Business law and corporate ethics are significant components at any place of work. They provide parameters within which employees and their employers are supposed to operate. Goals and objectives of any corporate entity can only be exhaustively achieved when right conventional practices are embraced by every member whose contribution is valued at the workplace. However, sometimes inappropriate behaviors propagated by some personnel or even employers themselves can become obstructive to the attainment of the intended goals. It is for this reason that the governments in conjunction with labor organizations do enact necessary laws to curb such happenings. The most common inappropriate behavior that companies as well as public service sector grapples with is sexual harassment. This refers to sexual advances or requests for sexual favors that are unwelcome. It may be verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature perpetrated against an employee by the employer, employee against fellow employee or even a client. The purpose of submission to or rejection of this kind of conduct may be the basis for decisions of employment or merely creating an offensive, intimidating, or hostile working environment. The crime is usually committed by those workers in senior positions against inferior workers of the opposite sex or those who are seeking employment. Some notorious employers also do indulge in such malpractices as a basis to raise the victims’ scale of remuneration, promotion, and other privileges that are available at the place of work. In explaining the dynamics that surround this particular vice at workplaces, this essay features the case in which Marwan, a former character actor at Studio Five Theme Park, was implicated in a number of sex scandals. One of them, however, saw his tenure terminated despite his position and competence that he had exhibited in his performance. In this respect, the essay analyses the subsequent reaction of Marwan, the victim, as well as the labor organization with respect to the United States Law.
Analysis of Marwan’s Conduct
Civil Rights Laws
Marwan committed the crime of sexual harassment against his fellow female worker indicated in the Title VII Civil Rights Act 1964. This is a federal law which prohibits all forms of discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, gender, race, nationality, color, and religion. The law often applies to employers with more than fifteen employees, including local, state, as well as federal governments. This behavior is also prohibited under the company’s anti-harassment policy in accordance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The laws may also apply to the Marwan’s conduct of placing his hands on the female guests’ behinds while posing for picture.
Although it is said that the victims did not complain, perhaps not minding or ostensibly taken by surprise and not knowing how to react, Marwan molested them sexually since the act was not consensual. The park guests may have found his behavior weird but still failed to report or complain since they were visitors to the park. At the same time, Marwan was in a dignified position, and he would use his powers to circumvent the repercussions of his acts were they to launch complaints against him. In addition, given that these were just guests, perhaps they did not find it fair to indulge into friction with the host. Otherwise, under the Title VII laws of Civil Rights Act, this action could have serious prosecution and subsequent sentence in prison. It is unlikely that he thought about the consequences of these acts; instead, he perfected the art thus becoming an accomplished flirt.
The worst occurrence happened when he grabbed the breast of his fellow female actor who had been recently employed. This was cognizant of her rights and freedoms with respect to her relationship with the seniors at work. She also knew what would befall him if she kept quiet after being molested by her boss, Marwan. She therefore took the step of reporting the incident to the authorities with full confidence in the laws enshrined in the Title VII Civil Rights Act (1964) in spite of Marwan’s threats.
Type of Sexual Harassment
It is clear from this explanation that Marwan committed sexual harassment to the guests as well as newly hired co-worker. The type of sexual harassment he committed is referred to as hostile work environment. This is the kind of sexual molestation where the perpetrator creates an unpleasant and offensive work environment for fellow workers. This kind of harassment consists of verbiage of a sexual nature, unwelcome physical conduct, and unwelcome sexual materials among others. This is unlike ‘Quid pro quo’ harassment, in which submission to harassment is often used as a basis for making employment decisions. It is therefore mostly perpetrated by the employer who links employee benefits such as promotions, salary rise, and better working hours directly to compliance with sexual advances.
The nature of Marwan’s employment is tricky. Despite the fact that he loves his job and has risen through ranks to seniority due to his outstanding performance, he did not have an employment contract. This makes his situation complicated, because he cannot be recognized under the labor laws. Similarly under the severance policy of the company, Marwan cannot be compensated for his untimely dismissal. This is because he was not bound by any terms of service. There is also no legal basis to peg his claims of having been dismissed due to his physical disability. Whether that was true, it was supposed to be reflected in the dismissal letter which apparently he was never issued with. Where employment contracts are engaged formally, dismissals are also done formally. In case of failure, the employer can be sued for precocious termination of an employee.
