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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. There are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo, which means “this for that,” involves a person with power over someone else who uses that power to either benefit or harm a person based on his or her willingness to participate in or tolerate some form of sexual behavior. A hostile work environment exists when an individual is exposed to conduct that is sexual in nature, severe and/or pervasive, and unwelcome or unwanted; a power imbalance may or may not exist.   

Assignment:  Read each scenario below, and then in a 400-word document (100 words per scenario) that explains each scenario and determines whether each constitutes sexual harassment, and explain why or why not.  Be sure to utilize what you have learned about sexual harassment this week, and cite your sources on your reference page. You should have a title page, reference page, and 400 words in the body of your paper. 

Scenario 1
Mary and Bill work in the same department and have known each other for over a year. Mary and Bill are friendly, but nothing romantic has occurred between them. One day, Mary asks Bill if he would like to go out after work.

Scenario 2
Charles is attracted to his coworker, Shelly, but Shelly is unaware of the attraction. He tells her one morning, “You look really nice today.”

Scenario 3
At a company party, employees are called up individually to receive year-end bonuses. Susan is shocked to discover that whereas the men in her department receive cash, she and her female coworkers receive flowers.

Scenario 4
Adam and a coworker are looking at a sexually explicit Web site. Someone walks in and sees the Web site. That person is offended and reports the incident to Adam’s supervisor, who never tells Adam about the complaint. The person walks into Adam’s office three more times in the next several months and again sees sexually explicit material on Adam’s screen. The person never tells Adam that he is offended.

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