sexual harassment

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sexual harassment,

in law, verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, aimed at a particular person or group of people, especially in the workplace or in academic or other institutional settings, that is actionable, as in torttort,
in law, the violation of some duty clearly set by law, not by a specific agreement between two parties, as in breach of contract. When such a duty is breached, the injured party has the right to institute suit for compensatory damages.
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 or under equal-opportunity statutes. Once stereotyped as involving pressures brought by one in authority (e.g., an employer, teacher, or ranking officer) on someone in an inferior position, with the aim of obtaining sexual favors, harassment is now recognized as also involving behavior that creates an environment unfriendly to its targets. Thus, sexually explicit or suggestive behavior by male fellow employees may be designed to make a work situation difficult for a newly hired female; the harassers' motive may be mere hostility to female entry into a male "preserve."

In the United States, courts have since 1977 recognized some such behavior as a form of sex discrimination; not only the superior who seeks sexual access but also the employer who fails to restrain the behavior of other employees may be liable to suit. The 1991 Senate hearings in which Professor Anita Hill testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence ThomasThomas, Clarence,
1948–, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1991–), b. Pin Point (Savannah), Ga. Raised in a poor family, he graduated (1974) from the Yale Law School and became a prominent black conservative active in Republican causes.
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 had made unwelcome advances to her some years earlier when she worked for him, and the "Tailhook" scandal, involving sexual hazing by male officers during a navy gathering in Las Vegas, Nev., in Sept., 1991, brought the issue of sexual harassment to national attention. In 1992 the Supreme Court gave individuals harmed by a school's discrimination (now interpreted as including failure to discipline students who harass other students) the right to sue the school for damagesdamages,
money award that the judgment of a court requires the defendant in a suit to pay to the plaintiff as compensation for the loss or injury inflicted. Damages are the form of legal redress most commonly sought.
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. In a series of 1998 decisions the Supreme Court ruled that employees in the workplace are to be protected from harassment by people of the same sex; that an employee need not suffer a tangible job detriment in order to sue for harassment; and that a company having effective complaint procedures that an employee unreasonably fails to utilize is protected from suit.

Recent debates have centered on, among other things, the apparent wide differences in men's and women's interpretations of sexual talk; on whether schools and colleges can or should impose speech and conduct codes or take other measures to protect students, especially females, from sexual talk or behavior; and on whether pornography is in itself a form of sexual harassment. It is apparent that the interests of protection from sexual harassment and of freedom of speech will continue to clash.

Bibliography

See M. Boland, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (2007); C. N. Baker, The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment (2007).

References in periodicals archive ?
35) Under Oncale, there are three common situations when same-sex sexual harassment can be "because of sex": (36) First, when there is evidence that the harasser sexually desires the victim; (37) second, when there is no sexual attraction, but when the harasser displays hostility to the presence of persons of a particular sex in the workplace; (38) and third, in circumstances akin to the type of gender stereotyping found in Price Waterhouse.
32) And, to the extent that same-sex sexual harassment appears contradictory--an assertion of masculine norms via same-sex acts that violate those norms--it offers insight into the cultural contradictions that inhabit our contemporary social and political conjuncture.
Furthermore, the Oncale opinion--while finding that same-sex sexual harassment can qualify as discrimination "because of .
Since Oncale, federal courts have been willing to hear same-sex sexual harassment cases where the harasser is gay, on the basis that the harassment is presumed to be because of the victim's sex: at 1539.
These findings along with the same-sex sexual harassment cases that have been litigated lend credence to the idea that the emphasis on heterosexuality contributes to a sexist and homophobic atmosphere in our society.
amp; POL'Y 113 (1999) and Ronald Turner, The Unenvisaged Case, Interpretive Progression, and the Justiciability of Title VII Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Claims, 7 DUKE J.
So, while the Oncale decision foresees the possibility of a case of same-sex sexual harassment, it does not appear to recognize the most typical scenario for such harassment, based on gender stereotyping.
Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Under Title VII (42 USCS [sections] 20003 et seq.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari and decided on March 4, 1998, that same-sex sexual harassment claims are triable under Title VII [Oncale v.
Cases concerning same-sex sexual harassment demonstrate that sexualized conduct continues to pervade and structure certain male-dominated workplaces to the present.
As if to underscore the contradictory nature of the legal system when it comes to same-sex sexual harassment, the Northern District of New York federal court ruled two days after the Rene decision that another gay man, David Martin, could not sue his employer for same-sex sexual harassment.
which considered the issue of whether same-sex sexual harassment is actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.