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Writing Across the Curriculum

Case Studies Prepare responses to either case-1 or case-2

  Case Study #1

John and Elaine: Is It Sexual Harassment?

John is a new supervisor of Client Service, a work unit of eleven people. It's his first supervisory position. Elaine, one of the Service Representatives in his unit, finds a note from John or her desk. It says, "I would like to have more than a professional relationship with you. Can we go out sometime soon and get to know each other better?" Elaine has no interest and says nothing to John about the note. John subsequently ceases all personal communication with Elaine. He directs verbal communication through coworkers and begins to make assignments and critique her work through written memos. He calls staff meetings when she is out of the office, so that she does not learn of policy and procedural changes. This results in error, for which she receives written reprimands. She develops migraine headaches and is given 30 days of probation because of attendance and performance problems. She files a complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation with the HRC.

Is this "quid pro quo" sexual harassment?

If you were the manager given responsibility for dealing with Elaine's complaint, what would you do first? next? and then?

How would you conduct an investigation? How would you respond to the HRC complaint?

What, if any, would be appropriate remedy for Elaine? What, if any, would be appropriate action to take against John?

If you were Elaine, what would you have done differently?

What might this organization do to prevent a recurrence of the problem?

Case Study #2

Sally and the Crew: Is It Sexual Harassment?

Sally is a new maintenance worker in the equipment depot of a utility company. She is one of two women in the depot and works closely with the maintenance crews. She is engaged to marry an employee who works at another location. Sally is the subject of a lot of coworker attention - whistles, leers, comments about her figure (especially her breasts) her sex life, sexual propositions and jokes occur daily. She says nothing because she wants to be a good sport and to be accepted by the crew; however, on two occasions when driving him to a work location, Al, a crew member, had grabbed her and tried to kiss her. She asks the maintenance supervisor, Chuck, not to send her out in the truck with Al, and tells him the reason. Chuck encourages her to keep her sense of humor and tells Al to keep his hands to himself. Al vehemently denies any physical contact with Sally, complains to his coworkers that "the bitch" is trying to get him fired, and is punched in the nose at the Way-To-Go Tavern by Sally's fiancé. Sally and her fiancé are shunned by the crew, who tell Chuck that they refuse to work with Sally. "Bitch" is scrawled on her locker and on her overalls. Sally develops an ulcer and uses all her sick leave. When she is threatened with discharge for absenteeism she files an union grievance and gives Chuck a note from her psychiatrist stating that she requires at least a 60 day leave-of-absence for job-related stress. The leave is granted. Her fiancé breaks their engagement, citing peer pressure as the cause. Both the union and management investigate her charges of sexual harassment and conclude that they are without foundation.

Does Sally have a basis for claiming "hostile environment: sexual harassment? How was she harmed?

If you were the union or Chuck, how would you investigate her grievance? If no witnesses supported Sally's story, what would you conclude?

What, if any, would be an appropriate remedy for Sally?

If Sally returned to work after her leave-of-absence, how would you restore coworker relationships?

How might this scenario have been prevented?


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