What we can learn from the evolution of sexual harassment law to address the power structures that benefit white men

We know that sexual harassment law has advanced workers' rights, especially for women. But what has it done — and not done — to move the needle for women? How is it enabling those writing the rules to keep themselves in power to cling onto the status quo?

Let's look to Yale Law School's Reva B. Siegel's short history of sexual harassment from her 2003 book Directions in Sexual Harassment Law to get a sense of what work was like before the Supreme Court interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual harassment as discrimination based on sex in the late 1980s. With each step, we'll look at how the history gives us insights for the need for general workplace anti-abuse legislation, the Dignity At Work Act. Workplace abuse has a discriminatory impact on women, non-white workers, and low-wage workers.

The History of Sexual Harassment 

The Supreme Court's interpretation of sexual harassment as...

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How one manager pushed out a competent medical insurance analyst — and the company did nothing

The late Congressman John Lewis talked about the importance of saying and doing something when you see something that's not right — getting into good trouble. “I fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race and color not to fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said. “He (President Obama) is sending a powerful message that discrimination in any form has no place in a democratic society. It also gives hope to the 9 million LBGT Americans and their loved ones who have had to bear the pain and sorrow of rejection, loss, and shame with limited means to make their voices heard.”

 

 


In 2007, a healthcare organization hired me as a military medical insurance analyst, a position I would stay in for 12 years. (I had the same position for 20 years in a different healthcare organization.) For those 12 years, I received excellent job evaluations year after year from my previous...

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