Case Law on Sexual Harassment in Criminal Justice

Sue Carter Collins, Georgia State University
Michael S. Vaughn, Georgia State University
Taylor T. Dang, Georgia State University

The problem of sexual harassment in criminal justice agencies has received increased attention in recent years. To determine what behaviors meet the threshold requirement that a workplace is so permeated with sexual harassment to raise a Title VII claim, lower courts rely on the non-exclusive list of factors developed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Harris v. Forklift System (1993). These factors include: (1) the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; (2) its severity; (3) whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; (4) whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with plaintiff's work; and (5) what psychological harm, if any, resulted. Exploring lower court opinions from the federal courts, this paper builds an analytical legal framework that results in a judicial decision-making model.

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Updated 05/20/2006