Sexual Harassment

The sexual harassment allegations filed by Professor Anita Hill against
Clarence Thomas and the proceeding Senate Judiciary Hearing thrust the issue of
sexual harassment into the political arena, the workplace, and every day life.


Sexual harassment is a very broad term and can be interpreted in a
variety of ways. The National Organization of Women (NOW) defines sexual
harassment as "any repeated or unwarranted verbal or physical advance, sexually
explicit derogatory statement, or sexually discriminating acts made by someone
in the workplace which is offensive or objectionable to the recipient or which
interferes with the recipients job performance." (Redress for Success, page 74)
Before 1972, there was no penalty for sexual harassment of women at the
workplace. Not until, that is, the Education Amendments of 1972 were enacted.
Title IX of the Education Amendments states that "sexual harassment is a form of
sexual discrimination and is illegal." (What is Sexual Harassment?, page 20)
After the Education Amendments were enacted, women began to see that the law was
on their side and that it was designed to protect them. Women now saw that

-Verbal harassment or abuse

-Subtle pressure for sex

-Unnecessary patting or pinching

-Constant brushing against another employee\'s body

-Demands for sex accompanied by threats of termination

-Demands for sex in return for preferential treatment

qualified as components of sexual harassment.(Redress for Success, page 75)
Soon after that women began to realize that they could be sexually harassed by
anybody, such as by employers, supervisors, co-workers, customers, or even by
subordinate employees.(Redress for Success, page 74) With this new
understanding that they deserved equal treatment as their male counterparts,
women began to hold men responsible for their actions and use the laws to their
advantage. The sexual harassment allegations made by Anita Hill in 1991 were
not the first and were by far not the most controversial. May cases and
hearings prior to the Clarence Thomas Hearing set the stage for the out break of
hysteria in 1991.

Landmark Cases

Back as far as 1975, women began to realize that men could not act as
they did and still stay within the perimeters of the law. The case of Monge v.
Beebe Rubber Company brought the issue of sexual discrimination out into the
open in late 1974. The circumstances were that Monge had been fired after her
supervisor demanded sex favors that Monge chose not to give. Monge was
subsequently fired and she sued for her job back. Previously similar cases had
been thrown out of court for lack of evidence (most sexual harassment cases are
her word versus his). Also, before 1972 (the Education Amendments), there was
no legislation to back women up in their quest for social and economic equality.
The Supreme Court ruled that Beebe Rubber Company was unlawful in firing Monge
and she was awarded her job back. This sensational ruling set the stage for an
outburst of cases of similar circumstances. To further substantiate the newly
formed definition of sexual harassment, the ruling in the case Algermarle Paper
Co. v. Moody stated that sexual harassment is only illegal if

-Sex is a condition of employment

-Submission or rejection to sexual suggestions affects decisions
concerning the individual

-When sexual advances hinder job performance or create an intimidating

Based on these definitions, in the case Corne v. Bausch and Lomb, Inc. in 1975
the Supreme Court ruled that if a supervisor sexually harasses a subordinate
employee, causing that individual to quit her job, that does not constitute
sexual discrimination; he was merely satisfying a personal urge. Along the
same line, the case Halpert v. Wetheim stated that the use of coarse language
that was not directed at the plaintiff did not constitute sexual harassment.
This ruling was reinforced in the Neeley v. American Fidelity Assurance Co,
which specified that a supervisors conduct (telling dirty jokes, putting his
hands on the employees shoulders) is an action of personal standing, not sexual
In 1977, however, those rulings was overturned and Corne and Halpert
were compensated for their losses. The case that overturned those rulings was
Barnes v. Costle, which ruled that if a woman was fired due to refusing to
submit to sexual advances, that that was in violation of the Equal Employment
Opportunity Act of 1972 and the employer who fired her in liable for his acts.
Further advances in equality were achieved in the Marentette v. Michigan Host,
Inc. decision, which stated that requiring provocative dress as a term for
employment violates Title VII of the Education Acts of 1972.
The greatest preliminary scandal involving sexual discrimination and
harassment which ultimately led to the hysteria of