Civil Rights Act of 1964

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Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws – Part 1

Published September 23, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair



Business leaders face many challenges and issues in the work place and are required to manage them effectively as they surface in order to maintain a successful and comfortably safe working environment. Clarkson and Miller (2012) recommend that organizational leaders become educated in business law in order to function in the modern world citing that anyone who embarks on a professional career, whether in medicine, science, entertainment, government, or accounting, will benefit from knowledge of contracts, real and intellectual property law, landlord-tenant partnerships as well as other significant legal matters (Clarkson & Miller, 2012). For example, when a manager invites a new employee to join the organization and makes it clear the candidate was chosen because of their credentials and top performance levels, rather than being welcomed or embraced, the new hire discovers many are jealous and exclude the individual from participating in significant meetings or social events. Soon, the new recruit starts to feel alone and isolated. This is an example of one form of discrimination that takes place in the business world. One of the most difficult forms of discrimination employers can face, however, is sexual discrimination, if and when they are forced to deal with a complaint that is filed. Seaquist (2012) suggests that although many of these cases can be settled out of court or through mediation, charges of sexual discrimination are a very serious matter that continues to present problems businesses and women confront on a daily basis in the modern world (Seaquist, 2012). The focus of this research is centered on the analysis of the legal and ethical situations relating to sexual discrimination and harassment issues in a business environment. The analysis will include a brief explanation to offer a more concise definition as well as provide a brief background on the subject. In addition, it will include a discussion on the ethical concerns and how discrimination laws are applied citing examples to support the study. The research will also include a look at the liability exposure employers can face as well as provide recommendations for improvement and suggest prevention plans that leaders can implement to avoid facing litigation and costly damages. The study will conclude that even though it takes an enormous amount of energy, understanding the legalities and complexities of business law with respect to discrimination and sexual harassment situations can help employers avoid litigation and maintain a safe working environment.


Analysis of Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

The Backstory

Smart business leaders recognize that knowledge in discrimination law puts them in a better position to create and enforce a climate that will prevent occurrences and behavior that encourages discrimination or sexual harassment because it can lead to costly lawsuits. For example, when women initially entered into the workforce, they began to experience a variety of discrimination issues.  In fact, many were discouraged from working outside of the household and often chastised. This attitude reflected the culture of that time, in that women had been conditioned to accept their role in society as the primary caretaker of the home and family while providing support toward their husbands careers. Once women entered the labor force, however, they were introduced to more kinds of discrimination including lower wages, exclusion from participating in certain occupations, and many were exposed to intimate violation in the form of sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse at their job. In fact, not only are women victims of this behavior, they are often subjected to society’s failure to recognize that sexual harassment is another form of abuse like bullying and generally accepted as taboo. In other words, this behavior is typical in a patriarchal society that accepts this conduct as boys being boys, while the women are left to confront the traumatic experiences of the effects from it, as well as process and examine their own perceptions, which for the most part, were usually not supported. Today, many women still feel humiliated, ashamed, and fearful to come forward to avoid ridicule and further stress because the system does not provide adequate support systems to defend these victims.

Dating co-workers is not a new concept. People work long hours together, overcome challenges and share victories. As a result, they develop bonds and friendships that can lead to romantic relationships. This can bring great joy and fulfillment as well as create a hostile atmosphere. Many companies have policies against romantic liaisons for those reasons. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear executives spewing remarks like, “We don’t fish off the company pier,” from those resolved to comply with corporate mandates. MacKinnon’s (1979) studies reveal that the intimate violation of both women and men is common in American society and concludes that the behavior is typically contained by a patriarchal structure of power that works diligently to keep the topic nearly inaudible. In addition, men’s control over women’s material survival, education, and occupational advancements for example, have become institutionalized in many patriarchal systems (MacKinnon, 1979). Unfortunately, these patterns have been enforced for thousands of years and slow to change because of the complexities associated with them.


