Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – Case Study


Over the years, several cases concerning sexual harassment in the workplace have marred many court proceedings. This demonstrates that indeed many people are harassed at their workplaces by their employers or core employees. In response, to these unethical behaviors, many states and countries have enacted various legislations that help to punish the culprits. Sexual offenses act is one such bill that seeks to ensure that all culprits face due charges and punishments for their offenses. Employers engage in sexual harassment because of their capacity to fire and promote their subordinates. Therefore, they promise their employees favors when they oblige them to engage in sexual behaviors. The scenario discussed in this paper is a good illustration of how women fall culprits of sexual harassment at their workplaces with their bosses. Rita was kicked out of her employment after refusing to have sex with her boss. She respected her rights and followed the laws to the later even when she was going to lose her employment. She understood her rights and fought her way through the court of law.


Rita had worked for Techsoft Company for five years as the secretary to the head of the marketing manager. She was very hard working and always ensured that her boss was well attended to. Rita was a wife and a mother of three children. She had been married for eight years. She was charming and cute. Her boss, Mr. Cliff always had busy schedules and therefore delegated most of the office work to Rita. Rita could attend to his clients well in his absence. On most occasions, when Cliff came back from his trips, he could find most of his clients well attended. This trust and determination that the two had made them relate well. One afternoon, Cliff came to the office and found Rita busy working on her assignments. When Rita opened the door, Cliff forcefully kissed Rita on her cheek. This act offended Rita. She bitterly sought an explanation from Cliff why he decided to act in this unusual way. Cliff seemed not to be moved, and instead told Rita that she had fallen in love with her and wanted them to have sex. He went further to tell Rita that if she agreed to his request, she was to be promoted and her salary revised. Rita turned down the offer and went outside the office. Cliff left the office too to meet a client. The following day Rita came to her work early because she had a lot of work. Shortly, Cliff arrived. He grabbed Rita’s hand forcefully and began caressing her bosom and buttocks. Rita resisted, and after a moment of struggles, Cliff stopped. In a harsh tone, he told Rita that, if she was not going to give in, her job was at stake. The following morning, Rita received a letter of employment termination. She lost her job because of the heinous behaviors of his boss. She refused to give in.

Review of the Case Law

Every country has its own sexual harassment laws that guide courts in determining cases of sexual harassment. In the United States, the case between Train and Barns of 1974 is the first sexual harassment case though it did not use the term sexual harassment (Rowe and Bendersky 25). However, in 1976 the case between Saxbe vs. Williams viewed sexual harassment as discrimination based on sex. Male supervisors showed sex advances to their women counterparts. When proven, the victims were determined based on gender. In 1980, the equal employment opportunity commission defined what sexual harassment was, pointing out that it was a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the 1964 civil rights act (Rowe and Bendersky 25). When institutions fail to adopt aggressive stances on issues pertaining to sexual harassment at workplaces, it leads to employees’ loss of morale, reduced productivity, and erosion of companies’ reputation (The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC) Para. 5). Owing to the increased risk, in 1991, amendments were made on Title VII permitting victims of sexual harassment to recover damages caused to them as per the federal laws (Rowe and Bendersky 25). Furthermore, the law was amended in 1993 when the supreme court of the US made it easier to prove injuries caused to the victim. These laws ensured that the victims were protected from sexual harassment (Rowe and Bendersky 25). It is also imperative that companies understand the issues of sexual harassment to avoid high liabilities. They, therefore, should be aware of the statistics, be familiar with the available legal grounds for the accused and the victim, and know current trends of the law and ways in which they can protect themselves from falling victims of such offenses.


The major reason for the enactment of sexual harassment laws is to ensure that employees get their rights at their workplaces. The law prohibits any form of abuse or harassment of any individual at his or her working place. The benefits of the law are that it has promoted respect among employers and employees besides helping to improve behaviors among the workers and employers.

