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In the case Freedom of Expression in the Workplace Barbara Hill is an employee at American Plastic Products Company. In order to do her job Barbara has to walk down a hallway to a meeting room at least once every day. On the walls of the h

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Introduction

CaSarah Severs Business Ethics Paper #3 December 8, 2011 Freedom of Expression in the Workplace In the case "Freedom of Expression in the Workplace" Barbara Hill is an employee at American Plastic Products Company. In order to do her job Barbara has to walk down a hallway to a meeting room at least once every day. On the walls of the hallway are pin-up photographs and calendars of, what one can assume scantily clad females. Barbara went to her supervisor and told him that these photographs offended her. The supervisor immediately removed all the photographs. The next day Barbara overheard two male employees talking about women in an unkind way. Barbara again went to her supervisor and said that conversation between the two male employees offended her. The supervisor discussed the situation with the two male employees, who argued that they were merely expressing their opinions. The question that needs to be answered about this case is was the work environment a hostile work environment? In my opinion the pin-up photographs and calendars and the conversation between the two male employees do not make the work environment a hostile work environment. However, if the supervisor does not handle the situation with careful consideration it could very quickly turn into a hostile work environment. ...read more.

Middle

If the photographs and calendars were placed on the walls after Barbara was hired and hostile comments and situations took place prior to the removal of the photographs then it is very possible, and highly likely, that a hostile work environment existed. This situation is not a hostile work environment because according to our discussion in class five criteria must be met for a situation to be considered hostile. The five criteria according to Epstein are: (1) the harassment must be gender-based, (2) the employer or its agent must perpetuate or condone the harassment, (3) the harassment must be severe or pervasive, (4) the harassment must be unwelcome to its target, and (5) the harassment must create a subjectively and objectively hostile work environment. Although Barbara's situation meets requirements 1, 4, and 5 it does not meet requirements 2 and 3. Therefore because her situation does not meet all five requirements it is not considered a hostile work environment. According to the case when Barbara approached her supervisor and informed him that the photographs on the wall offended her, his reaction was to immediately remove all of the offensive materials. This action shows that criteria 2 - the employer or its agent must perpetuate or condone the harassment - is not met. ...read more.

Conclusion

The conversation was gender-based and it was unwelcome to its target (Barbara). I don't disagree with these facts, however this only meets two of the five criteria (criteria 1 and 4) that must be met and the conversation was most likely generated out of anger. The men were merely looking for someone to blame and because Barbara was the one to go to the supervisor she was the one they blamed. As far as we can tell this was the male employee's first offense and one single isolated event doesn't prove sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. As stated earlier the photographs and calendars were probably offensive in nature. It is also possible that they offended other employees, even male employees. With that in mind, although they were inappropriate and offensive, a hostile work environment did not exist because of the photographs and calendars. Even after the offensive material was removed and the two make employee made inappropriate comments, a hostile work environment did not exist. Sexual harassment would be hard to prove, the supervisor no the company perpetuated or condoned the behavior and the harassment was neither severe nor pervasive. The overall workplace was not pervaded with sexual harassment and Barbara was not hindered from doing her job and performing her duties. ...read more.

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