sexual harassment

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to sexual harassment: sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual discrimination

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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
. 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.


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

References in periodicals archive ?
However, the case of Bhanwari Devi, the saathin from Rajasthan, is recognised as the trigger for India in addressing sexual harassment in the Indian workplace.
It recognises that the workspace goes beyond the four walls of a building, beyond the confines of an office, and it stated that if sexual harassment took place in the context of employment related situations, it would be considered as an offence in the eyes of the law.
While there is no recognized tort of discrimination (or sexual harassment), more recently, victims of sexual harassment are launching civil suits against employers and perpetrators for the intentional tort of infliction of emotional/ mental suffering, the intentional tort of sexual assault and battery, or wrongful or constructive dismissal.
The suit alleges that the system has had numerous problems with regard to sexual harassment over several years, which have not been adequately addressed by the RCMP.
The efforts of both male and female volunteers have led to metro officials launching a hotline for women to report incidents of sexual harassment and men riding in the women-only carriage of the trains.
Another group, Imprint Movement, organizes patrols that monitor underground metro stations to stop harassers during Eid, a time that has become a season for sexual harassment in Egypt, perhaps due to large gatherings in public spaces.
Research has also addressed how workplace sexual harassment is perceived, most comprehensively with respect to the gender of the target.
Given the likely theoretical links between perceiving conduct as injurious and seeking remedy, it is unsurprising that similar patterns emerge when considering those who report sexual harassment.
To complement student's understanding of sexual harassment law, the instructor should discuss several important sexual harassment cases.
Following this introduction (which serves as Part I of the Article), the discussion starts by reviewing the basic structure of sexual harassment law in both India and Israel (in Part II).
The first case brought to court that involved a male victim of sexual harassment occurred in 1995 and exemplifies the aforementioned theory.
Based on her qualitative research in the Netherlands, Cense (1997) suggested that the risk factors for sexual harassment in top-level sport are different from those in recreational sport.