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Creating a safe work environment

Creating A Safe Work Environment

You wouldn’t think that giving someone a compliment, like "Hey you look sexy today", would be considered harassment. However, in today’s world anything is possible. Sexual harassment has become a big issue in society and sometimes a person can take it to the extreme. There are many things that can be considered harassment, there are many ways to prevent it, and there are things you can do to help yourself if you are a victim. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment. Moreover, when giving in to or rejection of this conduct openly or perfectly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individuals work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following: The victim as well as the harasser may be man or woman. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or release of the victim. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome. It is helpful for the victim to directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should report the incident immediately after it happens. Do not hesitate; otherwise, your report may not be taken seriously. When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A purpose on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis. Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or complaint process and taking immediate action when an employee complains. Does sexual harassment just happen in the workplace? No, it happens everywhere including schools across America. It can happen as early as elementary school. However, harassment is more common in high school. Sometimes, older students taunt younger ones with sexual insults. This happened in one school where seventh graders were making sexual comments to a nine-year old girl on the bus. Does sexual harassment just happen to girls? No, both boys and girls can be victims of sexual harassment. Although girls experience sexual harassment more frequently, boys also suffer from thing like being called names or having their pants being pulled down in public. While there’s no need to label young children as harassers, it is important to educate children about sexual harassment and why it’s harmful to all students. Very simply, sexual harassment is any unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with ones education or work performance. Some examples include: sexual insults, whistling, catcalls, pressure for sexual activity, and pinching. Not all-physical conduct would be considered sexual in nature. Some examples are: a high school athletic coach hugging a student who made a goal or an employer consoling an employee with a hug. Sexual harassment is an important issue and should not be taken lightly; on the other hand, it should not be taken out of control either.

The principles of drug testing have become an increased concern for many companies in the recent years. More companies are beginning to use it and more people are starting more to have problems with it. The tests are now more than ever seen as a way to stop the problems of drug abuse in the workplace. This brings up a very large question. Is drug testing a fair way to decide employee drug use? It is also very hard to decide if the test is an invasion of employee privacy. The ethical status of workplace drug testing can be expressed as a question of competing interests, between the employers right to use testing to reduce drug related harms and maximize profits, over against the employee’s right to privacy, particularly with regard to drug use, which occurs outside the workplace. The rights of the employee have to be considered. The Supreme Court case, Griswold vs. Connecticut outlines the idea that every person is entitled to a privacy zone. However this definition covers priv!

