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Directions in Sexual Harassment Law$
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Catharine A. MacKinnon and Reva B. Siegel

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098006

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098006.001.0001

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The Silenced Workplace

The Silenced Workplace

Employer Censorship Under Title VII

Chapter:
(p.399) 24 The Silenced Workplace
Source:
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law
Author(s):

Kingsley R. Browne

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300098006.003.0025

This chapter argues that the definition of hostile-environment harassment under which employers must operate is both broad and vague, and includes “verbal or physical conduct” that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [the victim's] employment and create an abusive working environment.” Under this standard, courts have held that there is no requirement of intent on the part of the alleged harasser or that statements be specifically directed at the plaintiff. Some courts, in fact, have allowed plaintiffs to rely on speech that they heard about only indirectly. Although defenders of the current system typically justify regulation by invoking the most extreme cases of obscene and abusive speech by employees, harassment regulation reaches far beyond the egregious cases.

Keywords:   hostile-environment harassment, abusive working environment, requirement of intent, alleged harasser, plaintiff, egregious cases

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