Divorcing Sexual Harassment from Sex: Lessons from the French

L. Camille Hebert

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

March 5, 2013

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 194

This article analyzes France’s new sexual harassment provisions, which were enacted into the Labor and Penal Codes in August 2012, after the previous sexual harassment provisions of the Penal Code were declared to be unconstitutional. Those new provisions broaden the definition of sexual harassment beyond the previous prohibition on acts aimed at obtaining sexual acts to recognize as actionable harassment degrading and humiliating sexual behavior that harms the dignity of its target and creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment for that target. Unlike the United States’ approach to sexual harassment, which requires a showing of discrimination, no such requirement is imposed by the French sexual harassment provisions. The article addresses the extent to which the United States might learn from the French focus on dignity rather than discrimination as the harm of sexual harassment and explores the ways in which courts and legislatures in the United States have relied on notions of dignity in interpreting constitutional and statutory provisions. The article suggests the adoption of a federal statutory prohibition of sexually harassing behavior focusing on dignity, to supplement the present prohibition of discriminatory sexual harassment, addressing both the advantages and the potential risks of such an approach.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 64

JEL Classification: K3

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Date posted: March 6, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Hebert, L. Camille, Divorcing Sexual Harassment from Sex: Lessons from the French (March 5, 2013). Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 194. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2228653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2228653

Contact Information

L. Camille Hebert (Contact Author)
Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )
55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
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