and spells of crying. He was incapacitated to work for 2 years and only came back to work as a part-time employee. According to the tribunal, the cleaner will be unable to return to full work until two years elapse. The tribunal examined the case and discussed for some time, taking into consideration various cases including the one of Richardson v Oracle. They also involved the requirements of QCAT act and they realized that despite the awarded amounts increasing, they were not so rampant like in Richardson’s case. 

The tribunal finished by determining that they should employ some consistency as related to the Queensland court awards regarding cases of personal injury. Where personal injury cannot be determined, the court had to use Richardson’s case to increase the penalty. The court considered previous awards and factored in inflation. The tribunal concluded by awarding the cleaner $156,051 which was composed of;

Non-financial loss (pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and the offence, embarrassment, humiliation and intimidation suffered): $70,000 

Future loss of superannuation: $5,467

Past loss of superannuation: $1,656

Interest on non-financial loss: $3,160

Future cost of treatment: 10,000

Future loss of income: $48,338

Past loss of income (gross): $17,430 (Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, 2016).

What implications does the Civil Rights Act of 1991 have for employers?

The civil rights act was enacted by Congress on November 21, 1991. Congress wanted to correct around seven decisions made by the Supreme Court some of which were thought of as changing the backdrop of discrimination law. And doubting the existing precedent. Therefore, the Act amended various statutes that were previously enforced by EOCC, both procedurally and substantively. Formerly, bench tribunals were only probably only in cases that were brought under the ADEA or EPA. In the provisions of the Act, parties were now able to obtain trials and recover punitive and compensatory damages I ADA and Title VII lawsuits that involve international discrimination. This act also placed limits on the amount of compensation that can be given to cover for damages and punitive actions and also allowed that compensation should be based on the size of the firm. In this case, employers were helped a great deal because the compensation awarded will not lead to the collapse of the company because the company size will be factored. Maximum award was fixed at $300,000 and therefore despite the nature of the damage, a plaintiff cannot be awarded more than that amount. This amount was for the largest companies with more than 500 employees (EOCC, n.d). Under the act, employees were also allowed to build persuasive cases which are based on facts. Employer’s burden of proof was made clear that he should provide evidence that outweighs that of the plaintiff. 

What are your overall recommendations for the owner with regard to preparing a response to the EEOC charge?

Elora Jean & Co must examine if they have any policies regarding sexual harassment in their place of work. If their policy is good, they should then present it to EOCC. Additionally, if they have a verbal communication that was made to employees as a warning for them not to involve in any form of sexual harassment, the text and date of communication should be presented to EOCC as evidence. 

Another point of concern is whether the management knew about the harassment or not. If they did not know, it will be a source of defense but if they knew, it will create more problems for the company. In addition, the employee complained to the supervisor’s immediate superior. The company should establish whether the supervisor superior carried out any investigations in reference to the harassment case. Does the superior deny or accept receiving any complaints from the employee? The way the company handles this cases can either be a defense or create a problem for the company. Elora Jean & co should now prepare a complaint procedure and policy and sent them to EOCC. Lastly, Elora Jean & Co should request EOCC that it wishes to engage in mediation so as to minimize the damage.  

  

References

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d). Sexual Harassment.  https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

Brady, B. (2006). 8 elements your sexual harassment policy must have… and why just having a

strong policy isn’t enough. com/2006/06/18/8-elements-your-sexual-harassment-policy-must-have-and-why-just-having-a-strong-policy-isn-t-enough/”>http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2006/06/18/8-elements-your-sexual-harassment-policy-must-have-and-why-just-having-a-strong-policy-isn-t-enough/

Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland. (2016). Sexual Harassment Case Studies: A

Prank was Sexual Harassment. https://www.adcq.qld.gov.au/resources/case-studies/sexual-harassment-case-studies

EOCC. (n.d). The Civil Rights Act of 1991.  https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/1990s/civilrights.html

Barreiro, S. (n.d). Preventing Sexual Harassment in the workplace. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/preventing-sexual-harassment-workplace-29851.html

Letke, A. (2016). Steps to Prevent Sexual Harassment in The Workplace.  https://integrityhr.com/hrblog/7-steps-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace/

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