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Sexual Harassment and Workplace Violence

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Harassment has plagued the world for centuries. Why should the workplace be any different? Sexual harassment and workplace violence are not only of historical roots, but contemporary issues are still present in the workforce today. Managers are addressing and combating modern sexual harassment and workplace violence, however instances still occur (Robbins, Decenzo & Coulter, 2011).

“Sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted action or activity of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, performance, or work environment” (Robbins, Decenzo & Coulter, 2011). According to the EEOC, “Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Sexual harassment is not limited to the employee/employer relationship, but can included clients or customers. Harassment does not have to be sexual in nature, but can include harassment about ones gender in general (EEOC, n.d).

Sexual harassment can be traced back for centuries. African-American slavery in the United States is an early example of situations that involved sexual harassment of workers by their superiors. African-American women imposed in slavery often succumbed to sexual advances. Late nineteenth and early twentieth female clerical workers were also often subjected to sexual harassment by their male superiors (Siegel, 2004).

Publicly published articles and government hearings sparked interest in sexual harassment in the late nineteenth century. Interests in the problem of female sexual vulnerabilities during this time period lead to the composition of several books that embedded context of the subject within their pages. Helen C...

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), (n.d.). Sexual harassment. Retrieved from website: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission , (2011). Sexual harassment charges eeoc & fepas combined: fy 1997 - fy 2011. Retrieved from website: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics
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