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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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Coercion in At-Will Termination of Employment and Sexual Harassment

Coercion in At-Will Termination of Employment and Sexual Harassment

(p.496) 29 Coercion in At-Will Termination of Employment and Sexual Harassment
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law

Lea Vandervelde

Yale University Press

This chapter illustrates how sexual harassment comes out as a clear and significantly successful progressive reform. In the workplace, there is no general legal redress against a personally hostile workplace environment. The employment relation insulates the employer from tortious action for many of the injurious circumstances that would customarily be considered tortious if occurring between neighbors or strangers due to the legal nature of the relation as a contractual one. The at-will contract prevents most tort claims against employers under an ideology that had the victims of harassment wanted protection against harassment, they should have bargained for protection in the terms of an already unspoken contract, or that if the circumstances become too objectionable, they can always quit. In the workplace, an employer's abuse of power is usually left without legal redress as a privilege of being an employer and as “part of the natural disorder of work life that cannot be changed.”

Keywords:   progressive reform, legal redress, hostile workplace, employment relation, tortious action, at-will contract, abuse of power, natural disorder

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