Reverse Sexual Harassment

Reverse Sexual Harassment
February 28, 2012
Abstract

In what is perceived to still be a male-dominated society, one of the most ambiguous topics to broach is that of reverse sexual harassment. Reverse sexual harassment refers to the sexual harassment of a male by a female. While it is not perceived as the norm, there are several instances of this occurring annually. It is generally supposed the actual number is greatly underreported due to the nature of the offence.
Both sexual and reverse sexual harassment are forms of discrimination. These acts of discrimination are against federal and state law. An individual who is the subject of reverse sexual harassment in the workplace can register a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They can file the complaint under the sexual harassment section of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2004, 15% of all sexual harassment charges received by the EEOC were filed by men (Anderson and Trimings 2006:2).
The rubric of reverse sexual harassment may be regarded as a facetious incident between a female superior or female co-worker against her male counter-part; however; this is still an act of discrimination which warrants reporting of this incident to management. Before filing a complaint or contacting a lawyer, make sure there is documented evidence compiled on the inappropriate actions of the individual. In the event that the sexual harassment complaint advances to the judicial process, this will support the chances of prevailing in court and with the EEOC.
Introduction Employment
Law is the legal specialty that regulates the operation of the labor market, in general, and the employment relationship between employers and employees in particular. Examples include the hiring process, suspension from work, maternity rights, layoff, wages and overtime pay, defamation, breach of employment contract, retaliation, freedom of speech in the workplace, military re-hires, unemployment compensation, and discrimination. Employment law is governed by numerous laws, regulations and ordinances at he Federal, State and sometimes, the local ordinance level.
In a Nut Shell, there are numerous Federal Laws which are generally tailored to protect societal interests such as the Anti-Discrimination provisions embodied in Title VII. Generally speaking, Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sex, gender, race, ethnic background, religion and retaliation. In the realm of Employment Law, sexual discrimination is one of the most prevalent topics in today’s society.
There are various types of sexual discrimination. When the lay person is asked which type of sexual discrimination is documented the most in the business world, to coin a phrase from the game show Family Feud “Survey says…”, that discrimination towards women in business is the number one answer. To further divvy down to a specific discrimination, would be that of male-on-female sexual harassment in the workplace. This specific discrimination is one of the most widely known and reported cases in a place of business.
Albeit, this type of discrimination continues to be a difficult case to prove within what many would consider still a male-dominated business world. However, this exposition of sex discrimination in the workplace will prove that the most challenging discrimination case to prove is that of woman-on-male sexual harassment. Methodology A qualitative evaluation shall be utilized for this research paper leveraging subjective methods such as actual case studies and various scholarly observations to collect substantive and relevant data.
The review consists of actual cases filed with the EEOC involving female-on-male sexual harassment cases and multiple interpretations of male sexual harassment cases from legal professionals, business professionals, and academic scholars. Such a qualitative approach is valuable here due to the uncommonness of this type of sex discrimination within contemporary professional situations. Upon collecting the qualitative data derived from said case studies and various scholarly observations, careful analysis shall be done to prepare a valid insight into reverse sexual discrimination rulings and the reporting of these cases at the workplace.
Recent research on current workplace cultural and the rise of women in hierarchy positions within companies has yielded validity in the argument of female-on-male sexual harassment in the office. Yet, there are seldom, if any, cases reported to the EEOC by men for sexual harassment. The argument of a cultural base depicting the male role as that of a dominant one; which, leads many to believe that any approach by a woman towards her male co-worker or male subordinate, may be warranted by her male counter-part.
Conversely, the governing act of Title VII enforces the rights of men, the same as women, in reporting any wrong-doing within the office. The methodology of this paper will help to substantiate the legitimacy of male sexual harassment in the workplace by a female superior or female co-worker and how employers should implement preventive strategies to minimize risks of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as avoiding costly and timely litigation. There are several different kinds of sexual harassment which will also be conversed within this paper.
The methodology is derived from intellectual journals, book excerpts, articles, and on-line resources. Review of the Literature When an offer for employment is made by an employer to an employee, the law governing the relationship between an employee and an employer begins. In terms of employee complaints against other employees and/or management, the employer should implement a form of risk management. This risk management process will adhere to rules and policies set in place by the employer to manage complaints such as sexual harassment.
However, the reality for most companies is how much respect is given to reports of woman-on-male sexual harassment by a co-worker or superior. Eve Tahmincioglu (2007) expresses the reality of how male sexual harassment in the workplace may be overlooked in the article, “Male Sexual Harassment is not a joke. ” The author indicates, “But for quite a few men, sexual harassment is indeed becoming a serious issue, and some men are deciding not to just brush aside the unwelcome advances from women. (2007). Tahmincioglu interviewed a human resources expert, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, who disclosed insight from the human resources’ perspective, “Many people mistakenly believe that harassment is limited to females,” Roberta Chinsky Matuson added, “The truth is that this type of experience is just as damaging to men” (Tahmincioglu, 2007). David Grinberg, a spokesman for the EEOC, states “sexual harassment filings by men have consistently increased, doubling over 15 years” (Tahmincioglu, 2007).
The vast majority of the EEOC’s sexual harassment suits are filed by women; however, male filings are becoming “a bigger piece of the pie, with nearly 2000 filing charges last year (2006),” as reported by Tahmincioglu (2007). Unfortunately, the cases which reach the EEOC do not represent the actual number of male sexual harassment filings which may go unreported due to fear of being “mocked” by coworkers (2007). In some cases, men working in a majority female office may be subject to unprovoked jokes pertaining to men or the male sexual anatomy around the break room, water cooler, or via forwarded emails.
This is considered male sexual harassment. Fear of retaliation and mocking may prompt men to not file a complaint. An argument of retaliation is discussed by Tahmincioglu (2007) as the first ever court case involving sexual harassment of a man in the workplace was in 1995. The EEOC sued Domino Pizza after a female supervisor of a male store manager sexually harassed him and then fired him. “She would caress his shoulders and neck, and pinched his buttocks,” the EEOC said in a statement.
The case went to trial in Tampa and the male manager was awarded $237,000 in damages (2007). In this groundbreaking case, the male employee was retaliated against by his superior; however, he pursued his case and eventually won in the court ruling against Domino Pizza and the store manager. In comparison, the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discloses information about a case where two male employees were subject to racial and sexual harassment by their female manager and one employee was fired out of retaliation.
In the EEOC lawsuit against Austin Foam Plastics, the company was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting two African-American male employees to a sexually and racially hostile working environment and for the firing of one employee as a result of opposing and reporting the incidents. The male employees were harassed vehemently by their female manager through discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, insults, racially offensive comments and jokes, cartoons and images which denigrated African-Americans.
The EEOC also charged that a female manager sexually harassed male employees by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual comments and unsolicited physical contact of a sexual nature and that she conditioned more favorable terms of employment on acquiescence to her sexual advances and overtures. The acts of sexual harassment, racial harassment, and retaliation all violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was settled in 2010 and Austin Foam Plastics pays out $600,000 in damages. The preceding case signifies the reason why employers should implement preventive strategies to minimize risks of costly litigation.
If the company adheres to strict policies regarding the development and auditing of its management team, some complaints may be avoided. In the article Sexual Harassment in the Workplace written by Karina L. Schrengohst, Esq. , the author indicates that the supervisor has a significant role in prevention. Schrengohst employs information from Massachusetts state statutes regarding sexual harassment in the workplace: “Massachusetts law and federal law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
Employers have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment before it arises and to create a harassment-free workplace. Toward this end, supervisors play an important role in identifying, preventing, and reporting sexual harassment. And in Massachusetts, supervisors have even more incentive to be vigilant because they can be held individually liable for inaction when they have knowledge of sexual harassment but fail to act” (2011).
There are two types of sexual harassment: (1) quid-pro-quo harassment, and (2) hostile-work-environment harassment which are detailed by Schrengohst: “Quid-pro-quo harassment occurs when an employee’s submission to or rejection of sexual advances, requests, or conduct impacts a condition of his or her employment such as receiving or being denied a raise, a promotion or demotion, continued employment or termination, or a change of duties, hours, or compensation.
Hostile-work-environment harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or conduct are severe and pervasive enough to alter an employee’s working conditions or to interfere with work performance” (2011). The author discusses the necessity of “preventative steps” in the workplace to avoid such sexual harassment cases.
Although most employers have written policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, enforcement and dissemination of these policies remains another area of discussion. Schrengohst also details the sexual harassment policies as listed by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination: “

