Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Workplace sexual harassment cases have garnered increased
attention in the media despite the confidentiality of proceedings.
Mediation, as opposed to litigation and arbitration, approaches the
issue between the harasser and victim from an integrative approach
that asserts the power each party. In one study, seventy-seven percent
of claimants who turned to mediation were satisfied with their fair
results.1 Mediation should be used to resolve most sexual harassment
claims because mediation allows for mutually beneficial monetary
settlements, confidentiality, and empowered choices in deciding the
terms sheet. Many of the disadvantages cited as the flaws of
mediating workplace sexual harassment can be ameliorated within the
confines of the process that currently exists.
Fifteen percent of women and five percent of men each year in
the American workforce experience sexual harassment encounters.
That accumulates to fifty to eighty percent of the entire workforce,
however approximately ninety percent of that demographic do not
report.2 Systemic and prevalent, sexual harassment impairs the
workplace. Further, the lack of reporting does not mean that
addressing sexual harassment claims is an inexpensive endeavor
overall. In 1998, the typical Fortune 500 spent 6.7 million dollars a
year on legal fees related to sexual harassment disputes.3
Sexual harassment can include any form of unwelcome sexual
advances, sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct when
explicitly or implicitly making them a requirement of employment.4
Specific forms in the workplace involve indecent gestures, leering,
sexually suggestive comments about appearance, and unwanted
touching. Mediation has emerged as the popular format to address
sexual harassment because mediation is flexible in timing, price,
opportunity, and format and may encourage more people to report.
Juliana Batista is a senior majoring in Industrial & Labor Relations with minors in
Economics and Business at Cornell University. She is President of the Student Assembly
and participates in mock arbitrations.