Sexual harassment

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

SEXUAL HARASSMENT – a particular form of discrimination based on sex, consisting of socially unacceptable, unethical behaviour of a sexual nature that is detrimental to the dignity of a person who is harassed or creating an atmosphere of intimidation, humiliation or enmity. S.h. is a type of violence that occurs in the form of unwanted physical contact, verbal or/and nonverbal sexual violence. A factor determining the recognition of a behaviour as s.h. is the lack of consent of the harassed person for the specific behaviour. The objection expressed by the harassed person must be clear and firm, without leaving any doubt that the behaviour is unacceptable and inappropriate in the mind of the harassed person. S.h. is one of the pathologies in the work environment that negatively affects the physical and mental health of the victim and the organisation. Sexual violence creates a bad atmosphere of work, creates unfriendly, intimidating working conditions, creates unhealthy relationships between employees and negatively affects the image of the individual. Catharine MacKinnon distinguishes two types of s.h. in terms of employment: “something for something” and “hostile working environment”. S.h. of the “something for something” type occurs when individual submission or rejection of sexual provocation or sexual conduct is used as a basis for making a decision about employment or if submission to such behaviour determines the time or conditions of employment. The reason for submitting to s.h. at work may be fear of financial losses. “Hostile work environment” occurs when unwanted sexual conduct interferes with performance of work or creates an intimidating or aggressive atmosphere, even if harassment does not lead to material or economic consequences – loss of pay or promotion. S.h. became recognizable to the public relatively late, only in the 1970s, due to a court case that ended with the US Supreme Court ruling in 1986. For many years the issue of s.h. was only linked with the behaviour of men against women, and today one can distinguish the phenomenon of s.h. between people of different sexes and between people of the same sex. S.h. in the work environment can be restricted through anti-discrimination education and the introduction of anti-discrimination policies and procedures. S.h. is defined in the so-called anti-discrimination law (in the framework of implementation of the EU rules on equal treatment) and in the labour law. Regulations include the so-called transferred burden of proof, which implies that the victim is obliged to provide evidence for the breach of the principle of equal treatment and the organisation where the irregularity took place is obliged to prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment [ J. Itrich-Drabarek, A. Komar ].

Literature: J. Marciniak, Mobbing, dyskryminacja, molestowanie. Przeciwdziałanie w praktyce [Mobbing, discrimination, harassment. Counteracting in practice], Warszawa 2015 ■ M.-F. Hirigoyen, Molestowanie w pracy [Harassment at work], Poznań 2003.