Sexual Harassment Laws Should Not Be Abolished
Laws that regulate sexual harassment were established for good reason, and without them it would pose major problems to anyone involved in such activity. Almost all companies, government agencies, colleges and organizations have some type of policy in place regarding sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as: “a type of employment discrimination consisting in verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature” (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law). Over the years the basic outline of what is considered sexual harassment has been explored, along with what needs to be done to prevent it.
The histories of sexual harassment laws are not very old. Up until the 1970’s sexual harassment was unheard of, mostly due to the fact that women did not hold a huge role in the workplace. However as the amount of women increased in the “male” workplace, the need for sexual harassment laws became apparent. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, title VII prohibited discrimination by employers and organizations with 15 or more full time employees, and by the mid 1970’s the courts began to accept sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination. Since the 1970’s in courts have continued broadened their interpretation of what is considered sexual harassment under law, as well as some exceptions. Since the creation of sexual harassment laws there has been several arguments against the laws in place. The counterarguments of sexual harassment laws range from false accusations to freedom of speech issues. A problem with sexual harassment laws, like any other law, there will be some instances were accusations are either misconstrued or blatantly false. Table 1 shows sexual harassment charges to employers, in 1997, approximately 40% of EEOC reported cases were administrative closures, and 41.4% no reasonable cause. An administrative closure is when a case is closed for administrative reasons including “charging party requests withdrawal of a charge without receiving benefits or having resolved the issue” (Definitions of Terms). No reasonable cause is when the EEOC determines that there is no evidence to prove sexual harassment occurred but charging party still has right to bring suit in federal court or private court (Definitions of Terms). Comparatively, the percentage of administrative closures in 2011 dropped to 21%, while there was a rise in the number of cases with no reasonable cause resulting in a 53%. Table 1 suggests that there is tendency that individuals claim sexual harassment when there was none. A false accusation causes severe harm to the individual accused, especially with respect to a student accusing a teacher. Regardless of how ridiculous a claim may be can still take a long time. During this long, costly, stressful, drawn-out investigating process to disprove the allegation can have a negative impact on ones reputation and career, discipline or potential job loss. The reputation of a teacher is closely linked to their ability to be successful. False claims can also cause higher financial ramifications to companies that already spent $52.30 million, not including not including any costs spent in litigations or nondisclosure settlements, in 2011 (Table 2). Some firms or companies, especially well named ones, have settled cases, even when knowledge of the claim is false, out of courts because the process of clearing their name would be more costly. This could be reason for why there is an increase in “no reasonable cause” by the EEOC. False accusations, the high monetary costs to employers/accused individuals, and the personal costs to the accused individuals associated with sexual harassment laws are not only the arguments people can make.
Some will give an argument that sexual harassment impedes on freedom of speech given by the constitution. Some legal scholars, like Eugene Volokh, have raised concerns about strict harassment laws impeding on free speech. Volokh stated, “Sexual...
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