acy and protection from government. To work productively especially when the work may be physical it is nearly impossible to keep one’s privacy. The relationship between employer and employee is based on a contract. The employee provides work for the employer and in return he is paid. If the employee cannot provide services because of problems such as drug abuse, then he is violating the contract. Employers have the right to know many things about their employees. The employer can even investigate Job skills and training. The employee is to perform services and these services must be done in a certain manner. Someone who is baffled because of drug abuse cannot be a leader for example. This is why employers can test to see if characteristics or tendencies would affect performance. An employee may not want to give a urine or blood sample. The employee may not want to include all of their references but this is besides the fact that an employer is entitled to them. More and more employers are starting to feel this way. A 1996 survey by the American Management Association found 81 percent of major U.S. companies had drug-testing programs at that time compared with 78 percent in 1995 and just 22 percent in 1987. The employer has a right to only certain information and the line must also be drawn in the procedure to obtain the information. For example a polygraph has been known to make mistakes so this cannot be the sole source of information. The procedure in which the tests are taken is a major concern. This decision went all the way to the Supreme Court. Samuel K. Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association found that urine and blood tests were minimally interfering. The taking of blood was found to cause no real pain or risk and is commonly done in ordinary life. The taking of urine in a medical situation with no observation was also found not to cause intrusions. Drug tests check for illegal substances. With this accuracy, drug testing is the most trliable way to find which employees are using drugs. While some could argue that a certain employee's performance on drugs would be below the level of another employee's performance that is not on drugs but is just a poor performer. This leads into the most important point of the entire essay that employees have the right to a workplace that is free from the many problems of drugs. It could possibly be argued that since employers have to allow their employee’s time off and times of decreased performance due to problems such as sickness and pregnancy that they should allow excuses for drugs. However drug use is an addiction. Depending on the addiction it must be met frequently. Problems such as sickness go away but addictions are constant and not allowable. The work that the employee puts in should be their best. Since the employer has purchased the employees time, the employer has a right to ensure that the time purchased is used as efficiently as possible. Many people have a problem with employees having to choose between their job and their drugs. For example what if the person is hooked and cannot do anything about their addiction. Should the person have to live with no means of income because of their addiction? It is a difficult question to answer. Addicts are people who have needs like anyone else. Should they be denied the means to basic necessities such as food and shelter that a job would provide? The solution to this problem should be found in treatment to the individual while they maintain their job. The drug testing itself forces employees to confront the problems that they have. It is possible that people will see companies as cruel when they try to get the most production out of their people. However, a work force that is clean and sober is a win for both sides. The financial status of the company is naturally tangled with the good of employees; as the corporation becomes increasingly profitable, employees are increasingly benefited. Some parties argue placing employees in a position where they must choose between maintaining their privacy or losing their jobs is basically coercive. This decision is easy to make for most employees and they take the test. Those people who already are in employment and refuse become suspect. People who are applying for jobs and refuse are not considered at all or seen on an extremely negative scale. Another argument that has a number of holes through it is the idea that what an employee does on their own time is their own decision. This should be allowable for most things even those on the borderline. An employer may not want their employees to go hunting or skydiving on the weekends because of the potential for harm to the investment a company has in an employee. However, this should not be enforceable because it has no everyday effect on their work. Unless the person perishes in a crash, skydiving has no effect on a person's Monday morning management skills. Now if an employee is involved with illegal drugs on their own time the effects stay behind in their system. Even when there are no drugs in the system this is when the body craves more to satisfy their addiction. An addiction is not able to stay just within the boundaries of the employee’s own time. There should be an outline for giving the tests. The tests should be given only when the behavior is unusual and bizarre. The tests should be given without prior notice to reduce the chance that employees could foil the test. The employees that fail the test should be allowed to keep their jobs while receiving their treatment. Termination should only come after treatment has been refused or failed.

Is it fair that men make more money than women do, even though they both have the same qualifications? Is it fair that women are less likely than men to get promoted are? Is it fair that women start at lower positions in the work place than men do? Discrimination in the work place is hindering gender relations in today’s modern society. Women are getting fed up with always being treated unfairly by the employers. They feel that employers should base their decision on who can do the better job, not who is the male and who is the female. Hiring, promotion, and salaries are the three main factors that separate the men from the women in the work place. In hiring, men are much more likely to get a job than women are. Although in the last 10 to 15 years, women have gradually closed the gaps. In 1974, 14 to 25% of women earned bachelor degrees in computer and mathematical science. While in 1989, the women that earned the same degrees were 33 to 37% of the graduates. Now, because the percentage of bachelor degrees has increased during that period, you would think that the hiring increase would be the same. Well, the hiring of women has only increased about 5%. So, are employers really looking for who gets hired with what degree or is it unrelated? I feel that for the most part, employers do look at the accomplishments of a future employee, regardless of gender. In the past, that might have been different, but today, an employer would hire a more highly skilled women worker, than an average male worker. I think employers have a sort of obligation to hire the women. The companies sometimes feel that if they don’t hire enough women, a discrimination suit could arise and that would hurt not only the company financially, but their reputation as well. In almost every industry, women occupy a very small proportion of the higher-level positions. For example, a 1988 study found that only three CEO’s among the Fortune 1000 were women, and only 1.7% of the COO’s, CFO’s and executive VPs were women. In a 1993 study of Stanford MBA’s, graduates from the class of 1982 were tracked over time. It was found that 71% of the men are currently in the top four rungs of management, whereas only 34% of women had reached those positions. In what I consider a very interesting faction, Business Week did a report in 1987 in which they tracked 100 women executives who were on the fast track from as far back as 1976. They found that none of those 100 women had made it to the top position in a public corporation unless they started the business or inherited the position. Statistics imply that that gender discrimination is present in the academic world as well; most colleges employ more male than female professors. As shown earlier, the problem is not that larger proportions of trained women are not available. Women are not represented at the highest ranks of companies and in the academics because, for some reason, their rate of progression is halted somewhe!

