Sexual Harassment Readings
- Case: Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986). Excerpts from Justice
Rehnquist, Opinion of the Court, and concurrence by Justices Marshall, Brennan,
Blackmun, and Stevens. Weisberg, 740-748.
- Case: Ellison v. Brady (1991). Excerpts from Circuit Judge Beezer,
Opinion of the Court, and District Judge Stephens, dissenting. Weisberg,
- Martha Chamallas. "Feminist Constructions of Objectivity: Multiple
Perspectives on Sexual and Racial Harassment Litigation." Weisberg, pp
- Michael Weiss. "Sexual Harassment Definitions Discriminate Against
Men." Sexual Harassment. Ed. Carol Wekesser. San Diego: Greenhaven
Press, 1992. 179-187.
- Susan Estrich. "Sex at Work." Weisberg, pp 755-778.
- Jeffrey Toobin. "The Trouble with Sex." New Yorker, 9
February 1998: 48-55.
Written Assignment (due April 2): Answer all parts of the following
three questions fully; when referring to the readings, cite properly, including
Consider the following three situations (used in sexual harassment training
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 Weiss or Toobin interpret any of the above situations as sexual
harassment? Why or why not? Why do both of these writers oppose existing sexual
Additional Links on Sexual Harassment
Women and Law Syllabus