course logo Written Assignment:
Sexual Harassment
due April 11

Answer all the following questions (A, B, and C); when referring to the readings, cite properly, including page numbers and a full citation at the end of the assignment.

Consider the following three situations (used in sexual harassment training workshops):

  1. Diane is one of two women in production. Whenever she wears a dress to work, Ethan, her manager, comments on “what great legs she has.” Diane is obviously annoyed by this and lets him know. When Ethan suggested they go out for drinks to discuss her promotion, she agreed, only to find that his conversation was peppered with remarks about being “friendlier” if she wanted to make it in the field.
  2. Mary confides in you, the manager, that she saw Erma, an administrative assistant, exchanging kisses with a supervisor from her department under the mistletoe at the annual Christmas party.
  3. A group of male technicians were laughing and commenting over a very provocative advertising poster from a supplier that Sam was holding up for all to see. Marie, a clerk who was sitting nearby sees this and asks them to stop their “disgusting remarks.” The laughter continues and she walks out of the room. Although no more posters appear, she is referred to as “Sister Marie” from the “Convent of the Censors.”

A. Which of these situations do you think would constitute sexual harassment? For each, explain why it would or would not be considered sexual harassment.

B. Would you advise any of these women to take her case to court? Why or why not? If you did advise court action, which of the two types of sexual harassment charges would apply? Explain why. Explain whether or not you think any of the women could win a court case? Why or why not? NB: for the questions in this section, draw on the Estrich and Chamallas articles to back up your points.

C. Would Toobin interpret any of the above situations as sexual harassment? Why or why not? Why does he oppose existing sexual harassment laws?

In answer to these questions, it would be helpful to consult the HyperscribesFree Speech and Sexual Harassment explanation of hypothetical cases or Eugene Volokh's article “What Speech Does ‘Hostile Work Environment’ Harassment Law Restrict?

Daniel McCarthy <dmccar7871@earthlink.net>
Barbara F. McManus <bmcmanus@ix.netcom.com>
HON303/WMS303 Topics and Assignments II
April 2000