Understanding Sexual Harassment Law in Action

Based on the scenario, does Paula have a legally viable claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment harassment?

Based on the scenario, Paula is viable to hostile work environment harassment. Sexual harassment can either be a hostile environment or quid pro quo (MacKinnon & Reva, 2004). Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a directly or indirectly threats of job-related consequence linked to sexual cooperation such as sexual bribe and coercion. It involves a differential power dynamic wherein superiors use their position of authority to make inappropriate requests or demands.

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Hostile environment sexual harassment includes gender harassment such as misogynic and derogatory remarks and unwanted sexual attention (MacKinnon & Reva, 2004). Hostile environment sexual harassment is a less blatant and more common form of sexual harassment than is quid pro quo harassment.

Paula attribution of responsibility and punishment decisions should consider intentionality and coercion. If the behavior in question is perceived as intentional, as would be expected with the incidence of quid pro quo harassment, Steve should ascribe responsibility to Richard by preferring a punishment. From an ethical perspective, behavior that involve the intentional crossing of accepted ethical boundaries should be considered immoral and thus influence subsequent ascription of responsibility and recommended individual action. The perceived level of moral intensity experienced in response to Richard’s behavior is influenced by the perceived degree of social consensus that the act is evil or good as well as the perceived magnitude or severity of consequences caused by that behavior.

Social agreement tends to be higher for actions that are legally prohibited and the serious consequences resulting from such behavior are more likely to prompt ethical reactions. Quid pro quo harassment is more likely to be identified as sexual harassment than hostile environment sexual harassment (MacKinnon & Reva, 2004). Besides, since quid pro quo harassment entails obvious threats to Paul’s career-related opportunities, the potential harmful effects resulting from quid pro quo harassment would be easily identified compared to hostile environment, thereby increasing perceptions of moral intensity. Therefore, Paula to hostile environment sexual harassment since her job was not threatened.

Did Steve properly address Paula’s concerns?

No, Steve failed to address Paula’s concern. Steve should have tried to solve the harassment complaint informally. The aim of the informal resolution is to correct the problem by resolving the issue between the Richard and the Paula. This informal procedure would have resulted in a solution such as asking Richard to change or stop the behavior or seeking a mutually acceptable agreement. There is a need for the company to set guidelines in which the employee behavior are developed by the reward or punishment system. Since Richard is new, the company should teach him beliefs and ideas that have worked well enough to be considered valid. Both Richard and Paul should be taught the correct way to perceive, think and feel.

Can the company be held liable if Paula leaves the Job?

Yes, the company can be held liable. The Bill of Rights in the United States’ constitution calls for the rights of its citizen. These include the right to dignity, equity, privacy and fair practice of labor. Besides the Equity Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines under TitleVII proves a statutory liability where Steve will be held liable for his ignorance to take steps against the questioned sexual harassment or failure for the company to put a grievance procedure in place (Schultz, 2006). However, according to the case study, Steve has done what is relevant to prevent future sexual harassment by requesting Paula to research on measures addressing sexual harassment. In such a case, Steve will escape liability for the misconduct of the worker.


MacKinnon, C. A., & Reva, S. (2004). Directions in sexual harassment law. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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Schultz, V. (2006). Understanding sexual harassment law in action: What has gone wrong and what we can do about it. Thomas Jefferson Law Review, 29, 1-53.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Understanding Sexual Harassment Law in Action." April 21, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/understanding-sexual-harassment-law-in-action/.


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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Understanding Sexual Harassment Law in Action." April 21, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/understanding-sexual-harassment-law-in-action/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Understanding Sexual Harassment Law in Action'. 21 April.

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