Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of asexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (29 C.F.R. §1604.11 )
Note the beginning of the definition in the guidelines… “unwelcome sexual advances”. This begs the obvious question… what if the sexual advances are welcomed? Do they still constitute workplace sexual harassment? Take it one step further. How will the aggressor know whether or not his or her advances will be welcomed? Is it not reasonable to conclude that he or she must at least try, albeit with the intention of backing off if the feeling is not mutual? And if it is reasonable to try, then can the first advance be properly considered sexual harassment? Or is it better treated as some sort of an exploration mission? And if and when the mission is successful and the advance is welcomed… do the mutually consenting parties now have a license to pursue their dalliance? And if so where on the workplace? Should the employer facilitate by having a dalliance room and operate like a short-time hotel? In fact could this even become one of the more profitable centers of the workplace with rentals being deducted directly from pay on pay day…
STOP!!!! STOP!!!! The answer to all of the above is “NO!!!” The workplace is for work… not sex, whether welcome or unwelcome sex. And he reasoning is simple. Unless the business is a sex parlor, consensual sex will become a distraction from the productive goals of the business, even if that distraction is attractive. The rule is simple. Anything that does not harmonize with the overall vision and mission of the business is a deterrent to the harmonious environment in which maximum productivity flourishes.
As a result, the workplace must have very clear rules that outlaws any behavior that is socially considered to be beyond the expectations of a healthy, cordial workplace employee interactive behavior. It would be great if workplace harmony leads to workplace matrimony. Just don’t expect any preferential treatment at the workplace when it comes to the global rules of social interaction.
If humans are going to successfully compete against computers and robots that are swiftly taking over their jobs, then we must beat the computer at its own game. Provide our employers with optimal levels of efficiency at all times, and by so doing, increase both our individual and corporate productivity.