A statement that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful;
A definition and examples of sexual harassment; A reporting procedure, with several individuals identified as authorized to receive complaints;
A statement of potential consequences for employees who are found to have committed sexual harassment;
A statement that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who has complained about sexual harassment, filed a lawsuit, or participated in an investigation;
Information about state and federal employment-discrimination enforcement agencies.

This policy should be presented to all new employees at the start of employment and posted in the workplace. The policies for sexual harassment are clearly written; however, a strict policy of training employees and management on the rigors of sexual harassment in the workplace must be employed. Discussion Employment law is a complex, ever-evolving specialty in the practice of law. Employees are well advised to seek competent professional legal advice when an employment law issue arises. Employment Law has many strict deadlines as it pertains to filing of claims, as such, it is imperative for employees to assert their rights as soon as possible.
Oftentimes, it is advisable to seek legal representation before the adverse employment action occurs, such as, while the employee is still employed with the employer. Discrimination is one of the most prominent complaints handled by the EEOC. Each State, as a sovereign entity, is entitled to give additional protections for discrimination than those afforded by Federal Regulations. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
The federal and state level jurisdictions instituted anti-retaliation provisions which prevent an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing a sexual discrimination case. In quoting the definition of “Sexual Harassment” as listed on the EEOC website: “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual ature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer. ” Conclusion Because many unusual laws exist and there are many requirements exclusions, it is imperative that an employee who believes they have been wronged, or an employer seeking to comply with all employment laws, to seek the advice of competent counsel. In addition to the governmentally enacted laws, the employment relationship may be governed by written contracts (so long as the clauses do not violate inalienable rights).
The employer and employee both share rights when a sexual harassment case is filed. If well-documented and filed in a timely manner, each sexual harassment case must be taken seriously.
References:
BARRON, L. G. (2009). SEXUAL ORIENTATION EMPLOYMENT ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION AND HIRING DISCRIMINATION AND PREJUDICE. Academy Of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, 1-6. doi:10. 5465/AMBPP. 2009. 44243452 Leighton, P. , ; Wynn, M. (2011). Classifying Employment Relationships—More Sliding Doors or a Better Regulatory Framework?.
Industrial Law Journal, 40(1), 5-44. MSNBC. msn. com, by Eve Tahmincioglu, http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/19536167/ns/business-careers/t/male-sexual-harassment-not-joke/#. T0z7OPWyFEM www. eeoc. gov, http://www. eeoc. gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-15-10a. cfm Posthuma, R. A. , Roehling, M. V. , ; Campion, M. A. (2011). Employment discrimination law exposures for international employers. International Journal Of Law ; Management, 53(4), 281-298. doi:10. 1108/17542431111147792

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