Analysis of Law as Applicable to Case Scenario

Sexual harassment laws protect employees in a working environment whose freedoms and civil rights are threatened and/or violated. The laws are precise and provide procedures that a person facing harassment has to safeguard his/her rights (Belize Protection against Sexual Harassment Act 7). These laws apply to both private and public sector workers. Therefore, every employee is required to respect the law. If the laws are contravened, the consequences are applied in all measures regardless of the sector from which a victim works. Any individual accused of any unwelcomed sexual activity with a promise of favors or benefits has definitely engaged in sexual harassment. Likewise, Rita was compelled by her Boss-Cliff to agree to his sexual demands with the promise of increasing salary and promotion. Rita did not agree to these demands, which made Cliff caress her forcefully and even attempt to force her into a sexual act. Cliff was liable to answer to the offense. Rita’s employment ended when she refused to accept the demand of his boss. This is clear evidence of sexual harassment. If Rita could have complied, her salary could have been increased, besides getting a promotion. Even if she could have engaged in the sexual act with the boss unwillingly or against her wish to keep her job, this could have amounted to sexual harassment. Rita was permitted under the law to file a case of sexual harassment for compensation for the damage that the manager caused her. The assault affected her psychologically.

Rita’s case still qualifies to be sexual harassment due to the verbal utterances, sexual innuendoes made and done on her by her boss. The boss uttered words that were demeaning to her: she is a mother and a wife. Even after she expressed her lack of interest and unwillingness to the boss’s advances, he continued to touch her. The sexual harassment law has the provision that requires companies to be held liable if their employees engage in sexual harassment. This implies that, those companies that do not impose stiff penalties to the perpetrators or sexual harassment offenders are held liable. In this case, the harassment happened between two employees, one Cliff who was a manager and Rita who was a junior staff. If the matter is taken to the attention of the company and no immediate action is taken, then the company Techsoft will be held liable for the offense, and will have to answer to the charges. It is important that companies be involved in the affairs of their employees: educating them on their rights and expectations, as such offenses may have repercussions that may be difficult to bear.

The law also provides time for the victim before lodging a sexual harassment charge against the person who committed the offense (The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC Para. 2). In our case, after her dismissal, Rita did not rush to report the case to the courts of law but waited for a little while. In her case, even though she might not have taken photos during the harassment, she might argue her case on her untimely termination of employment contract. Another important attribute about the sexual harassment law is that it applies equally to both men and women. The victim can be either a man or a woman, a victim’s supervisor, a co-worker, non –employee, an agent of an employer, or even a supervisor of another area (Barry and Mann Para. 1). In our case, the harassment occurred between a manager and another subordinate. Therefore, the law is allowed to take its due course if the victim takes the accused to court for alleged sexual harassment.


The enactment of laws on sexual harassment has provided justice and relieve for many victims. Even though the rate of harassments at work has not reduced to the required level, the act has played a tremendous role in bringing sanity in many companies and organizations especially where human civil rights are in violation. In many cases of sexual harassment, larger numbers involve the employer and the employee. This indicates that most of the cases are unwelcomed and in respect of favors. Bosses promise pay increase, promotions, and other benefits to engage in sexual activities. Others engage in sexual harassment because of their status and powers that they hold in an organization. Some examples illustrating sexual harassment include verbal utterances, jokes, and dirty talks on sexual issues, sexual innuendoes, and physical touch amongst others. It is also important that concerned parties intensify their awareness campaigns to educate the workers and the managers about sexual harassments and their rights. Many organizations are not putting in efforts to ensure that there is enough sensitization about the issue. Clear communication should be enhanced. Workers should be informed that such behaviors would not be tolerated in the organization. They should be encouraged to report such incidents immediately to ensure that appropriate actions are taken.


Barry, Roberts and Richard Mann. Sexual harassment in the workplace: A primer, 2003. Web.

Belize, Adams. Protection against Sexual Harassment Act: Chapter 107, 2000. Web.

Rowe, Mary and Corinne Bendersky. Workplace Justice, Zero Tolerance, and Zero Barriers in Negotiations and Change, From the Workplace to Society. London: Cornell University Press, 2002. Print.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC). Facts about sexual Harassment, 2002. Web.

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