Justice, sexual harassment, and the reasonable victim standard

Journal of Business Ethics 12 (6):423 - 431 (1993)
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In determining when sexual behavior in the workplace creates a hostile working environment, some courts have asked, Would a reasonableperson view this as a hostile environment? Two recent court decisions, recognizing male-female differences in the perception of social sexual behavior at work, modified this standard to ask, Would a reasonablevictim view this as a hostile environment? As yet, there is no consensus in the legal community regarding which of these standards is just.We propose that moral theory provides the framework from which business people can construct just procedures regarding sexually hostile environments. We argue that the natural duty of mutual respect of persons and the natural duty not to harm the innocent compels business people to identify sexually hostile work environments from the perspective of the reasonable victim, usually from the woman's perspective.



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