Sexual Harassment in Global Human Resource Management

“Sexual Harassment has been pointed out as the most increasing, widespread problem faced by women in the workforce (Kadue & Lindeman, 1997). ” Therefore, I will write to you about what sexual harassment is and what constitutes it, where the United States and other countries stand on this issue (the global view), types of sexual harassment, how to identify it, major problems related to sexual harassment, disciplinary actions the offender may face, and affects sexual harassment may have on the victim.

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature. “Women bring about 85 percent of all sexual harassment charges (Scarborough & Zimmerer, 2006). ” “A recent study found that retaliation claims occur in 47 percent of sexual harassment cases (Scarborough & Zimmerer, 2006). Following are a few items that constitute sexual harassment: submitting to or rejecting conduct is an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment; submitting to or rejecting the conduct is a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual; the conduct unreasonably interferes with an individuals work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, Shaw, 1999). In the past, the things that constituted sexual harassment were very vague. Due to this, when attorneys were in pursuit of their evidence, they had to be very aggressive. The behaviors associated with sexual harassment include threats or coercion which are linked to tangible job benefits and/ or those which involve unwanted gestures, unwanted touching or physical contact (Backstrom & McDonald, 2008). ” Looking at sexual harassment globally, cultures differ in the type of behavior that is acceptable between the sexes and there seems to be considerable possibility of misunderstanding when employees of diverse cultures and genders meet in the workplace (Hardman, Heidelberg and Talbot, 1996). Behavior that Americans consider unacceptable is likely to occur in countries where the sexes are not equal under the law in society (Hardman et al. , 1996). ” There are just a few countries that have laws against sexual harassment. “As of 1992, only Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, and the United States had regulations in place (Hardman et al. , 1996). ” “One of the things mitigating the workplace approach to harassment in Germany was the structure of labor relations (Dobbin, 2006). “There the industrial relations system was collaborative rather than top-down, which meant that directives have to be worked out at the level of workplace Works Council (Dobbins, 2006). ” In America’s legal system, companies banned flirting and office romance because they were concerned about the courts banning them. “The French saw excessive Puritanism in the American approach, and so French feminists first won a law with a limited definition of harassment as abuse of power by someone in an official capacity (Dobbins, 2006)”.

France made a 2002 revision of the law that made sexual harassment equal to moral harassment and violence, but they didn’t do it by inheriting American ideas. France separated harassment from Puritanism and then connected it with other types of psychological violence. “Employees in Germany and Italy do not necessarily have to have cause to fire employees who engage in sexual harassment, even if employees violate company policy (Maatman, 2000). ” “Employers who terminate harassers may be forced to pay them termination indemnities (Maatman, 2000). “In Spain and Thailand, labor law concepts based on termination indemnity provisions allow employees to terminate their employment relationships due to sexual harassment. In turn, termination indemnity laws require employers to pay employees substantial severance pay if the cause of their termination

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is sexual harassment (Maatman, 2000). ” “Venezuelan law prohibits sexual harassment by virtue of enactment of the Law on Violence against Women and Family. The new law establishes the crime of sexual harassment, as well as penalties for its violation (Maatman, 2000). The crime that someone might serve for sexual harassment is three to 12 months in prison. Also, the offender has to pay the victim double the amount of accumulative damage that caused the sexual harassment along with access to positions and promotions. Employers are held responsible for monetary penalties; individual supervisors could go to jail. “Executives are potentially liable, and the company may have to cover a harasser’s costs (Maatman, 2000). ” “The mandatory termination indemnity laws of many foreign countries–as well as the potential for steep fines and even jail terms for employees who cross he line–should give employers entering the international arena some pause. Businesses that establish offices overseas can face extensive liability exposure for ill-advised personnel decisions and unsound loss-control protocols (Maatman, 2000). “Sound implementation of personnel policies and practices aimed at combating sexual harassment can help minimize these risks. Proactive HR administration can preserve corporate reputation and brand image, enhance recruiting and retention of a competitive workforce and avoid violation of international sexual harassment laws (Maatman, 2000).

To reduce incidents, companies should brief expatriates on regulations in regards to male and female behavior at work. When harassment takes place in an overseas establishment, it is less clear whose standards should apply – those of the host country or those of the home country (Hardman et al. , 1996). “If freedom from unwanted sexual advances or overtly discriminatory behavior is considered a universal human right, then firms should protect this right in their operations worldwide (Hardman et al. , 1996). ” “U. S. ased corporations must be aware that their American employees have the statutory right to sue for this discrimination occurring throughout the world (Maatman, 2000). ” “Applicants, workers and terminated employees who are U. S. citizens and are subjected to discriminatory practices anywhere in the world may file a discrimination charge against their U. S. employers (Maatman, 2000). ” There is no easy answer to the problem of sexual harassment and the misunderstanding that can occur across many different cultures.

There are two types of sexual harassment that are recognized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the courts (Philips, 1997). They are as follows: Quid Pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment. Quid Pro quo (this for that) happens when an employee makes it clear to a manager or supervisor that his or her sexual demands are unwanted and as a result of that loses an economic benefit, such as employment, an increase in salary or employment. Only managers and supervisors, not coworkers, can engage in quid pro quo harassment (Scarborough & Zimmerer, 2006).

A hostile environment sexual harassment is a sexual discrimination and the harassment must be harsh enough to alter the victim’s employment conditions and create an abusive work area. A hostile environment usually requires a pattern of offensive sexual behavior rather than a single, isolated remark or display (Scarborough & Zimmerer, 2006). “Most sexual harassment charges arise from claims of a hostile environment (Scarborough & Zimmerer, 2006). ” “Some experts believe male-dominated workplaces are likely to be the most hostile to women (Zwettler, 1997). Management can enforce a policy against sexual harassment. This policy should first, clearly define what behaviors constitute sexual harassment, secondly, State in clear language that harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace, thirdly, identify the responsibilities of supervisors and employees in preventing harassment and lastly, spell out steps to take in reporting an incident of sexual harassment (Scarbourough and Zimmerer, 2006). The effects of sexual harassment differ from person to person.

It depends on how severe and how long the harassment went on. Victims of severe or chronic sexual harassment can suffer the same mental effects as someone who has been raped. Some of the health and psychological effects of sexual harassment are relocating to another city, another job, or another school, loss of career, absenteeism, and stress in relationships, decreasing work and school performance, guilt, headaches, feeling violated, eating disorders, having angry feelings towards the harasser and many more.

In summary, some things you need to remember if you are being harassed is don’t quit your job, act quickly, get support from your coworkers, ridicule the harasser, use your union grievance procedures, notify the company, keep a diary, and find other victims (Moore & White, 1997). Preventing sexual harassment is the best solution, and the key to prevention is educating employees about what constitutes sexual harassment (Scarbourough and Zimmerer, 2006). Training programs are designed to raise employees’ awareness of what might be offensive to other workers and how to avoid sexual harassment altogether (Scarbourough and Zimmerer, 2006).

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