Psychological Injury Not Required for Sexual Harassment in "Abusive Work Environment"

By Kozlowski, James C. | Parks & Recreation, January 1995 | Go to article overview

Psychological Injury Not Required for Sexual Harassment in "Abusive Work Environment"


Kozlowski, James C., Parks & Recreation


As the "NRPA Law Review" column begins its 14th year of publication in Parks and Recreation, it seems timely to revisit a topic which was examined in April 1983 in an article entitled, "Employer Liability for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace." This article cited the case of Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F2d 897 (1982), in which the plaintiff alleged that the city's police chief "created a hostile and offensive working environment for women in the police station by subjecting them to numerous harangues of demeaning sexual inquiries and vulgarities." The specific issue is this case, therefore, was whether the plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to establish that "her resignation was tantamount to a constructive discharge based upon sex." As noted by the federal appeals court in Henson, "when an employee involuntarily resigns in order to escape intolerable and illegal employment requirements to which he or she is subjected became of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, the employer has committed a constructive discharge in violation of Title VII."

If discriminatory practices based upon sex would cause a reasonable person to quit her job, the employer will be held liable for effectively discharging the individual in violation of Title VII...

Sexual harassment which creates a hostile or offensive environment for members of one sex is every bit the arbitrary barrier to sexual equality at the workplace that racial harassment is to racial equality. Surely, a requirement that a man or woman run a gauntlet of sexual abuse in return for the privilege of being allowed to work and make a living can be as demeaning and disconcerting as the harshest of racial epithets.

According to the Henson court, federal regulations governing sexual harassment "included psychological well-being as well as tangible job benefits as terms or conditions or employment within the purview of Title VII."

[U]nder certain circumstances the creation of an offensive or hostile work environment due to sexual harassment can violate Title VII irrespective of whether the complainant suffers tangible job detriment...[T]erms, conditions, or privileges of employment include the state of psychological well-being at the workplace...For sexual harassment to state a claim under Title VII, it must be sufficiently pervasive so as to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment. Whether sexual harassment at the workplace is sufficiently severe and persistent to affect seriously the psychological well-being of employees is a question to be determined with regard to the totality of the circumstances.

As described herein, in the case of Harris v. Forklift System, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States qualified this "hostile or abusive work environment standard" in evaluating claims of sexual harassment. Specifically, the Court found that "[t]he effect on the employee's psychological well-being is, of course, relevant," but not conclusive "to determining whether the plaintiff actually found the environment abusive."

Workin' in a Coal Mine?

In the case of Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 113 S.Ct. 1382, 122 L.Ed.2d 758 (1993), plaintiff Teresa Harris sued her former employer, defendant Forklift Systems, Inc., for sexual harassment. Harris worked as a manager at Forklift Systems, Inc., an equipment rental company, from April 1985 until October 1987. Charles Hardy was Forklift's president. The facts of the case were as follows:

[T]hroughout Harris' time at Forklift, Hardy often insulted her because of her gender and often made her the target of unwanted sexual innuendos. Hardy told Harris on several occasions, in the presence of other employees, "You're a woman, what do you know" and "We need a man as the rental manager"; at least once, he told her she was "a dumb ass woman."

Again in front of others, he suggested that the two of them "go to the Holiday Inn to negotiate Harris' raise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Psychological Injury Not Required for Sexual Harassment in "Abusive Work Environment"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.