Sexual Harassment Case Studies

This case was developed for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation.

The case provides students the opportunity to learn about the potential ethical and legal issues surrounding workplace romance and sexual harassment at work. (2014), "The love-smitten director: workplace romance or sexual harassment?

Illegal discrimination can occur on the basis of any legally protected category: race, ethnicity, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity, marital status, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, genetic information, physical or mental disabilities, veteran status, prior conviction of a crime, gender identity or expression, or membership in other protected classes set forth in state or federal law.

Regarding sexual harassment, the focus of this report, this includes gender harassment, a term designed to emphasize that harmful or ___________________ illegal sexual harassment does not have to be about sexual activity (USEEOC n.d.b.).

It provides definitions of key terms that will be used throughout the report, establishing a common framework from the research literature and the law for discussing these issues.

In reviewing what sexual harassment research has learned over time, the chapter also examines the research methods for studying sexual harassment and the appropriate methods for conducting this research in a reliable way.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines define sexual harassment as the following (USEEOC n.d.a.): Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when 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. This type of sexual harassment became defined as quid pro quo sexual harassment (Latin for “this for that,” meaning that a job or educational opportunity is conditioned on some kind of sexual performance).

Such coercive behavior was judged to constitute a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Sexual harassment constitutes discrimination because it is harmful and it is based on gender—it is not necessarily motivated by sexual desire nor does it need to involve sexual activity.

Both legal doctrine and social science research recognize gender as encompassing both one’s biological sex and gender-based stereotypes and expectations, such as heterosexuality and proper performance of gender roles.


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