The Petitioner Harris was a forklift company manager and she claimed that she was insulted by Hardy, Forklift’s president in the work place. During her two years in office, Hardy suggested two of them go to the hotel to discuss matters of promotion and salary increase in presence of others. Also, he used a lot of words that were insulting women. For several times, He asked Harris and other female employees to take coins from his front pocket of his trousers or deliberately drop the something on the ground and ask the employers to pick it up. He made sexual innuendos about Harris’ and other women’s clothing. Harries feels really embarrassed about such kind of things. She have tried to talk about how she feels uncomfortable about his conduct. Hardy expressed that he was just joking and promised he would not do it again. While at one occasion when Harries talk to one customer, Hardy made the sexual joke again. Harris then sued Forklift, claiming that Hardy’s conduct had created an abusive work environment for her because of her gender. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee dismissed the action pursuant to a report and recommendation of a United States Magistrate Judge. Harries appealed. Judgment of Court of Appeals reversed and case remanded.
“Hostile environment” sexual harassment. This sexual harassment occurs in the workplace and was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in 1986. Hostile environmental harassment occurs when the workplace environment makes women feel uncomfortable at work. For example, if a male employee makes a sexist argument, they talk about the woman in a derogatory manner, and under the same conditions male employees get preferential rights while female employees do not have such rights.In the case of Harris v. Forklift Systems (1993), the Supreme Court cited several factors that determine whether a work environment have the characteristics of hostile environmental sexual harassment: the frequency and severity of sex discrimination, and the type of sexual harassment ( Whether sexual harassment is a physical threat, humiliation, or merely abrupt behavior, whether a reasonable person thinks this behavior hinders the employee’s performance.It is explicitly proposed that combine the objective criteria of “reasonable person” with the victim’s subjective feelings to determine whether it has been severe enough to constitute an hostile work environment, thereby greatly reducing the threshold of sexual harassment litigation. The Supreme Court reiterated that the violation of Chapter VII of the Civil Rights Act requires only proof that the victim’s work environment is full of discrimination and unwelcome coercion, depravity and insult, and that the degree is “serious” and the scope is “universal” enough to affect the work. The bill of course prohibits psychological damage to the victim, but also includes behavior that has not caused substantial psychological harm to the victim. In summary, the objective severity of sexual harassment does not rely on abstract judgment, but by assuming that the petitioner is a “reasonable person” with normal and reasonable judgment, considering all relevant circumstances, including considering the social work at that time, the general view of the environment, as well as the reasonable expectations of the relationship with colleagues.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that even if the hostile work environment does not adversely affect the psychological well-being of the victim, it results in a discriminatory effect that affects the employee’s working attitude and career development. As a result, it causes psychological harm. The petitioner do not need to prove that such incidents have reached the point where they have a spiritual breakdown to be remedied by Article VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Such ruling is based on the so-called “reasonable individual”, the “reasonable individual” is the attitude of the average person. Sexual harassment behavior has created a coercive, offensive or hostile work environment. This standard, which is based on the psychological state of the average person and the victim, obviously reduces the victim’s burden of proof, and the requirements for the petitioner does not have to prove that it causes psychological harm. It can be said that the sexual harassment lawsuit is greatly reduced. threshold.
I think the case focuses on what defines the sexual harassment. According to the case of Harris v.Forklift Sys-tems，Inc, the definition of sexual harassment is not an exact mathematical test, and it is impossible to make precise definitions. I believe that when defining the the sexual harassment, there should be a certain amount of flexibility, depending on the specific circumstances. The reason is that interpersonal relations could not be clearly defined in black and white, but they should retain a certain amount of grey space so that everyone can give more care, respect and understanding to each other. Others may point out that in order to prevent sexual harassment, certain topics or behaviors should be totally avoided. While, interpersonal relations will inevitably become rigid if topics and behaviors in interpersonal communication are strictly standard, interpersonal communication, teamwork, and work performance in the organization will be greatly affected too.