Appropriate Action by Studio Five
Given that Marwan had an excellent record of performance at Studio Five despite his misbehavior, the management could have considered a number of actions other than summary dismissal. In my opinion, the management made a big mistake to hire his services without a formal contract. This is similar to exploitation because he has been dismissed without any sympathy or consideration of how he will begin a new chapter of his life. It is also possible that Marwan never went through any formal orientation at work to familiarize with the regulations and the code of ethics. This is why he could perpetuate the practice of sexual harassment without any thoughts about the underlying consequences to his career. The first step that the Studio Five could have taken against him would have been to give him a written warning for his action. The warning could have been elaborated on the possible litigation measures that Marwan risked were he to repeat his mistake.
Another activity could have demoted him from the position he was holding. This position possibly contributed to his carelessness as he misused the authority that was coupled with it. This would have served as a good disciplinary measure as he was given another chance to correct his behavior. Besides, he could have been put through counseling sessions to help him unlearn the erroneous behavior. Firing Marwan could have come as the last resort when all possible ways of taming him had failed. This is because eliminating him from Studio Five does not mean his wrong trait of molesting the female people would also be eradicated. I believe that through counseling he would have been helped to reform and become a responsible citizen who respected himself as well as the rights of other citizens, whether at the workplace or outside. Finally, to show its institutionalized structure of operation, the management of Studio Five could have formalized Marwan’s employment through signing of the contract. This would help him realize and work in accordance with the binding terms and conditions of service. It is also good not just for him as an employee but also to the employer and the Marwan’s kin. In case Marwan finds it difficult to correct his behavior, it would be very easy for the management to take legal measures against him since he would be a recognized employee.
Similarly, in case Marwan would be incapacitated due to his disability or even die while still working for the Studio, his kin will find it easier to make claims of his compensation. Otherwise, I would not recommend the dismissal upon receipt of the complaint from the lady who was purportedly sexually maltreated by Marwan. In fact, it is possible for Marwan to launch a law suit against the company for being sacked prematurely. With the help of competent lawyers, the company would definitely be found guilty for exploiting Marwan.
Marwan’s Allegation of Discrimination
Immediately after being fired, Marwan fabricated the case to attribute his sacking to his prosthesis condition. Although it is true that he has been living with this condition since he was employed, the condition was unobtrusive and therefore no one noticed it. It is obvious that his claims would not suffice to salvage him or influence his recoupment. The management will definitely reject the claims, because Marwan did not share them before. Furthermore, the management will have to refute his claims by unveiling the evidence of what contributed to his sacking. This will entail bringing along the sexually molested lady to give her testimony against Marwan’s claims. Though Marwan will also display his prosthetic leg before court as an exhibit, the management will proof to judges that this was not the basis for the sacking of Marwan. This situation is also very tricky as it may not work well for either party. Marwan will definitely be found guilty for deliberately lying before court. This offense can as well land him into more troubles apart from the fact that he is left without his job. It can still necessitate fresh investigation into the allegations regarding the basis for his sacking. This is equally criminal and warrants a jail sentence. Therefore, if Marwan may end up facing two suits related to his conduct.
On the other hand, Studio Five may also be found guilty with at least two accusations. First, it will be faulted for violating the labor laws of hiring and firing. According to these laws, the employer is only required to sack an employee after a warning depending on the nature of mistake done. Although some offenses such as sexual harassment usually call for summary dismissal without prior warning, it would have been done formally with the issuance of a dismissal letter and severance package for the sacked employee. Similarly, if the offense committed would have been in breach of the federal laws, the company could have taken the initiative to report the matter to the police. The police could have investigated and subsequently sued the culprit other than just releasing him to the society scot free. How sure was the management that Marwan would not repeat the offense elsewhere? Furthermore, he could still launch a retaliatory attack on the complainant or even the company.
Defenses that Studio Five Can Give if Sued
In case the female employee sued Studio Five Theme Park following Marwan’s misconduct, the management of the Studio may have to distance itself from the blame by providing the code of ethics before court. Usually all employees are supposed to scrutinize this code during their orientation once they are hired. Therefore, as an employee, Marwan was supposed to have read and understood the code of ethics as well as the repercussions of the violations of the contents of the same code. Apart from that, Marwan is an adult who is governed by the federal laws just like other citizens. The law could take its course against him even if he were not an employee of Studio Five Them Park. It is therefore unfair for the court to administer punitive measures against the Studio on behalf of Marwan. In my opinion, Studio Five will not be liable for Marwan’s conduct.
