Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Dan Quayle were in a spelling bee, and Quayle won because he knew that “harass” was one word, not two.
So that’s an old joke, but the subject is pretty serious. First of all, what exactly does harassment mean? The definition is remarkably fuzzy after evolving over the years.
Originally, only “quid pro quo” offers were forbidden. That means employment or favoritism in exchange for sex. For example, one of my former colleagues had a salary nearly 50% higher than mine. I was busting my ass every day, though I had no idea what her job involved. Later, I found out that the district manager banged her. Was she exploited? Mainly the joke was on the company paying her a hefty salary for doing probably nothing.
This is reprehensible conduct. People shouldn’t have to compromise themselves for employment. On the other side of the coin, if the offer is accepted, it’s essentially soft prostitution. So the boss is a sleazebag and his employee is a hooker. However, it’s enforced like prostitution laws in Sweden and Canada; only the “johns” risk getting busted.
Later, a Supreme Court case ruled that a hostile work environment constituted illegal discrimination. What the plaintiff had endured on the job was disgusting. I’m not a lawyer, but it was already illegal for three reasons that I can see. Despite that, the Court created a new frontier of the law, eventually becoming a bonanza for attorneys.
The definition of “hostile environment” they created is fairly blurry, depending on the “reasonable person” doctrine. The Court should’ve known that the law is a blunt tool, and that enforcing matters of propriety and taste is very tricky. During the previous decade, they’d effectively capitulated on pornography, allowing it to become mainstream. Obscenity ...
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