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Resolutions & Amendments

30th International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (1992)

Sexual Harassment

Resolution No. 42
30th International Convention
June 15-19, 1992
Las Vegas, NV


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


Sexual harassment is unwelcome, offensive and demeaning behavior and can have devastating psychological, physical and economic consequences for its victims; and


The issue of sexual harassment gained national focus when Anita Hill testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Hill testified about the harassment she had received from Justice Thomas when she worked for him at two different federal agencies. During the confirmation hearing, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee showed a lack of knowledge about the issue of sexual harassment and a lack of appreciation for the plight of its victims. The public discussion and debate which occurred as a result of that hearing indicated that much of public shares the Senators' misconceptions, illustrating the need for education about the nature of sexual harassment, how to prevent it and how when it occurs; 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, until the Civil Rights Act of 1991 amended Title VII, remedies were limited to restoring job benefits lost due to the harassment. A limited damages remedy up to $300,000 is now available. However, this limited compensatory and punitive damages remedy may not be enough in all cases to completely compensate victims for physical and psychological suffering or for medical or other expenses resulting from the harassment, or to make employers who tolerate or condone sexual harassment pay a stiff enough penalty to serve as a deterrent; 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 unions and 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; and


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: further strengthening their educational programs on sexual harassment; ensuring that all collective bargaining agreements include effective mechanisms for dealing with sexual harassment; urging employers to develop and enforce a strong policy against sexual harassment; and supporting the filing of charges and lawsuits to secure relief for sexual harassment victims where appropriate; and


That AFSCME strongly supports the enactment of legislation to remove the cap on compensatory and punitive damages for victims of sex, religion and disability discrimination; and


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


Virginia Diogo, President and Delegate
Bob Hood, Secretary and Delegate
George Popyack, IVP and Delegate
Council 57

Louise DeBow, Delegate
Lola McBryde, Vice President and Delegate
AFSCME Local 1597, Council 37
New York, New York