However, since Marwan was perfected this habit of harassing ladies sexually over a long time without the management noticing, it is also possible that the company followed hands-off approach in dealing with their employees. It can easily be believed that through this kind of negligence, Marwan took advantage to perpetuate the erroneous behavior thinking that no one would realize it. Following this, the court can label partial liability of Marwan’s conduct to Studio Five. The action would foster vigilance in the management so that it reinforces the implementation of the corporate code of ethics and ensures the habit is not repeated by any other person in the system. The victim who is also newly employed will be right to sue Studio Five because she believes all employees should have been oriented properly about these laws on civil rights as well as the hiring and firing laws. She therefore requires compensation from the damage she went through during sexual molestation by Marwan.
Provisions of Labor Union
In case Marwan were a member of a union which had a collective bargaining agreement with Studio Five, the situation would change. First, it would have been difficult for the management to sack him the way it did. This is because Marwan were legally bound to the provisions of the union. He would therefore have his formal contract and the dismissal letter which he would use to launch a legal suit against Studio Five. Under labor laws, Marwan could be entitled to a specific compensation especially following his prosthesis condition. This is actually regarded as a condition of disability, and such employees have certain inalienable rights that are unique from those without disabilities. Secondly, the labor laws sanction all employers to prepare employees psychologically before relieving them of their responsibilities. In this case, Marwan could have been issued with one month notice in advance stating categorically the intensions of the company to relieve him. No employer is allowed anywhere to dismiss an employee on a short notice even if he were entitled to his salary for the then particular month. The action can sometimes be detrimental not just to the victim but also extends to his or her dependents. As such, the labor union does that to cushion the victim and their kin for the period of transition as the victims look for alternative employment or means of earning income. Conversely, in case the sacking were based on the fact that Marwan were a criminal, the union would still fault Studio Five for the action it had taken. First, it is not an investigative agency that can determine whether the culprit was guilty of the alleged crime or not. What if the allegations could turn out to be a mere set up by Marwan’s fellow employees to outdo him from his position? To be on the safe side, the management of Studio Five could have taken the initiative to engage the investigative body to interrogate the suspect concerning the sexual harassment assertions labeled against him. In case he had been found culpable of the purported crime, he would have been sued by the authorities in accordance with the federal and labor laws. The step that the management took to hurriedly fire Marwan following the allegations would backfire and become detrimental to the company. In fact, if Marwan had a formal contract with the company he would have been advised to sue Studio Five for the breach of the contract provisions and violation of labor laws. The lady would also stand to be accused by Marwan for defamation of character.
How Companies Can Avoid Harassment of Their Employees
In order to avoid harassment of employees, companies can employ relevant policies, procedures, and actions which are mentioned below. First, it has to formulate clear policies on hiring and firing of employees. All employees should be contracted formally before they begin rendering their services to the company. This process usually ensures that they become acquainted with the underlying regulation of the company and the code of ethics. The procedures of termination of the contracts should also be well spelt out. In case that happens, there should be someone to witness issuance and receiving of the dismissal letter. Similarly, there should be clear regulations and policies to guide the relationship between the employer and the employees. The same should also be extended to the relationship among employees and between employees and the guests or clients. This would eliminate cases where the company employers or employees compromise their integrity because of careless relationships. Finally, the employer should have a policy on severance package just in case employees are dismissed. This is imperative since it will help them during transition from one job to another.
Dealing with inappropriate behaviors at work places can be complicated, especially if there are no clear policies and procedures to guide actions of employers in reaction to the employees’ behaviors. It is possible that in the case of Marwan, the employer may have dismissed him out of anger following the report that he indecently received from the fellow employee. Therefore, it is recommended to abstain from immediate firing of the employees as indicated in this example. It is also transpired that such actions can be risky even to the management especially if the system has not been institutionalized yet. It is inappropriate that an employee such as Marwan would work and gain fame for the company, while the employer have not formalized the contract with them. Absence of the work contract should not be tolerated and has no defense before the law. It can be assumed that the company did that to circumvent the provisions of the law regarding employment and the employee’s terms of service. This also breaches the labor laws and civil rights. The discussed case is a good lesson to many employers who may be perpetuating similar inaccuracies. These cases are prevalent in the contemporary society following the scarcity of employment opportunities and the competitiveness of the majority of job atmospheres. It is however sad that a bigger percentage of cases go unreported as the victims reject the advances. A few of those who report these cases usually end up in frustration especially if there is insufficient evidence to facilitate a successful litigation process.