In the context of Mary’s case, it is evident from the recorded conversation with frank that there is bullying and coercion of a sexual nature. In fact, there are promises of rewards that frank makes to Mary on condition of sexual favors. This whole situation amounts to sexual harassment that the human resource department should seek to prevent in the workplace setting. For the human resource manager who would be receiving the case such as Mary’s , there is the provision in the law that he/she can take legal action given that sexual harassment charges do not have to be made necessarily by the victim. They can be made by a third party who finds the behavior offending and in this case, the human resource manager can be of fit description.
Sexual harassment should be noted as any behavior that a reasonable victim or person would feel offended, degraded, humiliated and intimidated by the comments. These comments include joking or sharing perspectives on the preferences and practices of workmates sexual lives. In that description lies the comments that Frank made regarding Mary’s association with the client. There are several key elements regarding sexual harassment in the workplace as per the legal view. The behavior should have a sexual element that is not embraced and comfortable towards the person it is directed to (Boland 2005). As a result, the person gets offended, intimidated and humiliated by the behavior as evidenced in Mary’s case when she gets apprehensive.
As is the often the case, the offender is in a po9sition of power over the victim and in the instance of Mary and Frank the situation holds true. The person in power tries to make the other person who is the victim to do something and this disturbs their functioning, as they have to worry about the sexual pressure. Frank tries to use his position as the sales supervisor to acquire sexual favors from his junior a sales associate. From the legal point of view, the human resource manager has the responsibility to comply with the obligations that are put forth by the law. The HR manager in the above scenario should have tried to the level best in remedying the workplace environment especially given that Frank has a reputation of “flirting” with female employees. There is a certain degree that the HR manger may be held liable. In previous rulings like the Ellison v. Brady case, the employer was brought to book because there were several actions that he would have taken to avoid the harasser perpetuating the vice. The court has since then established that the employer should make instantaneous and suitable steps on receiving a complaint that is like Mary’s in nature. While taking the steps to remedy, the situation the employer should not breach the terms and conditions of employment like in the Ellison v. Brady case where the employer transferred the victim to a less suitable working position and location.
In such a case as Mary’s it would amount to a criminal offense for the employer or HR manager to ignore her complaints regarding Frank’s sexual innuendoes and egregious comments. In addition to that it would be a violation of the law for the HR manager to use the same remedial action that he\she has used on Frank before since it is evident that it is not working to deter him from such behavior that he has previously practiced. For instance, the HR manger cannot keep writing warning letters repeatedly for its evident that a stricter measure should be taken. In this case, suspension, demotion as well as termination of the employee should be considered.
In case there arises the need for compensation, several factors will be considered. For example, it is essential to determine the form through which the offense was carried out. Whether the nature of harassment was physical or verbal like in Mary’s case is an important consideration (Achampong 1999). Another aspect that would influence the nature of punishment that Frank will get is the ongoing nature of the sexual harassment behavior that he perpetuates. If the behavior is recurrent, like in Frank’s case, the punishment is more severe.
There are a several measures that the HR manger can encourage the employees to practice to reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment. The employees for instance can be encouraged to act professionally and with confidence that will sent a message of one thinking of sexual harassment that they will not get away with it. In addition its advisable that employees don’t reveal much about their social lives to others. The other measures that can a go along way in preventing the generation of such thoughts are the employees keeping away from soliciting personal favors and to be polite instead of being overfriendly (Boland 2005).
The various legal remedies available are classified as either monetary or non-monetary. The monetary remedies include the payment t to compensate for any losses that occurred. In addition, that may be compensation to emotional damage that may have arisen, whereas the non-monetary remedies may include the injunctive relief that will compel he employer to change workplace practices and bestow certain positions to the victim (Levy & Paludi 2002). This is in respect to the fact the if the employer does not change the practices to address the issue of sexual harassment there is going to be repeated cases in the future and low employee morale.
The legal perspective of the issue has witnessed most victims like Mary seek relief from the established legal statutes. The associated disadvantages in the past were the effects that such cases had on their jobs. Employees seeking legal alternatives are bong to loose their jobs and thus jeopardizing their careers. In a quest to strengthen the law that governed such cases to control even the employers, the Title VII had the Civil right amended. This amendment made the victim able to collect punitive damages from the employer if it were proved that the employer acted recklessly in applying practices that prevent the vice. In addition, if the employer handled the claims with inadequate attention, there can be monetary liabilities that can accrue.
The act enabled the victim to be able to collect damage compensation that is future related in terms of future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconveniences and mental anguish. The amount of damage that can be obtained from the suit is limited to the number of employees that the company has. In connection to that, the Title VII has two recognizable set of grounds for bringing a sexual harassment suit. The first is the quid pro quo that can be applied in the case of Mary and Frank. This is because it involves a person who is a superior to the victim demanding sexual favors in exchange for work related benefits. The victim has the right to take the employer to court even if the employer is an aware of such an occurrence given that the courts follow the doctrine of respondeat superior (Levy & Paludi 2002). This legally implies that the employer is liable to the victim for actions that are carried out by supervisory employees such as Frank.
Another basis for filling as sexual harassment suit is the Hostile Work Environment basis whereby there is the distortion of the normal conducive work place environment by as co-worker or a supervisor who continually engages in unwelcome and very in appropriate sexual oriented behavior. The work place results to an atmosphere that is intimidating and hostile. The essential elements of hostile work environment are; first, the behaviors are sexually based, secondly the behavior is unwelcome. This implies that all jokes and comments that are degrading and intimidating are inclusive as per the Title VII. Another important element in the hostile work environment being established is the other incidents that are a perpetrated in the workplace that are not directed at the victim. These case and instances have been termed as important in establishing such an environment.
Boland M. L., (2005), Sexual harassment in the workplace, Naperville, Sphinx Pub.
Levy A. & Paludi M. A. (2002), Workplace sexual harassment, Upper Saddle River, Prentice Hall.
Achampong F. (1999), Workplace sexual harassment law: principles, landmark developments, and framework for effective risk management, Westport, Conn. Quorum Books.