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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

(p.399) 24 The Silenced Workplace
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law

Kingsley R. Browne

Yale University Press

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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