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The Objectives of Sexual Harassment Law, with Application to 1998's Ellerth, Oncale, and Faragher Decisions


  • Eric Rasmusen

    (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business)


Imposing liability on a company for sexual harassment by supervisors cannot be justified as promoting equality between the sexes, protection of workers, or protection of the owners of the company. Such liability might be justified to prevent breach of contract or behavior offensive to the general public-- a "civility code". The recent Supreme Court ruling in Oncale that same-sex harassment is illegal can be justified on these grounds. The ruling in Ellerth and Faragher concerning employer liability for sexual harassment by supervisors contrary to the employer's interest is less satisfactory because the Court's rule will encourage litigation and defensive bureaucratic complexity.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Rasmusen, 1999. "The Objectives of Sexual Harassment Law, with Application to 1998's Ellerth, Oncale, and Faragher Decisions," Labor and Demography 9907002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:9907002
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
    2. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "On the Labor Market Effects of Immigration and Trade," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 213-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Timothy J. Bartik, 2000. "Displacement and Wage Effects of Welfare Reform," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: David E. Card & Rebecca M. Blank (ed.), Finding Jobs: Work and Welfare Reform, pages 72-122 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    4. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
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    More about this item


    sexual harassment; Supreme Court; mandated fringe benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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