The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Act meant that discrimination based on certain criteria is now illegal for companies located in the United States that have 15 or more employees (Sutton, 2000). The criteria specify that no harassment or discrimination against an employee can be based on the race, sex, religion or national origin.This law meant that a reduction of the casual and often intentional discriminatory actions by others that took place as part of businesses and society would decrease.
In the business environment, consistent freedom from discrimination was closer to a working reality with this law by providing the push to encourage businesses to make all employees (even the accidental and die-hard bigots) comply with new policy standards.Then finally in 1978 these same protections were extended to additionally cover pregnant women as a sub-category (McKay, 2010).
The reality is just because this law exists doesn’t mean businesses and people will follow it. However compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for the EEOC (equal employment opportunity commission) to implement this law (McKay, 2010). Also in the business environment, the conduct considered prohibited and reportable by the EEOC includes: crude, sexist or vulgar language, requests or sexual favors, any form of sexual advances, physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature and written or visual material of a sexual nature.
A “Prima Facie” case of sexual harassment is made by confirmation of a number of guidelines and answers to certain questions. Sutton (2000) explains that these certain guidelines and questions along with their answers define the classification of a reported situation as sexual-harassment. These questions are: Was the conduct (verbal or physical) of a sexual nature? If yes, was it unwelcome? Was there some form of a “quid pro quo” or did it create the perception of a hostile work environment? In summary, the two major criteria points needed would be if the alleged conduct would be considered offensive to an “average reasonable woman” and if the conduct in question was considered “offensive” by the person bringing the charge.
In the workplace, a sexual harassment case can be supplemented by establishing detailed records of each specific incident in some form of written chronological documentation (Roberts & Mann, 2010). Each and every sexual harassment incident needs to be well documented. An example would be: if the individual “feels uncomfortable and intimidated” after being shown pornography by her boss. Notes should include who, what, when and stick only to clear facts. It is essential that the identity of any witness to each incident of discrimination be listed with full name for each and every incident. If discrimination has occurred in any form of paperwork using printable records then print out and keep copies of the discrimination related e-mails, cartoons, memos or business letters. Remember to keep this notebook professional. Remember to present your evidence to the proper chain of personnel as listed in your company’s policy handbook. Remember that the record of these discrimination incidents is admissible as evidence in court should the situation go that far (Lee Smith Publishers, 2010).
The defining of a hostile work environment is by subjective perception of the interference level that has happened to the employee and the perceived level of intimidation relating to their functioning in workplace. To make a hostile work environment case: Does the complainant belong to a protected group? Was the action or subject material that the complainant was exposed to unwelcome? Was the offensive actions/item offensive to the protected group membership? Were the actions pervasive in nature and created an effect on the condition of subject’s employment environment? Was the employer (management) aware of the actions and took no corrective measures? If the answer is affirmative for these questions then the case has been made for a hostile work environment (Roberts & Mann, 2010).
In the workplace the correct methods to eliminate discrimination are mandatory company policies implemented using education for new and older employees along with the use of predefined no tolerance rules for encouraging compliance. Rigid establishment and enforcement of company policies (rules) must be a constant standard to ensure a company’s integrity about this topic. Prompt investigation, detailed and accurate reports and non-biased evaluations must be the customary way of operating.
Communication structures for reporting incidents should be made known to all employees. A senior level management individual should be designated as implementation program supervisor. The rights of the employee reporting and the rights of the accused must be protected throughout all investigations. Protection safeguards should be in place to keep any efforts at retaliation at any reporters nullified. These enforcement protocols must be constantly applied at all level of company operations and at all levels of management to be consistently effective. Because of human nature and the fallibility of people to make mistakes it falls upon the human resources department or a compliance division of a company to be constantly on guard to correct problems as they are identified.These methods are the primary structures for improving a business’s compliance.
Lee Smith Publishers. (2010). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Retrieved from http://www.hrhero.com/topics/title7.html
McKay, D. (2010). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Preventing Employment Discrimination. Retrieved from http://careerplanning.about.com/od/federallawsus/a/civilrightsact.htm
Roberts, B. & Mann, R. (2010). Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Primer. Retrieved from http://www3.uakron.edu/lawrev/robert1.html
Sutton, W. (2000). Title VII and Sexual Harassment Claims. Retrieved from http://library.findlaw.com/2000/Aug/1/130670.html