Identifying Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination and harassment issues are difficult to manage because it makes people have to confront the the topic of inequality. The first step business leaders can take to prevent sexual discrimination and harassment is to have a clear understanding of what it means. For example, in a sex discrimination case, if an employer deliberately discriminates against a female in the work place, it is called disparate treatment. Should the claim go to court there is a three step process the plaintiff must go through to present the burdens of proof. Should the defendant succeed in convincing the court there was a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to prove the defendant’s position is false and inaccurate. According to Title VII and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the plaintiff must demonstrate a preponderance of evidence that supports the following criteria: (a) the individual is a member of a protected class; (b) the plaintiff was meeting the employer’s expectations; (c) the plaintiff suffered from the experience, (d) other workers of equal status outside the protected class were exposed to differential treatment. Furthermore, MacKinnon (1979) stated that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution guarantees that no state shall deny an individual equal protection of the law. According to the inequality approach, sexual harassment is viewed as sexual discrimination and seen as a disadvantage to women as a gender within a social context in which a female’s sexuality and material survival depends on, to the woman’s detriment (MacKinnon, 1979). In simple terms sexual discrimination can be defined as the unwanted acts and imposition individuals experience that is based on sexual requirements that takes place in a business relationship of unequal power.


People have been fighting for equality since they discovered what that term meant. Fredman (2011) however, contends that equality is an ideal whose meaning shifts the closer it is scrutinized. In the meantime, the legal system recognizes and acknowledges two general types of sexual discrimination and harassment issues: (a) quid pro quo harassment, which can translate into the form of a promotion, hiring, or salary hike in exchange for intimate favors; and (b) an environment that promotes sexual harassment where workers are exposed to behavior including unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments, innuendos, or jokes (Fredman, 2011). For example, in the Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986) court case, the plaintiff was required to provide evidence that discrimination had transpired, was based on sex, and created a hostile or abusive environment (Seaquist, 2012). This situation occurs when supervisors and managers have failed to take steps to implement programs and enforce policies that discourage inappropriate actions or have not successfully educated employees to refrain from engaging in this type of ethical misconduct.

Identifying discrimination laws also protects employees. For example, workers educated in sexual discrimination are better suited to identify it, or come forward to support others they suspect are being exposed to harassment from supervisors or other figures of authority who coercively initiate unwanted advances, favors, or pressures. Furthermore, employees that are not aware of their rights are susceptible to becoming harassment victims themselves, especially in situations where they lack or do not reciprocate feelings towards the individual making the advances.

Many victims are also silent when these events occur, because they are fearful of losing their job or facing other serious repercussions.  Gordon (2007) suggests that there are laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. They require that staff members identify and separate different kinds of sexual interactions. Although the theory seems simple, often it is not easy to approach because there are a variety of effective solutions individuals can take when they are approached by a direct supervisor or an influential authoritative figure that has control over their career (Gordon, 2007). For example, an individual with a history of abuse that enters the workplace may have challenges identifying boundary issues because of the abhorrent conditions and acts of violation from their own past experiences. Most victims of abuse are uneducated and ignorant of their rights. Unfortunately, many out of fear and survival protect their abusers and remain silent. Other individuals with self-esteem issues that typically result from the complexities of a fatherless upbringing can bond and develop affection towards their violators and even protect them. In short, many individuals that have been sexually victimized do not have the effective tools, knowledge, and self-esteem to rely on as a defense mechanism. Many experience anxiety over the possibility of termination from the supervisor that initiated the sexual advances or pressured them using their position of power to do so. People that are not empowered are not only vulnerable to abusers, but are defenseless because they lack the confidence, courage, and support to come forward.


Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

Chopra, D. (2013, August 16). 21 day meditation challenge: Miraculous relationships. Retrieved August 16, 2103, from

Clarkson, K., & Miller, R. (2012). Business law: Text and cases: Legal, ethical, global and corporate environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, L. (2007). The sexual harrassment handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, Inc.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harrassment of working women. Boston, MA: Yale University.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wilde, S. (1987). Life was never meant to be a struggle. Carlsbad, CA, USA: Hay House, Inc.

Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws Part 2

Published September 16, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Part One of this series offered a brief overview of the systems that hiring managers implement to recruit potential top level performers. Part Two provides samples of the components that hiring managers utilize in the hiring process. The following fictitious samples were developed for the purpose of this research and are based on my previous employment experiences in the music industry.


Job Description and Advertisement

Basic Information

Job Title: Administrative Assistant for the West Coast Vice President of Promotion

Job Purpose: The individual will provide administrative services for office systems in accordance with procedures, policies and engage in duties required of that department to the best of their ability, within the ethical framework established as outlined in the corporate employment handbook.

