Sexual Harassment: Legal Perspectives
International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Volume 21, 2001, ISBN: 0-08-043076-7
8 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2018
Date Written: 2001
After a remarkably swift development in law and popular consciousness, sexual harassment remains the subject of controversy and debate. The concept of sexual harassment is largely an American invention. Like many other concepts that have mobilized social action in the United States, this one emerged in the context of law reform. In the 1970s, US feminists succeeded in establishing sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the major federal statute prohibiting discrimination in employment). Since then, the concept has taken hold in broader arenas such as organizational practice, social science research, media coverage, and everyday thought. Although Title VII remains the primary legal weapon against sexual harassment in the US, traditional anti-discrimination law squares uneasily with the overtly sexual definition of harassment that emanated from 1970s feminist activism and ideas. Just at the time when this narrow sexual definition of harassment has come under criticism in the US however, that same definition has begun to spread to other nations--inviting inquiry around the globe. Today, sexual harassment's conceptual boundaries are being rethought in the law, in the wider culture, and in feminist thought.
Keywords: Sexual Harassment, Harassment Law
JEL Classification: J7, J70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation