EEOC Case Study, Employment Acts and Laws
Part 1: Legal Case Analysis, Colello vs Bayshore
The involved parties were Doris Colello, who was also the plaintiff and Ariel Solis of Bayshore Community Health Services as the defendant. The action was brought by Doris Colello who filed a suit for sexual harassment. The case originated in Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. Ariel Solis, the defendant won the trial at the court level. The defendant was accused of making sexual advances towards the plaintiff. He started by making several advances verbally and after the plaintiff turned them down, he organized a meeting in which he forcefully kissed her on the cheek and then requested for an affair. When the plaintiff made efforts to escape, the defendant grabbed her and kissed her forcefully, then smiled and informed her that it was not over yet.
The relevant facts as defined by the court were that two incidences of sexual harassment had occurred and were deplorable as well as disgusting. Another fact was that Bayshore was not to be accused and even if Solis’ behavior was severe and pervasive, the former could not be judged in the court of law as Solis was just its employee. The precise issues that were being litigated in this respect were that Solis activities did not satisfy the standards required for them to be considered characteristic of a hostile environment. The fact that I would like to know and were not included in the opinion but which could be equally imperative includes the policies governing work ethics and employee conduct at Bayshore.
The precise issue being litigated as defined by the court included Bayshore’s hostile work environment, sexual harassment complaints and assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress and pain by the defendant. I do not agree with the way the court framed this because it omitted important aspects pertaining to aggression and the rejection and the opposition that was exhibited by the plaintiff.
The court dismissed the case on the premise that irrespective of the defendants activities having been disgusting and relatively deplorable, they were not severe and pervasive to the extent of attracting an action under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination 10:5-1 to -49;2. In addition, the court indicated that Bayshore could not be judged as it was the employee and not the institution that participated in the illegal activity.
I do not agree with the court on this decision because the defendant exhibited some degree of aggression towards the plaintiff which was not deterred by rejection. In addition, these actions could be perceived to be threatening. The courts decision was that the respective activities could not meet the standards required to qualify this as a hostile environment (Langslow, 2006). This was based on the fact that the inherent facts in this regard needed to be always perceived in light of gender-specific standards. I do not agree with this rationale because it undermines the judgment of certain cases whose activities constitute violence but which do not meet the established standards.
This has far reaching implications on the health sector as it implies that nurses are likely to continue suffering harassment in the hands of physicians. Further, it becomes difficult to hold the institutions responsible because the physicians are merely their employees. To address this, the healthcare needs to devise measures that would make the health institutions responsible for the activities of their employees (Bender & Finnis, 2005). This would ensure that the respective employees take caution. If the case could have been decided differently, incidences of harassment of nurses in the health care system would be minimal. It is because viable measures would have been undertaken to counter the scenario.
It is certain that sexual harassment at the work place undermines employee performance and may have severer implications in the long run. As a manager in this regard, I would take time to investigate the matter and have all facts and issue about the complaint. Having these facts would give me a ground to warn the problematic employee and remind him about the work place policies regarding sexual harassment. Then, I would advise the female employee to file an official complaint if the behavior persists. This would then enable me to take a legal action against the offensive employee.
Response to John
It would be important to investigate the matter in order to determine if the alleged offensive activities are welcome or not. It is also a good idea to inform and or remind the employees about the policies governing work ethics and the work place to enable them make informed decisions.
Bender, P. & Finnis, J. (2005). Sexual Harassment in Nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25, 163-9
Langslow, A. (2006). Dealing with Sexual Harassment. Australian Nursing Journal, 3, 32-6.
Madison, J. (2007). Experiences of Sex Based harassment. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 14, 29-37.