re along the way to the top. I think the progression might have been stopped starting in the early nineties. High-ranking men were probably feeling insecure about the whole "women in power" movement. So, they did whatever they could do stop the women before they get to powerful. The salary picture for women is even more unreasonable than that for promotion. Women regularly make less money than men do in almost every industry, even when they first start their jobs. An American Demographics study found that women working full time with two or fewer years of experience earn 72% less than men with the same experience. Things haven’t always been like this, though. In 1955, women earned more of a percentage of men's salaries than they did in 1987, 63.9 cents vs. 63.7 cents. Part of the reason for the wage gap is that women don't get promoted as quickly as men. However, a gap still appears between the two. In some cases, it depends on the job. For example, among " programming managers," women made 98% of men's salaries, but among IS directors or managers, women made 82% of men's salaries. Another explanation for the increasing wage gap are that women sometimes choose professions that pay less and professions that you need less experience than men of the same age, because they take time off to raise children. Another researcher analyzed the qualifications of 194 corporate managers randomly chosen from 800 people who took a leadership course. He found that if women were men with the same qualifications, they would earn about 18 percent more. These figures can only be explained by discrimination. Why should a woman get less money for a job that she is equally or more qualified? This question goes back to what was stated earlier in that men are feeling insecure and are afraid of how powerful women might become. And in most cases, men are the ones in charge and men are the ones who make the big decisions in a corporation and decide who does/doesn’t get hired. The fairness of men making more money than women, even with the same qualifications; the fairness of men getting promoted first over a woman; the fairness of women starting at a lower position than a men. In addition, it isn’t right that women are based on their physical, emotional, and social structures, rather than their overall ability to get the job done. When will women be treated as equals to men in the work place? I do not predict a change happening in the near future. Women are slowly being treated more as equals to men but the gap will never narrow to complete fairness. Women should, not only be treated as equal in the work place, but also in everything else as well. Whether it is a computer scientist, an athlete, or a president of the United States, women should be treated as equal to men. Gender discrimination has gone too far and we, as a society, have to draw the line. We can’t change the past issues, but we can certainly change the future.

