Healthcare and Medicine Reference
In-Depth Information
CHAPTER 4
Sexual Harassment in the
Workplace
BACKGROUND OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Sexual harassment is relevant to the issues of concern that relate to the
recent economic downturn in several ways. During the downturn, sexual
harassment in the workplace is an important issue that needs to be
addressed forthrightly. It was included here because it is a subjective
workplace-related measure that can also be objectively observed. Despite
various other intervening factors, sexual harassment can be measured by
the number of claims filed before and after the economic downturn.
One observation of this subject was set forth by Dziech and Weiner
(1990) and Boland (2002) who described how the term sexual harassment
came about. In a report by Rowe (1996) , it was found that various terms
describing inappropriate sexual behavior had been discussed by women's
groups in the early 1970s. During that period a number of organizations
began to more critically define the issue and developed policies and pro-
cedures that addressed various aspects of the problem. Brownmiller
(1999) described how several groups, including the Working Women's
Institute in 1976, eventually suggested that the term sexual harassment
suitably embraced a broad range of both subtle and very offensive behav-
ior. As a result of considerable effort, the term “sexual harassment”
became gradually accepted. Bowers and Hook (2002) pointed out that
the term was largely unused until the early 1990s. Sexual harassment dur-
ing that period became an intense and broader public issue when, in
1991, Anita Hill witnessed and testified against Supreme Court Justice
Nominee Clarence Thomas.
As a result of the unclear definition of sexual harassment, there is no
precise method to determine how people who have been victimized can
clearly classify the feelings and discomfort that they have experienced as
sexual harassment. A further difficulty raised by several authors is how the
behavior of a sexual harasser could be directly related to the negative psy-
chological and physical outcomes often experienced by victims. There
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