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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
References in classic literature ?
If his sisters or their friends happened to be among the onlookers on `popular nights,' Sylvester stood back in the shadow under the cottonwood trees, smoking and watching Lena with a harassed expression.
Here the viceroy and his company were received with so much ceremony, as was rather troublesome than pleasing to us who were fatigued with the labours of the passage; and having stayed here some time, that the gentlemen who attended the viceroy to Goa might fit out their vessels, we set sail, and after having been detained some time at sea, by calms and contrary winds, and somewhat harassed by the English and Dutch, who were now increased to eleven ships of war, arrived at Goa, on Saturday, the 16th of December, and the viceroy made his entry with great magnificence.
The next morning he felt so harassed with the nightmare of consequences-- he dreaded so much the immediate issues before him--that seeing while he breakfasted the arrival of the Riverston coach, he went out hurriedly and took his place on it, that he might be relieved, at least for a day, from the necessity of doing or saying anything in Middlemarch.
Deputations from all corners of the Union harassed him without cessation or intermission.
He was free from that shame, which had usually harassed him after a fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face.
'Anyone who tries to harass women will be sent to jail,' said the CCPO.
on Monday, a local resident told CGA that while he was shooting video of marine life around Vase Rock, he inadvertently recorded a male snorkeler touch and harass sea turtles, and at one point even stomping on a turtle with his foot.
But she refused, prompting the vendor to harass her.
The fisheries department on Tuesday pleaded with the public not to harass turtles when they're diving following a recent incident, they said.
We feel its unfair for the KDF to target us in the war on Al-Shabaab instead of focusing their efforts on the real issues causing insecurity and terrorism in the county, said one of the residents who refused to be named for fear of being targeted by the security agencies.'GOOD RELATIONSHIP'Contacted, KDF Spokesperson David Obonyo said his officers do not harass locals but instead they have tried to build a good relationship with them to make their work easier.
Talib Hussain said that after the Asifa case, BJP and RSS political activists in connivance with police have started finding new ways and means to harass the Gujjar community."
The individual followed the girls onto the L train where he continued to harass them.