318: Professional Ethics
Outline of Schultz Essay
THESIS: Popular view of what constitutes harassment is both too narrow (does not count enough) and too broad (includes things that should not be included). "The problem isn't sex but sexism."
CURRENT APPROACH IS TOO NARROW: Prohibitions against unwanted SEXUAL behavior makes it look like we've done enough. But most harassment aimed at keeping women out of male jobs does not take a sexualized form. Denial of training is sexual harassment, but there is not "sexual" contact involved.
ALSO TOO BROAD: Through over-reaction, leads to policies that prevent any relationships between co-workers.
The ORIGINS of the specific phrase "sexual harassment" arose from the problem of quid pro quo ("something for something") harassment -- the linking of workplace benefits to unwanted sexual activity.
When there is no claim of quid pro quo harassment, the U.S. courts have generally made it difficult to win a case that alleges HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT directed at women in male-dominated work environments.
It is also too narrow in ignoring the problem of male-on-male harassment.
The law is too broad because it sometimes leads to punishment of anyone who introduces "sexual" conversation, communication, or interaction. However, this is a mistake. The actual problem is UNWANTED and HOSTILE behavior. Other companies adopt policies that do not permit employees of different sex from working together alone.
Last updated April 15, 2008