Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Besides, sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, for examples, the victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome. In the 1990s, the United States experienced the beginnings of a sexual- harassment revolution, as the number of cases increased, the average profile of victims changed and more laws were created in order to set new precedents and protect individuals against sexual predators.

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Since then, people from all backgrounds, cultures and social positions have found themselves involved in sexual-harassment cases, from presidents to church leaders to professional sports players. Law in Malaysia to Deal Specifically with Sexual Harassment. There is only one law in existence that comes close to dealing with the issue of sexual harassment in Malaysia – Penal Code, section 509. The Penal Code, section 509 provides that : Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any women, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture or exhibit any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or with fine, or with both”. This existing law deals more with physical aspects. Sexual harassment cases are currently handled by the police and claims are made under the Penal Code, section 509. Nevertheless, the Industrial Relations Act 1967, may be amended to provide for action against sexual harassment perpetrators.

This amendment is to curb sexual harassment. In the meantime, the Ministry of Human Resources is using its influence to encourage employers to adopt the Code of Practice against sexual harassment and an internal mechanism to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. This code was introduced in 1999. The Code of Practice outlines the statement of purpose, legal definition of harassment, descriptions of behaviour that constitutes harassment, how employees should handle harassment, how the company handles complaints, what kind of disciplinary action and name and phone numbers to lodge a complaint.

Majority of businesses in Malaysia do not have any form of policy against sexual harassment. It is important to be aware of sexual-harassment laws and precedents when dealing with this sensitive topic in the workplace. While some of the examples below are truly bizarre, they are representative of just how widespread, damaging and seemingly subjective some of these cases can be. Treat every complaint of sexual harassment with respect, but make sure to hear both sides of the story before making any conclusions.

This list of the top 20 sexual-harassment cases of all time chronicles the misdeeds of heavyweights to truly bizarre, lesser-known exploits. The following is some cases of sexual harassment. First case,Shepherd v. Tuck and Tuki Marine Surveys Pty Ltd [2002] QADT 10 (19 April 2002) – Member Pagani. Ms Shepherd was a 23 year old woman employed by Mr Tuck, who owned and managed a marine survey business. After two months, Ms Shepherd’s employment was terminated on the basis, she alleged, that she would not engage in a personal relationship with him.

She based her complaint on a series of incidents alleged to be sexual harassment. These included: statements of a sexual nature to and about her: `blonde’ jokes (apparently inferring that she was not intelligent), taking a photograph of another woman’s legs and suggesting it be stuck on Ms Shepherd’s office desk, gifts and a suggestion of shared accommodation while travelling in order to minimise costs. Mr Tuck admitted he was attracted to Ms Shepherd, but said it was she who made advances to him and that she proposed a relationship.

He countered the allegations with other claims. These included Ms Shepherd introducing herself by kissing him on the neck, not voicing any objection to shared accommodation, referring to herself as a slut, and dressing scantily in his presence. Mr Tuck argued that Ms Shepherd’s employment was terminated because of her inappropriate conduct while representing the company, her lack of capacity to do the tasks, and inadequate workplace performance.

Examples included giving out company business cards to males in whom she was interested, making a serious error in a ship’s manual and instead of correcting it as asked, going to “have a drink” with the ship’s cook, refusing to do field work, putting personal matters before business appointments, and driving the company car after drinking alcohol. On the issue of jokes, Mr Tuck said Ms Shepherd joined in the general joke-telling and humour of the office. For the outcome, Member Pagani found that neither party was “deliberately untruthful”, and agreed in general on the facts.

She found the main divergence was that Mr Tuck indicated he never intended offence, and Ms Shepherd said she was offended. In terms of Mr Tuck’s desire to have a relationship with Ms Shepherd, it was found “that no reasonable person in her circumstances would have been offended by the proposal, had it been made by the first respondent as alleged”. In summing up, the Member said “Ms Shepherd and Mr Tuck had shared a very casual, and personal, working relationship. The working environment was `rough and tumble’, but the complainant was an equal participant in it”.

The Member found that Ms Shepherd failed to prove her case to the required standard. Second case, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky: Perhaps the most famous presidential scandal in our nation’s history, Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky escalated far beyond the Oval Office. People all over the world watched as Clinton’s presidency took a backseat to Ken Starr’s interest as to whether or not Clinton had “sexual relations with that woman. ” Eventually, he became the second U. S. president to face an impeachment trial.

Third case, Maxine Henderson and Gwen: In 1996, artist Maxine Henderson’s impressionist portrait of a nude woman named Gwen rocked the small town of Murfreesboro, Tenn. A local assistant superintendent noticed the painting when it was hung on a wall in City Hall and was so offended by its alleged vulgarity that she “submitted a sexual harassment complaint to the city legal department. ” The city ultimately decided that the painting violated its own sexual-harassment policies and removed it. As a result, the artist sued the city “for violating her First Amendment rights. ” Henderson won the case in a U.

S. District Court, under the pretence that the painting hung in a public space and that the city’s sexual-harassment policy was not detailed enough in its description of what constituted offensive material. The others are, Burlington Industries v. Kimberly Ellerth: When Kimberly Ellerth worked at Burlington Industries, she described her experiences as feeling “completely humiliated, embarrassed. ” An emotional and mental victim of sexual harassment by her supervisor, Ellerth never experienced a professional setback or reported the incidents to anyone at work, but according to Court TV, the U.

S. Supreme Court ruled “that workers can still bring sexual harassment cases against employers even if the harassment is not reported and the employee’s career is never hurt. ” It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available. Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.

They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. For most people, a sexual-harassment case can equal a nightmare, no matter which side they find themselves fighting on. Visit the Sexual Harassment Support or My Employment Lawyer Web sites if you need to confront someone about their behaviour or if you feel as though you have been wrongfully accused.

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