The dignity of women at work

The dignity of women at work

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A report on the problem of sexual harassment in the Member States of the European Communities: Parts I-II
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THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN AT WORK
A Report on the Problem of Sexual Harassment in the
Member States of the European Communities
PARTS III
Τ DOGO
ΡΑΦΟ
PAOODOCDMEN
COMMISSION D DOCUMENT DOG
OF THE EUROPEAN
1 COMMUNITIES MENT ΕΓΓΡΑΦΟ This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not
necessarily represent the Commission's official position.
This publication is also available in the following language:
FR ISBN 92-825-8765-7
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Luxembourg : Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1988
ISBN 92-825-8764-9
Catalogue number: CB-53-88-641-EN-C
© ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1988
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source
is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium Commission of the European Communities
THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN AT WORK
A Report on the Problem of Sexual Harassment
in the Member States of the European Communities
PARTS I - II
Document This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not
necessarily represent the Commission's official position.
Copyright ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels - Luxembourg, 1988
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the
source is acknowledged. THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN AT WORK
A Report on the Problem of Sexual Harassment
in the Member States of the European Communities
PART I
by Michael RUBENSTEIN CONTENTS
page
Ch 1 - Introduction and summary 1
Ch 2 - The problem of sexual harassment 12
Ch 3 - The consequences of sexual harassment9
Ch 4 - Legal remedies against sexualt in the 24
Member States
Ch 5 - The need for a Directive on sexual harassment 36
Ch 6 - Defining unlawful sexual harassment 41
Ch 7 - A Code of Practice on preventing sexual harassment 57
Ch 8 - Legal liability for sexual harassment 65
Ch 9 - Sanctions and remedies 72
Ch 10 - Protection of dignity during judicial proceedings 8
Ch 11 - Other recommendations 89
Ch 12 - Conclusions and Recommendations 9Chapter 1
Introduction and Summary
i.l Sexual harassment is a new name describing an old problem.
Generations of women have been subjected to unwanted sexual
attention at work. Yet it was only in the 197ϋε that the term
"sexual harassment" was devised and that the phenomenon came to
be regarded as a suitable subject for discussion.
1.2 This process began in North America, where in the United
States it led to administrative regulations and judicial recogni­
tion that sexual harassment is unlawful sex discrimination.
Awareness quickly spread to Western Europe, culminating in a
series of resolutions from the European Parliament which recog­
nised sexual harassment as a major problem affecting "the dignity
and the rights of women" at work and Council Resolution of 13
December 1984 on the promotion of positive action for women,
which called on Member States to take steps "to ensure... respect
for the dignity of women at the workplace". In Maren 1986, at an
Informal Meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Commission was
requested by Members to initiate research into the problem. The
author's interim report on sexual harassment at work was con­
sidered and approved by the Informal Council in April 1987.
1.3 This report reviews the problems caused by sexual harassment
at work. It finds that the existing laws of Member States are not
suitable for dealing with these problems. It recommends a Com­
munity initiative in the form of a Directive on the Prevention of
Sexual Harassment at Work which would have as its aim protecting workers against the risk of sexual harassment and encouraging
employers to establish and maintain working environments free of
sexual harassment. The possible contents of such a Directive are
set out and a series of other suggestions are made.
1-4 Chapter 2 describes the problem of sexual harassment at work.
Although there are many definitions of sexual harassment. thev
share one common theme.· the essential feature of sexual harass­
ment, is that it is verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in
nature or with a sexual dimension which is unwanted by the
recipient. It is this characteristic which distinguishes harass­
ment from friendly behaviour. Sexual harassment is imposed upon
the victim, often by a superior in the employment hierarchy. ¡;
is not romantic behaviour, for it produces feelings of revulsion.
It is not trivial conduct, for it can damage the victim's health
and drive her to changing employment. It is not prudish or
extremist to be against sexual harassment, anymore than it is
prudish or extremist to oppose rape. Nor is sexual harassment at
work an isolated phenomenon. Chapter 2 reports on recent surveys
in Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. These
all show that tens of millions of women in the EEC suffer sexual
harassment in their working lives.
1.5 The price that is paid as a consequence is considered in
Chapter 3. Harassment is frequently a function of power. Because
women rarely have power over men at work, sexual harassment at
work is mainly a problem affecting women, although men as well as
women can be sexually harassed. Because it imposes conditions of
work upon women that are not inflicted upon men and deprives
women of equal opportunities that are available to men without