Is electronic mail private to employees of a company or if it is right for the Company to monitor and view their employee’s e-mail and other electronic communications? Ninety percent of all companies with 1,000 or more employees are using e-mail. E-mail and voice-mail are everyday to most companies these days. E-mail is a giant step towards the "paperless" office. E-mail is also a great time and paper saver. Gone are the days of Xeroxing memo's for each employee, e-mail is much faster and easier on the environment. These new technologies are changing communications in the workplace and are creating new problems for employers and employees. These technologies are also allowing employers to monitor employees in new ways. All e-mails are viewable by employers, even if they have been "deleted" by the employee. Employer’s reasons for monitoring their employee’s e-mail are to investigate and prevent illegal activities and to evaluate employee performance. Company's feel that what takes place on their premises is company property and therefore they have the right to monitor e-mail. Employees feel in some cases, this is a violation of their privacy rights. I feel I have to agree with employers on this issue, however, to a point. I feel employers do have the right to access employees e-mail with the employee's consent as to when and how often and for what purpose. I feel there are differences as to why an employer would want to monitor e-mail. If an employee is strictly in a data entry, word processing or customer service position, I can understand the employer's need to monitor for speed and accuracy. However, I feel for employees who are not in these types of positions, some sort of honesty must exist. I feel an employer should only have the right to monitor or retrieve e-mail if suspicion of fraud or illegal activities exists. I feel employees need to be aware that companies can monitor their e-mail, that it is not entirely private. Some employees may not understand that e-mail, regardless if it is saved or deleted, can very easily be retrieved from backup systems. Companies should institute a policy stating computer use should be restricted to Company usage and e-mail should be regarded as a business tool. The policy should explain the manner in which e-mail and computer monitoring will take place. The employee has the right to know how often they will be monitored. I feel random viewing of e-mails is an invasion of privacy, as would be bugging an employee's office, which is virtually the same idea. Ideas, jokes and gossip in an office environment are going to be exchanged whether it is verbal or sent via e-mail. One case study about the misuse of email privileges is about the black employees at Morgan Stanley & Co. suing for racist jokes sent via e-mail, I feel the company does have the right to intercept such e-mails. These types of e-mails are highly offensive, regardless of the intent of the sender. These types of jokes would be offensive to a reasonable person. Employees should use judgment with what they choose to send via e-mail. What someone wouldn't say in person shouldn't be sent via e-mail would be a general rule of thumb. Inappropriateness is uncalled-for. Just as we discussed in class regarding sexual harassment, regardless of meaning, the guilty party should be addressed and warned this type of humor is inappropriate in the workplace. Depending on the severity of the e-mail, disciplinary actions should be taken. On a day-to-day basis, I feel clean jokes and humor should be allowable via e-mail or any type of communications in the office. E-mail is just another way of communicating. Whether a joke is told via e-mail or face to face, employees still need to use discretion. Often, things may be said which you wish you had not said but the same could be true in an e-mail or voice mail situation. The only difference being hard proof exists when you use e-mail or leave a voice mail. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act is the only federal statute that deals with e-mail issues. Briefly, the ECPA makes it unlawful to intentionally intercept communications. Some argue that the ECPA wasn't specifically including e-mail and voice mail at the time the law was passed. I feel the major value at stake is the issue of privacy. Although company's feel they may need to monitor employee's electronic communications for profit loss due to illegal activities, I feel the benefits of e-mail far outweigh the potential hazards. Companies should extend honesty to their employees if they want honesty in return. Again, I feel companies should institute a policy to explain to their employees exactly how and when they plan to monitor employee's electronic communications. Employees should know how their privacy might be violated. Then employees know they may be monitored and may use more discretion then if they don't know the company's feelings on this topic.

Bibliography:

1) "Facts About Sexual Harassment". The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 15 January 1997. 10 October 2000. http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-sex.html.

2) "What Can Parents Do at School?" Sexual Harassment at School: What Every Parent Should Know. 12 October 2000. http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,4-4640-0-3,00.html

3) Frenkel, Karen. "Women and Computing," Communications of the ACM, November 1990.

4) Mahar, Maggie, "The Truth About Women's Pay," Working Women Magazine, April 1993.

5) Schwartz, Joe, "Closing the Gap," American Demographics, January 1988,

6) Smith, Rebecca and James Mitchell, "A Stanford MBA Does Not Assure Equal Pay,"

7) White, Jane. "A Few Good Women: Breaking the Barriers to TopManagement."Prentice-Hall, 1992.

8) E-mail's popularity poses workplace privacy problems http://www.amcity.com/columbus/stories/1997/1

9) DominoPower - Email, Privacy and the Workplace http://www.dominopower.com/issues/issue199809

10) E-mail Privacy in the Workplace -- To What Extent? http://www.cl.ais.net/lawmsf/articl9.htm

11) Workplace Drug Testing http://www.workplacedrugtesting.com/

12) 1/22/97 - News: Court Weighs Mandatory Drug Tests for Candidates http://www.edweek.org/ew/vol-16/17scotus.h16

13) Drug Detection Times - Drug Testing in the Workplace http://jobsearchtech.about.com/library/weekly



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