Case Study: Hostile Environment Harassment

1348 Words 6 Pages
Introduction Sexual harassment can occur in several different forms within the workplace, but the type which tends to cause the most controversy is what Pynes calls “hostile environment harassment” (Pynes, 2013). Cases involving this form of harassment can be difficult for human resource departments to effectively deal with because defining what constitutes a “hostile environment” can be open to interpretation. However, the official statement from the EEOC defines it as “verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when…such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment” (Pynes, 2013).
In this case study,
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Two female employees filed complaints saying that Bryan often stood too close to them while they were working and would sometimes place his hands on their arms, shoulders, or backs which made them feel uncomfortable. Bryan admitted that he had touched the women, but he claimed that it did not constitute sexual harassment because he did not believe casual touching of another person during a conversation to be sexual harassment if there was no sexual intent. As a result of these incidents, Bryan received a written reprimand and training for sexual harassment, including the inappropriateness of touching others in the workplace.
Another incident occurred the next year on May 26, 2001, when Bryan made an insensitive comment to a female employee. Bryan later apologized, and the incident was not reported as sexual harassment at the
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Several of them claimed that they did not want to cause problems for him, but by failing to file a complaint they allowed him to create a hostile working environment for many other women over the course of his career. Based on the testimony which stated that touching between coworkers was a common occurrence, it is possible that Bryan was being singled out for actions that were common in that organizational culture. However, this seems unlikely because there were several complaints filed against him, several more female employees made statements during the investigation by the EEO officer, and his conduct toward the 16-year-old volunteer employee was clearly more forward than his conduct with other

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