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Resolutions & Amendments

29th International Convention - Miami, FL (1990)

Sexual Harassment

Resolution No. 39
29th International Convention
June 25-29, 1990
Miami, FL


Numerous surveys have shown that the majority of working women as well as an increasing number of men have been victimized by sexual harassment at sometime during their careers; and


Sexual harassment can have devastating psychological, physical and economic consequences for its victims; and


The United States Supreme Court unanimously held in Meritor Savings and Loan v. Vinson that unwelcome, sexually directed behavior at the work place violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if it creates a hostile or offensive working environment; and


Although sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title VII remedies are limited to restoring job benefits lost due to the harassment. Victims cannot be awarded compensatory damages to compensate them for physical and psychological suffering or for medical or other expenses resulting from the harassment. Nor are punitive damages available to make employers who tolerate or condone sexual harassment pay a stiff penalty. Therefore victims have turned to a variety of state tort law theories including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and interference with an employment contract to obtain compensatory and punitive damages. The results have been mixed. Plaintiffs in one state may have legal theories and remedies unavailable in others. In some states, victims are barred by the state workers' compensation laws from obtaining damages from their employers under state tort law; and


Many unions and employers have taken positive steps to stop sexual harassment through well-enforced contract language and policy statements and through education and training programs. Numerous AFSCME contracts include specific language for handling sexual harassment problems and AFSCME affiliates often have been instrumental in getting the employer to establish strong, effective, anti-sexual harassment policies; and


Despite the positive steps taken by some employers and despite the fact that the courts have put employers on notice that they may be liable for the sexual harassment of their workers, the problem has not been eradicated. Many employees victimized by sexual harassment have no work place procedures available to deal with the problem.


That AFSCME at all levels will continue its commitment to fighting sexual harassment by: Continuing and strengthening their educational programs on sexual harassment; ensuring that all collective bargaining agreements include effective mechanisms for dealing with sexual harassment; urging employers to enforce a strong policy against sexual harassment throughout the work place; providing a support system within the local union for victims of sexual harassment; supporting the filing of charges and lawsuits to secure relief for sexual harassment victims where appropriate; and


That AFSCME strongly supports the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1990 which includes a provision allowing victims of discrimination to obtain compensatory and punitive damages; and


That AFSCME supports legislative and regulatory changes to ensure that persons who quit their jobs as a result of sexual harassment are not denied unemployment compensation.


JoDell Kline, President
Emily Wenstad, Recording Secretary
AFSCME Local 2672, Council 6
St. Paul, MN