Intimate Employment

62 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2017

See all articles by Shayak Sarkar

Shayak Sarkar

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: 2016


Intimate employees work to facilitate, maintain, and protect our private bodies, moments, and spaces. Amidst such interdependencies, how do we legally balance the interests of employers, including parents and those with physical disabilities, with those of their intimate employees? A national movement for domestic workers' rights unsettles a status quo regarding such employment's long-held place outside formal legal protections. Federal antidiscrimination statutes have excluded individual employers and their domestic workers, but innovative state legislation is bringing domestic workers under state statutory protections. As antidiscrimination law expands its jurisdiction over intimate employment, legal tensions arise between antidiscrimination's equality norms and individual employer's freedoms, including both existing constitutional and statutory rights. This Article is the first to describe and analyze comprehensively this nascent expansion of antidiscrimination law arising from the private home's transformation into a publicly regulated workplace. Through an analysis of both discriminatory hiring and sexual harassment, I offer both theoretical criteria and doctrinal insights in balancing the rights of historically excluded workers with the rights of individual employers, including those themselves marginalized due to disability and poverty. I argue that private relationships, rather than private spaces alone, define what I call "intimate employment" and engender constitutional employer protections.

Keywords: freedom of association, discrimination, care work, sexual harassment, Title VII, domestic work

Suggested Citation

Sarkar, Shayak, Intimate Employment (2016). Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 39, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Shayak Sarkar (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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