The Ongoing Scourge of Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment has become a major issue in the media. The not-so-secret behavior of high-profile men in Congress, the media, and the acting community is now openly discussed by the media. Black’s Law Dictionary defines sexual harassment as a

type of employment discrimination consisting in verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature, including lewd remarks, salacious looks, and unwelcome touching.

Julia Carpenter, in her recent article How Anita Hill Forever Changed the Way We Talk About Sexual Harassment, writes that

[i]n 1975, a group of women at Cornell University created the term “sexual harassment.”

Recently, in an op-ed in the New York Times, Lin Farley confirmed that 1975 was the year that the term

sexual harassment . . . was first used by women to describe what male bosses were doing to them.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lists some important facts about sexual harassment inclusive of its definition as

a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.

The New York State Division of Human Rights has issued guidance for employers that explains sexual harassment as a

“hostile environment” consisting of words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature . . .

Recent print and TV news coverage has focused on information about sexual harassment and sexual assault.  In one article, CNBC lists over 15 famous men accused of sexual harassment and assault including:

Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein; Television host Charlie Rose; Comedian Louis C.K; Film director Brett Ratner; Actor Kevin Spacey; NPR Senior Vice President of News Michael Oreskes; Literary Editor, Leon Wieseltier; and Journalist Mark Halperin, among others.

USA Today recently published an updated list of members of Congress facing sexual misconduct allegations including Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers, among others. The allegations and subsequent resignations continue.

The New York Times publishes a regularly updated listing of men accused of sexual misconduct. These are

high-profile men in a variety of industries who have resigned, been fired or experienced other fallout after accusations that have ranged from inappropriate text messages to rape.

Time’s Person of the Year: ‘The Silence Breakers’ recognizes the women and men who have finally spoken out.

The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe. They might labor in California fields, or behind the front desk at New York City’s regal Plaza Hotel, or in the European Parliament. They’re part of a movement that has no formal name. But now they have a voice.

It also discusses the viral social media #MeToo campaign.

Select Relevant Pace Law Library Resource Materials:

Pace Law Library legal research guide Appearance Policies as Sex Discrimination in the Workplace; Feminist Legal Theory Research lists some resources relative to this issue.

Lexis Advance includes a topic summary on the ‘Hostile Work Environment,’ and discusses  Harris v. Forklift Sys., 510 U.S. 17 (1993) as one of the ten seminal federal cases on this issue. Similarly, the New York seminal case is Mauro v. Orville, 697 N.Y.S.2d 704 (App. Div. 3d Dep’t 1999).

Pace Law Library’s catalog includes 325 items going back to 1979 that fall within the subject heading of sexual harassment.

Books and DVDs in the Pace Law Library collection

  1. Tainted witness: why we doubt what women say about their lives. K3243 .G55 2017
  2. Because of sex: one law, ten cases, and fifty years that changed American women’s lives at work.  KF3467 .T56 2016
  3. Masculinity at work : employment discrimination through a different lens. KF3464 .M348 2016
  4. Anita: Speaking Truth to Power. KF374.H55 A55 2013 DVD
  5. Sex & Justice  KF8745.T48 S49 2008 DVD

Other Select Relevant Resources

Legal Research Guides

  1. Hot Topics: Sexual Harassment: Law and Legislation
  2. Sexuality and the Law: Practice Aids

International Materials

  1. Sources of International Law Related to Sexual Harassment
  2. Why we need sexual harassment laws in the Caribbean
  3. Rossalina Latcheva, Sexual Harassment in the European Union: A Pervasive but Still Hidden Form of Gender-Based Violence, 32 J. Interpersonal Violence 1821 (2017).

Blog Posts

  1. Sexual Harassment and the Law (Deborah Rhode)
  2. The Pink Ghetto (Above the Law)


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