Question : Teresa Harris was a manager at Forklift
Teresa Harris was a manager at Forklift Systems; Charles Hardy was its president. Hardy frequently made inappropriate sexual comments to Harris and other women at the company. For example, he said to Harris, in the presence of others, "You're a woman, what do you know?" and "We need a man as the rental manager." He called her "a dumb ass woman" and suggested that the two of them "go to the Holiday Inn to negotiate her raise." He also asked Harris and other female employees to get coins from his front pants pocket. He insisted that Harris and other women pick up objects he had thrown on the ground. When Harris complained to Hardy, he apologized and claimed he was only joking. A month later, while Harris was arranging a deal with one of Forklift's customers, he asked her, in front of other employees, "What did you do, promise the guy some sex Saturday night?" Harris sued Forklift, claiming that Hardy had created an abusive work environment. The federal trial court ruled against Harris on the grounds that, while Hardy's comments might offend a reasonable woman, they were not severe enough to have a serious impact on Harris's psychological well-being. The appeals court confirmed, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. Issue: To be a violation of Title VII, must sexual harassment seriously affect the employee's psychological well-being? Decision: No, a hostile or abusive environment violates Title VII, whether or not the plaintiff suffered psychological injury. Reasoning: Title VII is not limited to economic or tangible discrimination. A workplace loaded with intimidation, ridicule, and insult creates an abusive environment that violates Title VII. Merely uttering a swear word or two is not a violation because a reasonable person would not find that hostile or abusive. But Title VII does come into play before the victim has a nervous breakdown. An abusive environment that does not seriously affect employees' psychological well-being, nonetheless, may detract from their job performance and keep them from advancing in their careers. If the environment would reasonably be perceived, and is perceived, as hostile or abusive, Title VII does not require it also to be psychologically injurious. Required: a. What is sexual harassment? b. What are the two major categories of sexual harassment? c. Which type was present in this case?