Sexual harassment is a very serious problem, especially for the modern society. Basically, this problem may be provoked by a variety of factors but its effects are definitely negative because sexual harassment leads to the growing tension within the organization between members of the staff resulting from inappropriate and unacceptable behavior of a harasser and his/her victim. In fact, it is extremely important to avoid social harassment because it does not only violate the existing social and moral norms, but it is also illegal and the US laws ban any kind of sexual harassment, while court rules created numerous precedents when sexual harassment was recognized as illegal.
However, often the definition of sexual harassment provoked discussions concerning the clear distinguishing of behavior of an individual as sexual harassment. As result, sometimes it was and still to identify the behavior of an individual as sexual harassment.
In the case of the accusation of sexual harassment from the part of a male officer reported by the female officer may be defined as sexual harassment. In fact, it is obvious that the sexual advances of the male officer in the roll call area may be qualified as sexual harassment because it affects the female officer and, what is more, it puts her into disadvantages position because the sexual advancements made by the female officers could be heard by other officers. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the case of Oncale vs. Sundown Offshore Services, from which it is possible to estimate that “any discrimination based on is actionable so long as it places the victim into an objectively disadvantaged working condition”ť may be defined as sexual harassment (Boland, 2002, p.144). In such a situation, it can affect the dignity of the female officer and change her position among other officers because they could view her as the subject of sexual advancement and she is actually unable to protect herself. Neither she can report about the sexual advancements that makes her position practically unbearable. Consequently, her working condition is apparently disadvantaged.
At the same time, the behavior of the male officer is quite typical for a sexual harasser. In this respect, it should be said specialists (O’Shea and LaLonde, 1998, p.221) define such harassers as strategic or territorial harasser because he attempts to maintain job privileges through domination of the female officer and it is particularly embarrassing because the female officer works in the police that is traditionally perceived as a male occupation.
Naturally, the sexual advances of the male officer should be stopped because such a behavior is absolutely unacceptable and it undermines the normal relationship between officers contributing to the formation of opposing groups and generating conflicts between officers. In such a situation, I, as a sergeant with the local police department’s patrol division, should react on such a behavior of the male officer and prevent further attempts of any kind of sexual advances in relation to the victim of sexual harassment. In this respect, I need to act not only because of some moral considerations but also because I should undertake actions in accordance with the existing laws and court rules, which do not admit that I, as a supervisor, remained passive such a situation.
To put it more precisely, even if the case is not investigated, I am still responsible for the prevention of sexual harassment among the officers and, potentially I can be charged for inaction in such a situation. I should say that, in all probability, the case of sexual harassment would not be investigated because the female officer, the victim of the sexual harassment, does not want to report it to me officially since she does not want to deteriorate her position among colleagues. Consequently, it is necessary to force the male officer, the harasser, to change his attitude to his victim and behave in accordance with the existing norms. First of all, it is necessary to explain the officer clearly that he violates the regulations and norms which are established by laws and court rules. For instance, it is possible to refer to the 1986 case of Michelle Vinson vs. Merit One Savings Bank. In this case the Supreme Court recognized that sexual harassment is the violation of Title VII and that sexual harassment actually involves speech or conduct, which in itself, can create a “hostile environment”ť (Boland, 2002, p.181). Obviously, taking into consideration the attitude of the female officer to his sexual advances, his behavior may be qualified as sexual harassment and he should understand this fact. In addition, it is necessary to remind this officer that sexual harassment is punishable. At any rate, according to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the female officer has a right to sue and collect compensatory (punitive) damages for sexual discrimination and harassment. This means that the harasser will be punished and, what is more, it will be necessary to pay off the compensation to the victim for sexual harassment.
Finally, it is necessary to emphasize that the male officer should also perfectly understand the fact that his behavior is absolutely irrelevant to the behavior of the police officer and it is impossible that a person violating legal norms continued his work in the police. As the matter of fact, sexual harassment may lead to the loss of a job by the officer that naturally an undesirable effect for him and, probably, it can force him to change his behavior and attitude. Ideally, the male officer should give his apologizes to the female officer that will ease the tension in their relations and facilitate their further communication as members of one team that is very important for the successful work of the patrol division.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the behavior of the male officer can be defined as sexual harassment. I, being the supervisor, should undertake actions to prevent further sexual advances and protect the victim, even though she is unwilling to report about the case of sexual harassment. The existing legal basis provides ample opportunities to force the harasser to change his behavior.