Sexual Harassment. Psychiatric Assessment in Employment Litigation

By Greenfield, Daniel P. Md, Mph, Ms | Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview
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Sexual Harassment. Psychiatric Assessment in Employment Litigation


Greenfield, Daniel P. Md, Mph, Ms, Journal of Psychiatry & Law


Sexual Harassment. Psychiatric Assessment in Employment Litigation by Liza H. Gold, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2004), 292 pp., $69.00.

"I love my work with a love that is frantic and perverted, as an ascetic loves the hair that scratches his belly . . ."

-GUSTAV FLAUBERT (1821-1880)

"Work fascinates me: I can sit and watch it for hours . . ."

- ANON. ca. 1995

"What one man can invent, another can discover."

- SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" (1903)

Of all of the thousands of cases in which forensic mental health professional-psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and the like-find themselves involved each year, a large number is undoubtedly in the broad area of employment law (workplace discrimination, wrongful discharge, Americans with Disabilities (ADA), and others), and a significant proportion of that number (described by one employment law practitioner as a "growth area in forensic psychiatry" [McDonald, 2003]) is undoubtedly in sexual harassment matters. For those mental health professionals who are engaged in this interesting but potentially perilous area of practice and who are seeking a single "go-to" handbook on the subject, Sexual Harassment can't be beat, in the unbiased, neutral, and dispassionate opinion of this reviewer ("Bias in the Assessment of Sexual Harassment Claims"-Chapter 3 in mis volume-is of particular interest and relevance). Praise on the book jacket of Sexual Harassment asserts that the book ". . . is a balanced integration of the relevant law, policy, science, and clinical practice . . ."; this reviewer agrees.

Beginning with two chapters providing a concise and detailed overview of the field predominantly for mental health practitioners (Chapter 1: "The Psychiatric Expert in Sexual Harassment Litigation") and legal professionals (Chapter 2: "Sexual Harassment: Definition, Legal History, and Legal Process"), respectively, Dr. Gold next presents a series of seven chapters dealing with forensic, scientific, and legal issues unique-or certainly central-to sexual harassment cases. These chapters constitute the bulk of this informative and useful book; their titles are "Bias in the Assessment of Sexual Harassment Claims" (Chapter 3); "Gender, the Workplace, and Sexual Harassment" (Chapter 4); "Sexual Harassment, Science, and Daubert" (Chapter 5); "Special Issues in and Guidelines for the Psychiatric Evaluation and Interview" (Chapter 6); "Credibility Assessments and Malingering in Sexual Harassment Litigation" (Chapter 7); "The Assessment of 'Welcomeness'" (Chapter 8); and "The Reasonable Person and Sexual Harassment" (Chapter 9).

In addition to discussing "garden variety" topics (see page 105, this volume) pertaining to each of these subjects and subject areas discussed in these seven chapters, the author discusses such intriguing, unusual, and non-intuitive topics as gender-based differences in justice and the threshold effects such differences have in the reporting of alleged sexual harassment in the workplace (". . . new psychological theory and research proposing that women's ethics tend to favor an 'ethic of care,' in which no one is harmed, rather than a more male oriented 'ethic of justice,' in which right prevails no matter who may be hurt. . . ," [page 53]1). (Douard, Friedman, Greenfield & Santina, 2006)

Throughout the discussion of gender-based issues and topics having to do with a variety of sources of bias, the author avoids maudlin or sociopolitically-based diatribes, emphasizing that mental health professionals should adhere to their expertise: To ". . . standard forensic and psychiatric methodology .

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