Sexual Harassment Topic: Human Resource Management/Sexual Harassment Characters
Paula, Management trainee in the Production Department of a medium-sized company Steve, Vice President of Production and Paula’s Manager Richard, Paula’s coworker and a Manager in Production Paula, a recent college graduate, is a newly hired manager in the Production Department of a medium-sized US Company. The first woman selected for this production training position, Paula takes her work very seriously. She has been with the organization for three months.
For the first two months, she performed her duties very well, but during the last month, Steve, her boss, has noticed a change in Paula. She seems more tense and uneasy and is to not concentrating on her work as conscientiously as she previously did During the last month, Paula has been continually harassed by Richard, a coworker. At first she tried ignoring his jokes and sexual banter. However, his persistence has caused Paula have very uncomfortable feelings while she is at work and at home as well.
Paula looked into the employee’s handbook concerning sexual harassment policies and found none. She really did not know what to do. Finally, after noticing her continually declining work, Steve asked her what was bothering her. She told him the problem and showed him information concerning the EEOC laws dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace she had found in a human resources textbook from college. She also said that she was considering taking action against Richard if his actions continued.
Steve told her he was totally unaware of the problem but agreed something should be done. He asked her to investigate what the organization needed to do to stop this from occurring now and also to anyone else in the future. He also thanked Paula for her patience and honesty and also promised her that something would be done.
What Are the Ethical Issues?
- 1. What is sexual harassment, and why is it prohibited?
- 2. What obligations does a company have to deal with sexual harassment issues? Does an organization have an obligation to establish written policies on sexual harassment?
- 3. What obligations does a manager have to deal with accusations or established incidents of sexual harassment among his subordinates? How should such incidents be handled?
- 4. What should be done with individuals who are accused of sexual harassment? What would be appropriate penalties for individuals found to have been involved in sexual harassment of others?
- 5. What obligation does a company and its managers have towards the victims of sexual harassment?
What Actions Should Be Taken?
- 1. What actions should Paula take?
- 2. Should Steve address this current problem before he asks Paula to draft a harassment policy for the organization?
- 3. Is Paula the best choice to develop this document?
- 4. Should Richard be fired? Punished?
- 5. What are the choices Steve can take, and which would you choose? Why?
- 6. What ethical theories make the most sense (utilitarian, rights, justice) concerning this case?
- 7. What actions should Steve take?