Job Overview: The individual hired for this position is required to perform the duties of the Administrative Assistant to the West Coast Vice President of Promotion that includes active participation and working in partnership with the supervisor and other staff members to build and maintain an ethical climate. The position also offers opportunities for career advancement.

Administrative Assistant Duties:

  • Maintains workflow implemented by systems established, studying models, incorporating cost reductions, reporting procedures and developing new ones.
  • Maintains, creates, and revises systems and procedures by examining operation practices, including data and record keeping systems, forms control, office layout, budgetary and personnel requirements and implementing changes.
  • Supports and develops administrative staff by providing information, educational opportunities and experiential growth opportunities.
  • Resolves administrative problems by coordinating preparation of documents, including reports, spreadsheets, analyzing data and implementing solutions
  • Maintains and ensures operation of equipment including preventive maintenance requirements; calling for repairs; maintaining equipment inventories; and evaluating new equipment, techniques, and technologies.
  • Provides information, as well as answers inquiries and requests.
  • Maintains supply inventories by checking stock to determine inventory level, anticipating need supplies, placing and expediting orders for supplies, and verifying receipt of supplies.
  • Completes operational requirements including scheduling and assigning administrative projects, as well as expediting work results.
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications, establishing personal networks, participating in professional societies.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing results as required.

Job Advertisement for Social Media Outlets

Simulation - This is not a real advertisement

Simulation – This is not a real advertisement

Requirements, Knowledge, Skills, and Aptitudes

Bachelor Degree, Minimum Five Years’ Experience, Reporting skills, Administrative Writing Skills, Computer Technology Skills, Microsoft Office Skills, Managing Processes, Organization, Analyzing information, Professionalism, Problem Solving, Supply Management, Inventory Control, Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Skills.


Legal and Illegal Questions to Ask Potential Hires

Employers are vulnerable to litigation in the pre-employment process if they are not cognizant of employment and discrimination laws.  The most effective hiring managers implement supportive strategies and programs that avoid discrimination to attract top performers.  Seaquist (2012) postulates that company leaders should educate employees and hiring managers when designing the interview process to make sure they do not over step any boundaries.  This means avoiding any questions that would be in violation of Title VII mandates, including: (a) race, (b) sex, (c) national origin, (d) disabilities, and (e) criminal background (Seaquist, 2012).  Information can be obtained with respect to the aforementioned topics as long as they fall within the legal parameters of both Title VII and state regulations.  For example, an interviewer may include a list of different races on the application that the candidate can select, without having to go into further detail about their culture or personal beliefs.


Using this framework as a model, the questions listed below proposed by McKee (2012) will help outline more clearly, inquiries that are considered in compliance with employment laws, as well as those that are not.  Most experts agree that the best strategy is to pose questions that inspire and motivate the individual to speak candidly without adding stress or pressuring them into answering questions the way they believe the interviewer expects.  These questions are formulated to engage the individual in feeling comfortable sharing their experiences and can help alleviate trepidation (McKee, 2012).  The following twenty questions illustrate only a few samples of many that can be considered appropriate and inappropriate during the interview process:

Questions Deemed Legal by the EEOC

1.)   Explain to me why you may be qualified for this job?

2.)   Are you willing to relocate?

3.)   Can you describe a time when your work was criticized? How were you able to manage the situation?

4.)   Can you describe a time when your workload was heavy?

5.)   If you were hired, what will we know about you one year down the road?

6.)   How do you rate yourself as a professional?

7.)   How do you evaluate success?

8.)   How do you handle stress and pressure on the job?

9.)   How does this position fit in with the career path you envision?

10.)  Can you tell us about a failed project?

Questions Deemed Illegal by the EEOC

1.)   How many times have you been married?

2.)   What kind of relationship do you have with your family?

3.)   Have you ever had sex at work?

4.)   Do you steal or shoplift?

5.)   Do you struggle with weight or feel ugly?

6.)   Have you ever been caught cheating on your spouse?

7.)   What have you done with your life so far?

8.)   What are your religious beliefs?

9.)   What is your sexual preference?

10.)   Do you text and drive?


