Après avoir défini ce qu'il faut entendre par harcèlement sexuel au travail, les auteurs proposent une grille d'identification permettant de classifier selon la forme et le degré les différents comportements qui caractérisent le harcèlement sexuel au travail.
The first part of this study investigated the different definitions of sexual harassment at work. The authors also proposed a theoretical and operational definition of this complex concept. The second part of the study suggested an operational framework integrating not only the different forms but also the degrees under which this phenomenon materialised.
A review of the literature identified two dominant trends: the legalistic school with a mainly descriptive definition and the feminist school more interested in the balance of power between men and women. It is this notion of power and the resulting abuses that should in effect predominate in a definition of sexual harassment at work.
Nevertheless, the feminist analysis alone cannot define the total phenomenon even though the most common relationship is that of a woman-harassee and a manharasser. A subsequent analysis of power in the workplace brings out the constant presence of an hierarchy which vests superiors with many prerogatives. This internal social structure in any enterprise potentially leads to abuses of power. Sexual harassment at work may therefore be categorized as one of the dimensions of harassment at work, the sexual dimension encompassing the relation of power between men and women found at the heart of feminist analysis. This analysis adds to the notion of hierarchical power, that of social domination of women by men, particularly in sexual matters. Women are thus discriminated against since they are not considered solely as workers but also as sexual females having to be subjected to male advances.
Sexual harassment at work may thus be defined as follows: a behaviour of a sexual connotation as a manifestation of power making a person a sexual object in his/her workplace.
The operational definition must take into account three important dimensions: power (operative in function of the degree of the behaviour reached: annoyance, coercion or assault), sexuality (three forms of behaviour: non verbal, verbal or physical) and the workplace (the harasser having a tie to the workplace of the harassee though the harassment mayor may not occur in the workplace). The literature retains two elements essential to an operational definition: the notion of non-consent or non-reciprocity (clearly indicated by the degree of the behaviour) and that of repeatedness. This last element must be qualified, as legal experts and theorists have done, in function of various criteria. For example, as regards the degree of behaviour, it is obvious that an assault does not have to be repeated «in order to determine correctly its nature».
Sexual harassment at work may therefore be defined operationally as being any behaviour of sexual connotation, generally repetitive, non-reciprocal, with the object or the effect of annoying or coercing a worker to do something that he/she would not otherwise do.
In order to present an operational framework enabling systematic research on the presence of such behaviour, it is possible to situate each type of behaviour in function of the form and the degree reached, and this is what is show in Table 2. This exercice in definition provides for the study of the characteristics of the problem as experienced in a firm or in the whole of society. It also situates very well sexual harassment within the framework of relations of power stemming from the structure of workplaces to which is added the balance of power between men and women in all spheres of society, the workplace included. Because women are in the workplace to stay and to take their place against all odds amongst which sexual harassment, it is obvious that changes in perceptions and attitudes are expected of men.