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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Today we're going to learn about:

  • Polyvagal states and workplace trauma recovery
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How one organization changed its culture to reduce workplace bullying and increase trust, fairness, and respect

If you think workplace bullying is a bigger issue than managers often suspect, you’re right. Research supports that workplace bullying simply often goes unreported but it’s still happening. In their Employee Rights and Employee Policy Journal article, Researchers Loraleigh Keashly and Joel H. Neuman said a study of the VA healthcare system, the VA Project, showed a gap between those who experienced workplace bullying and those who reported it their experience to a supervisor. “Of the people identified as being exposed to bullying behavior (36 percent of the total sample), 53 reported their experience to a supervisor. An even smaller proportion (15 percent) filed a formal grievance.”

Possible reasons for not reporting bulling behavior at work:

  • Lack of awareness of what one is experiencing
  • Feeling each bullying incident is minor in isolation
  • Fear of being deemed “overly sensitive” or unable to adapt to the work culture
  • ...
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