Employers that are not fully aware of employment and anti-discrimination laws will not be effective in the hiring process.  Rassas (2011) reminds us that it is important for business leaders to have a firm grasp of employment laws and to recognize the limitations (Rassas, 2011). Because no single set of employment laws cover all employers or their employees, business leaders that understand the intricate complexities of employment and discrimination laws will have an edge on their competition. In addition, to discover that silver bullet employee, leaders create effective strategies to recruit top level performers and design job descriptions that inspire and motivate candidates.  They design and implement programs that target quality potentials and refrain from using those that focus on attracting quantity.  The findings of this research conclude that even though violating employment laws can lead to litigation, hiring managers interested in recruiting top level performers must be aware and educated in employment and anti-discrimination laws to prevent legal action and costly fines.


Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

McKee, P. (2012). How to answer interview questions. Atlanta, GA: Career Confidential.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


Published September 11, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair


Laws and doctrines help establish the choices that determine the rights of citizens in society regardless of gender, race, or age. Palumbo and Wolfson (2011) explain that many social systems emerged from ancient roots that were cultivated to treat people differently based on the race or sex. In addition, although evidence suggests early matriarchal traditions existed, patriarchal models have dominated Western civilization for millennia (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). In fact, the rise of patriarchy produced the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over family and society as a whole. Furthermore, men held power in all important facets of society. In short, a patriarchal system has been enforced, cultivated, legitimated, and perpetuated in a variety of manners throughout the ages and supported by religion and laws. In modern society, however, these practices are now viewed as a form of discrimination that federal government agencies like the EEOC, oversee based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Discrimination in the workplace is an ongoing issue in the evolution of humanity. According to Seaquist (2012) discrimination in a business environment affects not only the individual, but the climate of the company as a whole (Seaquist, 2012). A leader’s best defense, as in any legal issue, is to keep meticulous records, develop effective strategies and policies to discourage discrimination and incorporate systems to monitor behavior that include checks and balances. The challenge, however, that most leaders face, is that there are many forms of discrimination; it is not isolated to race, age, or sex only. In fact, discrimination can appear in the form of class, level of academics, religious preferences, and even based on the kind of pet an individual has. Discrimination in short is a concept that creates separation and distrust in people because it focuses on their “inequalities.”


Many of the founding fathers of this country believed that equality is the ideal that is at the core and fiber of every human being. Fredman (2011) in the meantime, asked us to contemplate the following concept: “When one person is like another, does that entitle them to be treated alike?” For example, for centuries it was commonly accepted that women were not like men and therefore deserved fewer rights. This concept still exists today in many countries. The same premise is used to deny rights to people of color, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, disability or age. Although one can agree or argue whether individuals are different or alike, many still contemplate as to whether they should or are entitled to be treated equally. This would suggest that the treatment of equality is predicated on the principle that justice is inconsistent. This paradox is evident when we accept that equality is formulated in different ways contingent upon the specific concept that is applied. This explains how the consistencies or inconsistencies of two individuals that appear to be alike, are in fact different in terms of things like: (a) access to power, (b) opportunities, and (c) material benefits that manifest in unequal outcomes. Therefore, an alternative view of inequality emerges that is based on perception of justice that is concentrated on balancing maldistribution (Fredman, 2011). This is one way to explain how discrimination continues to thrive and exist.


Some employers, however, engage in certain kinds of discrimination to justify their business practices. For example, many of the employees hired as cocktail waitresses in certain environments are employed based on a certain attractive look, age, gender and physical features. The reasoning behind this is that it is part of their marketing strategy which is aimed at a dominant male clientele. Although this can be construed as discrimination, EEOC mandates also protect an employer’s right to choose how to run their business and the marketing strategies they deem effective for their industry. As long as a company can produce evidence to support their business is based on profiting by hiring a certain group, whether based on attractive looks, religion, age, gender, or other criteria, the business can engage in this practice legally and within the framework of employment laws. In other words, a business owner can operate an establishment, hire a specific type of employee for specific duties, and the EEOC will not consider it discrimination as long as the employer can provide substantial reason and evidence to support their justification in doing so, that is consistent in their industry. Ultimately, it is the job of each and every business leader to make sure they are familiar with the business laws that govern their industry to ensure that they are not violating any statutes with respect to employment and discrimination laws.


Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.