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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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Theories of Harassment “Because of Sex”

Theories of Harassment “Because of Sex”

(p.155) 11 Theories of Harassment “Because of Sex”
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law

William N. Eskridge Jr.

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the limits of Title VII, in particular, where it “draws the line” between impermissible workplace sexual harassment and permissible, even if squalid, misconduct. The statute does not clearly tell the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the courts where to draw the line, owing in part to the ambiguity of the word “sex,” in part to the lack of a clear policy underlying the prohibition, and in part to the importance of context in drawing such lines. The different meanings and interpretations of sex can entail more than one underlying policy of Title VII, and the application of any one definition or any one policy is influenced by the interpreter's factual and normative understandings. Given these multiplicities, the statutory analysis is mobile, uncertain, and therefore manipulable.

Keywords:   ambiguity, sex, Title VII, EEOC, importance of context, normative understandings, multiplicities, statutory analysis

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