Workplace Issues

Activity Documentation

Sexual Harassment/Email Fraud


Nancy Greenwood

Department of Computer Science

St. Charles County Community College

St. Peters, MO 63376

Target Audience: General college undergraduate with a general knowledge of computer usage.

Topic Area: Workplace Issues: Sexual Harassment/Email Fraud

Activity Type: Worksheet/Analysis; class discussion, teamwork

Knowledge, skills, and attitudes developed in this assignment (behavioral objectives): Students should develop more careful attitudes toward initial information and the relative ethical judgments they make. Through group activity, students will be able to differentiate between legal issues and moral ethics.

Goals for the Activity: The primary goal is for students to realize that there may be more to an incident than appears on the surface. Secondly, students will consider their standards for behavior in a similar situation. Finally, students will distinguish differences between legal issues and moral issues in the workplace.

Abstract: The intent of the assignment is to have students read and evaluate a case of wrongful termination and of sexual harassment in the workplace. Accompanying the article is a worksheet to analyze sexual situations for students to determine their responses and consider the reason for their response. Students will identify the applicable ethical and legal issues in the case. The sexual harassment issue on court appeal becomes an email fraud case and through teamwork students will analyze the ethical and legal consequences as they relate to the new issues. The assignment is of interest to computer science students because the company involved is well-known in the computer field.

Background/materials needed to complete the assignment: Students need to be given the initial account of the case as well as the assignment sheet. There are no other specific skills or knowledge needed to complete the assignment.

Materials: Initial copy of the case for distribution as well as assignment sheet.

Revised article for distribution and use in class as group work assignment.

Recommended Procedure: A brief discussion of the term sexual harassment - legal and moral implications in the workplace. Discussion should also include the difference between the legalities of sexual harassment and the ethical conflicts. A worksheet and first account of the case would be distributed for completion outside of class. The worksheet could be collected at the next class for grading if this type of assignment is used for evaluation.

A discussion can then follow on the ethical issues and the legal issues defined as sexual harassment in this specific case and in the workplace. The class could then be divided into groups and the updated article handed out. After reading the article the groups should identify the ethical issues now present in the case, how that differs from legal issues; as well as, a discussion of perceptions and the distinction between principles, rights, and ethics. At the conclusion, each group should present their consensus opinion on the difference between the legal issue in the final case versus the moral issues.

Time Frame Required: Reading and written evaluation; discussion prior to outside assignment; following class session(s) for discussion and teamwork analysis.

Assessing Outcomes: The worksheet could be graded to see that the student scrutinized the questions. A short one page analysis could be assigned at the completion of the discussion for grading purposes.

References: All sites last visited on 8/5/98

"Woman Who Accused Oracle Founder of Harassment Accused of PerJury"

"Oracle Executive Successfully Repudiates E-mail"

Information Access Company, Copynght 1997, Apt Data Services (UK), Computergram International http: //web.lexis -nexis.comm/universe

San Francisco Business Times Archive, January 29, 1997 Index

Employment Law Forum of Califonua

Daily News (New York), December 10, 1997.

San Jose Mercury News, 10/21/93 and 10/20/93.

Additional topic resources:

"The New Rules of Sexual Harassment," U.S. News and World Report, July 6, 1998, pp. 30-31.

"Sex and the CEO," U.S. News and World Report, July 6, 1998, pp. 32-40.

Author Contacts:

Nancy Greenwood
St. Charles County Community College
(3 14) 922-8000 x4572

Woman Sues Oracle Founder for Harassment and Wrongful Dismissal

Adelyn Lee a marketing coordinator at the Oracle Corporation and Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison, had an on-again-off again office romance from November 1991 until April 1993. The relationship ended while Lee was still working at Oracle. Five days after their last date, Lee was terminated from Oracle. She then sued Oracle alleging that she was fired on Ellison's order because she refused to have sex with him. Lee claimed that Ellison had warned her previously she would lose her job if she ended the relationship.

A key piece of evidence in the civil trail was an e-mail message supposedly sent by Lee's direct supervisor to Ellison. The message said: "I have terminated Adelyn [Lee] per your request." The e-mail message helped Lee win a $100,000 judgment in the civil case. Central to the case were many pages of electronic-mail messages exchanged during their affair.







Your Response

Position Justification

Pat's colleagues are standing at the printer and Chris tells a joke with a graphic sexual punch line to a mixed group as Pat arrives.



You arrive at work to find a pornographic screen saver has been placed on your machine.



George, Vice President of Office Systems, continually refers to Mary, Network Administrator, as "the OLD lady" and "ole girl".



You attend a business meeting of six men and four women. The men agree to go to a sports bar that evening to continue reviewing fiscal policy; the women were not invited.



Chris gains access to password. Chris uses the password to send suggestive e-mail to Ann under Frank's name.



You e-mail your professor how you might improve grade. Following class your professor asks you to come to his/her office. After closing the door, you are asked, "How far will you go to raise your grade?"



last updated 98/08/21
© Nancy Greenwood, 1998.

Prepared during the NSF Workshop on Teaching Ethics and Computing, University of South Florida, August 1998, NSF Grant No. DUE 95-52792