Scott’s new secretary begins to attract his attention. Although her performance in the office is exemplary, she wears very provocative clothes and seems to take any opportunity to touch Scott or brush too closely past him in the hall. Then, he notices that she has a tendency to shift conversation from business to personal topics. Late one afternoon, she suggests they continue their work over dinner. He declines, but her attentions persist. Uncomfortable with the situation, and afraid of what she might claim if he complained about her behavior, Scott requests a transfer to another workgroup, despite the resulting pay cut.
The conduct of Scott’s new secretary can be termed as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be defined as, “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile working environment” (Know Your Rights: Sexual Harassment at Work, 2011). The secretary’s conduct towards Mr. Scott can be termed as sexual harassment because it characterized all the features of sexual harassment. The secretary’s conduct towards Mr. Scott was unwelcomed. Scott expressed to the secretary that her behavior was unwelcomed through his actions. For instance, Scott refused her request to extend office work over dinner.
Verbal or written advances, which constitute sexual harassment include comments about a person’s clothing, body, or behavior, repeatedly asking a person out, and sexual based jokes, while physical conduct include blocking movement, stroking, hugging, and inappropriate touch. (Know your Rights: Sexual Harassment at Work, 2011). In Scott’s case, the secretary is said to have constantly touched and brushed closely to Mr. Scott whenever she met him on the hallway. In addition, by wearing provocative clothes, it can be said that she was expressing non-verbal sexual gestures towards Mr. Scott.
If an individual’s conduct unreasonably affects the work performance of another individual, this can be termed as sexual harassment. According to the United Nation’s definition of sexual harassment, if an individual voluntarily changes his/her job status due to the conduct of another person, which is of sexual nature, it amounts to sexual harassment even if it does not result into economic injury (What is Sexual Harassment, n.d.). In Mr. Scott’s case, it is clear that the secretary’s conduct affected his work performance because he requested for a transfer to another workgroup.
Similarly, if the genders of the people involved in this case were reversed, the situation would still be termed as sexual harassment. This is because; the law against sexual harassment in the place of work protects both men and women against possible sexual harassment from bosses, co-workers, or customers. Therefore, if Mr. Scott were to behave in the manner that his secretary was behaving towards him, it would still be termed as sexual harassment since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits supervisory personnel from making sexual advances or demands towards their junior/subordinate personnel.