Most notably, it reveals that sexual harassment is far more complex than most companies tend to assume, with it not simply a case where men assert their power by harassing women. In the wrong hands, sexual harassment becomes a powerful tool that women can use to their advantage. Overall, the film provides important insights into the nature of sexual haraasment including the forms it can take, how it is managed, and how it should be managed to protect innocent people who have been accused. These issues will now be looked at in detail by considering sexual harassment and what the film has to say about it.
Sexual harassment has been defined as including "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" (Berlin 2002). The law then further divides sexual harassment into two types: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo is defined as "situations where employment decisions such as hiring, firing, or promotions are contingent upon the employee providing sexual favors" (Berlin 2002). Hostile work environment is defined as "situations where the employee's work environment is made intimidating, hostile, or offensive due to the unwelcome sexual conduct and the conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee's work performance" (Berlin 2002).
In the case in Disclosure, quid pro quo is the type of sexual harassment used. Meredith uses the situation to create an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment. Essentially, she uses the threat of claiming sexual harassment against Tom.
Impact of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The effects of sexual harassment can be divided into two levels. The first is the repercussions based on the law. The second is the repercussions for the organisation on a management level.
The obvious effect of sexual harassment is a court case where the company, or an employee of that company is sued. In Disclosure, it is not the legal repercussions that are most important. Instead, it is the effect that just the threat of legal repercussions have. While the company does not know if Tom is guilty, they become wary of him based on the possibility that what Meredith is saying. This shows that the threat of claiming sexual harassment is a weapon that can be used regardless of whether actual sexual harassment occurs. In effect, the truth does not even matter, with the possibility that Tom is guilty having just as much impact whether or not he is.
The second type of repercussions occur on the management level. The situation in Disclosure clearly shows the negative impacts the claim of sexual harassment has on the workplace. Sexual harassment causes individuals stress and in a situation where sexual harassment is ongoing, can cause a significant decline in the work environment. It also creates conflict based on the uncertainty associated with what is happening. Some people side with the accused, while others side with the accusor. The result is a divided workplace.
This is not only concerning for those involved in the dispute, but can also be a problem for all employees. This is especially related to the way that management deal with the problem. In one way, employees want to feel like they will be protected from harassment. This means that management should deal with the harasser as quickly as possible. In another way, employees wa