Definition and Explanation of the Law
Title VII focuses on treatment of persons at workplaces. It provides definitions and explanations on the different aspects that would be considered as discriminatory. The law further clarifies that discrimination does not just end with actions directed towards an individual it also involves organization set ups that may render the workplace hostile to some individuals based on their orientations in terms of faith, gender, sexual, race, and color among others. The article further describes different forms of discriminatory harassment, with a highlight to sexual harassment. Under Title VII, sexual harassment is inclusive of any practices that range from request for sexual favor to creation of conditions and environment that are harsh to people of either gender, which also includes the harassment of same sex. The article further gives guidelines on the different courses of action that an individual who is sexually harassed could take, and how the organization could use its disciplinary system to ensure the same does not happen again.
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Alex was employed in organization X as an operations manager. Organization X’s core business was sewing and knitting of pullovers. He was enthusiastic in reducing wastage of time and resources and proposed to his seniors that they purchased a more modern knitting machine. His arguments convinced the seniors who purchased the modern machine. Alex organized for training of the existing staff to get training on how to use the machine and maximize the organizational performance. Serge had been working as the chief machine attendant at X for five years at that time. He had been acclaimed for his good work and he liked it. During training, Alex noticed that Loise was quicker to learn and even operate the new machines. She was new and among the lowest rank. Once the training was over, Alex decided to let Serge retain the role of chief machine attendant, and Loise took a lower rank as just a machine attendant. Loise decided to seek clarification because everyone had seen that she was performing better that anyone else. She wondered why she could not be given the responsibility to manage the machines but Alex called her to his office and said, “This is a man’s job, Loise. Your soft hands should not be exposed to these moving machines. I would feel hurt if anything happened to you! Let Serge do the job.” He then dismissed Serge and added, “Maybe we could see where else you could fit in over coffee?” As he said so, he started caressing Loise’s hand. This was the second time Alex had approached Loise in a seductive way. The first time Alex had commented on Loise’s dress, claiming that it really fit her and ‘brought out the woman on her physique’. Although Loise did not report the case, she talked to Alex in private and told him she would file a report if anything like that was repeated. After the present case, Loise jerked out of Alex’s office and reporte the matter to the human resource manager. She felt that Alex had sexually harassed her by his comments and caress on her hands.
Loise could have reported the case to either the union, or to the human resource manager. Other employees could have accused the organization of not providing adequate measures to protect employees from sexual harassment. The organization had no choice but seek for an amicable solution that satisfied every employee.
Risks Company Exposed
Organization X risks losing a lot of credence depending on the course of action that Loise would take. It is the responsibility of the organization and its structures to protect its employees from all the possible sources of discrimination and ensure that employees work in a serene environment. Loise was right to report the matter to the human resource manager and poor handling of the case would result into a loss of an employee, Alex, Loise and also a bad image for the organization. First, if X did not handle the case in a way that satisfied her, she could have moved to the next level and report to EEOC. This would lead to a legal process that would have taken away both Loise and Alex from their jobs, thus the organization lose money in the process. Secondly, any case that is taken to EEOC shows that the organization does not have adequate structures to deal with sexual harassment. It taints the organizational image and usually leads to bad reputation, especially if the case was to go public. If Loise decided to end the case internally, the organization was indebted to her to ensure that the case was settled amicably and in a way that it would not be revived in future. It would mean that the organization risks some money as they pay off the damages caused by one of their managers, although they should recover the money from Alex, who was the offender. The amicable solution should also be satisfactory to the rest of the employees because failure to achieve this would mean that some employees would be disgruntled and would feel insecure since other people could sexually prey on them. This case exposed the entire organization into a risk of losing credence of protecting its employees from bad managers.
Course of Action
The current case involved individuals working in the same organization. Alex was Loise’s senior and sexually harassed her. There were several ways that the case could have been solved. First, the organization has its own disciplinary methods for sexual harassment cases. Every organization should have clear policy on the ways through which they would deal with such incidents. A policy framework should not only protect sexual harassment, but should also protect the entire workforce from any form of discrimination. Loise had the first choice to report the case to the human resource manager. Secondly, she could have reported the case to the employee union. This is usually a better and softer way to deal with issues that are considered to be mild. Loise might have taken it as a serious case because it involved physical touch, and the fact that it was occurring for a second time. However, since she did not report the first case, she might still consider to present the case to the workers union group which both Alex and herself would be members by the virtue that they were employed by organization X. Most unions have their disciplinary channels in such cases as Loise’s and they would have possibly provided an answer in the present case. Finally, Loise could have filed a case with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is a body that ensures that there is equality and there is absolutely no discrimination at workplaces. Since Alex was Loise’s senior, she could have filed against organization X as having been sexually harassed and discriminated against based on her gender. Ideally, a senior employee acts on behalf of the organization they work for and any violation that they commit may be regarded as having been committed by the organization they represent. In this case, Loise could have filed against the organization with EEOC within 180 days since the occurrence of the incident, but is also advisable to file the case immediately. Furthermore, she could have filed a private court case against Alex. However, it is often advised that one filed such a case with EEOC and legal courts as well.
Measures to be taken by Organization X
Organization X could carry out several actions to ensure that sexual predation and harassment does not recur at workplace. Taking into account that Alex was one of their best performing managers, they had to balance between punishment and retaining him. However, there was need to ensure that the case was never repeated in future. Secondly, they had to ensure that Loise did not prefer further litigation which would tarnish the name of the organization. To settle the case, therefore, Alex would be made to apologize to Loise in writing and promise never to repeat her again. Secondly, he would be required to compensate her in monetary terms, which would be about quarter the amount he would be required to pay in case the case was reported to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Alex lost the case. These steps would appeal to Loise and Alex as well, because they would both not incur litigation costs. Furthermore, a meeting highlighting the decisions and proceedings of the case between Alex and Loise would be called, explaining to the entire workforce that one of the employees had suffered because of their bad conduct. However, to avoid humiliating Alex and Loise, their names would be withheld. At the same time, the employee union in X would be involved in determining the state of sexual harassment. Through their leaders, the members would be well advised on the importance of avoiding sexual harassment at work. The company managers would also read out the policy to the employees, just to remind them that they were bound by the law to adhere certain standards that included total avoidance to sexual harassment.
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