Ethical Dilemma: Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace

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Ethical Dilemma: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Introduction Sexual Harassment in the workplace is an ongoing epidemic in today’s workforce that if left unmanaged, has great potential to derail the culture and success of an organization. Sexual harassment has hardly ever been examined from an ethical perspective. We will view it from the utilitarian perspective and discuss ways to employers can gain control and prevent the act from occurring. Defining Sexual Harassment Sexual Harassment is the unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that disrupts the workplace. Sexual harassment falls into two categories: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo is “this for that”. For example, if a supervisor propositions a subordinate with a raise if she goes out with him-constitutes as quid pro quo. When one party interferes with the work performance of the victim in an unreasonable manner, or exposes the victim to a rude, lewd and uncomfortable work environment, it constitutes a hostile environment sexual harassment. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harassment can range from derogatory comments to unwanted sexual advances and threats to sexual assault, and rape. These acts affect all employees, but can have particularly negative impact and result on employees in low-wage jobs because these workers can least afford to have their livelihoods endangered. Immanuel Kant’s philosophy on sexual harassment was “…each person thinks of themselves as a rational creature who is entitled to dignity and respect.” ( Gilbert, 2008) Kant, and sometimes Sigmund Freud, perceived the sexual impulse and acting on it to be something nearly always, out of place to the dignity of a

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