Posts tagged as:

harassment law

There’s nothing new about the impulse to call in the cops against wolves, mashers, and fresh guys on street corners and public conveyances [Alexis Coe, The Atlantic]:

As early as 1897, Missouri representative Prichard B. Hoot introduced a bill that sought to regulate flirting on trains, but the endeavor ultimately proved unsuccessful. That same year, Senator James G. McCune recommended Virginia make flirting a misdemeanor; like his earlier proposal to outlaw football, this bill did not come to fruition.

A former Bethlehem, Pa. city employee who “was charged with and ultimately pled guilty to harassment” after persistently bothering an ex-girlfriend co-worker has lost his wrongful-termination suit against the city, with the Third Circuit upholding its dismissal on summary judgment. [Eric B. Meyer]

Harassment complaints filed by men are on the rise, up from 9 percent to 16 percent over the past two decades, according to the EEOC. Now male employees at the Department of Homeland Security have filed a complaint saying they were subjected to a hostile environment under female management. Alison Yarrow of Newsweek/Daily Beast has a new report that quotes me on several points.


April 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 3, 2012

  • In time for Easter: egg prices soar in Europe under new hen-caging rules [AP]
  • For third time, the Environmental Protection Agency backtracks on claims of harm from gas “fracking” [Adler; U. Texas study on drinking water safety, CBS Dallas] Yes, there’s a plaintiff’s lawyer angle [David Oliver] Don Elliott, former EPA general counsel, on why his old agency needs cutting [Atlantic] Blow out your candles, coal industry, and so good-bye [Pat Michaels/Cato, Shikha Dalmia]
  • Following the mad logic wherever it leads: “State Legislators Propose Mandatory Drug Testing of Judges and Other State Officials” [ABA Journal]
  • Proposal: henceforth no law may run to greater length than Rep. Conyers’s copy of Playboy [Mark Steyn]
  • Creative American lawyers: “Carnival cruise ship briefly seized in Texas” [AP]
  • “Overlawyered” is the title of a new commentary in The New Yorker, not related to a certain website [Kelefa Sanneh]
  • Repressive Connecticut “cyber-harassment” bill [Volokh, Greenfield, Popehat] And now, not to be outdone, Arizona… [Volokh]

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A Minnesota man named Aaron (no relation) Olson has met with no success in legal efforts to force his uncle to remove “innocuous [but surely awkward] family photographs” with snarky captions. [Christopher Danzig, Above the Law; Venkat Balasubramani/TMLB]

Sex and man at Yale

by Walter Olson on February 5, 2012

Is life at the university fairer under the new sex-complaint procedures mandated by the federal Department of Education? Don’t ask the New York Times [Peter Berkowitz via Ann Althouse] More: Kathleen Parker, WaPo; Brisbane/NYT via Romenesko.

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Employment law roundup

by Walter Olson on December 15, 2011

  • Age discrimination law (including my views) discussed [Reihan Salam, NRO] “3d Cir.: Employees Fired for Pornographic Emails Lose Age-Discrimination Case” [Molly DiBianca]
  • Will Obama administration lawsuit derail employer use of career-readiness certificates? [Charlotte Allen, Minding the Campus]
  • A warning for Gov. Cuomo: “The case against pension-financed infrastructure” [Edward Zelinsky, OUP]
  • EEOC is on the warpath and employers had better hope they escape unscathed [Hans Bader, CEI]
  • Since we know unemployment extensions have no incentive effects, this story from the Midwest is purely imaginary [Marietta, Ohio Times, related]
  • Court rejects “announcement of same sex marriage harassed me” hostile environment claim [Volokh] “Jobs with a higher risk of sexual harassment pay workers more” [WaPo] Half of all students harassed? Surprising it’s only half [Katie Roiphe, NYT]
  • Funny-sad “666” workplace suit: “The safety sticker of the beast” [Volokh]
  • “Do you know what an employment lawsuit costs?” [Jon Hyman]


December 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 7, 2011

  • Debate on medical malpractice between Ted Frank (Manhattan Institute) and Shirley Svorny (Cato Institute) [PoL]
  • Lawyers, accountants have done well from litigation-ridden Pearlman Ponzi aftermath [Orlando Sentinel]
  • Book drop “inherently dangerous”, says rape victim’s family suing library designers [Florida, LISNews]
  • “The iTunes Class Action Lawsuit You’ll Never Hear About”[NJLRA] “Jackson v. Unocal – Class Actions Find a Welcome Home in Colorado” [Karlsgodt]
  • Another tot accused of sexual harassment, this time a first grader [Boston Herald, earlier (six year old's "assault")]
  • Profile of lawyer who defends fair use of clips for documentary makers [ABA Journal]


November 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 8, 2011

I joined the radio host yesterday evening to talk about how sexual harassment law works in practice, in light of the reports that presidential candidate Herman Cain was a target in two employee actions alleging “inappropriate” conduct. More on the “hostile environment” branch of harassment law here.

July 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 18, 2011

  • Per New Jersey court, overly sedentary home office job can result in valid worker’s comp claim [Courier-Post, NJLRA]
  • Trial bar’s AAJ denies it played “direct” role in backing “Hot Coffee” [WaPo, some background]
  • “Cop repeatedly harasses waitresses, never disciplined. Feds defend their civil rights by . . . suing the restaurant.” [Palm Beach Post via Radley Balko]
  • On “unauthorized practice of law” as protective moat around profession’s interests, Britain does things differently [Gillian Hadfield via Andrew Sullivan; related, Larry Ribstein] Forthcoming book by Robert Crandall et al urges lawyer deregulation [Brookings]
  • “The Treaty Clause Doesn’t Give Congress Unlimited Power” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Golan v. Holder case headed to Supreme Court]
  • The small bank regulatory shakedown blues [Kevin Funnell] Why is the Department of Justice including gag orders as part of its enforcement decrees against banks on race and lending? [Investors Business Daily via PoL] “Emigrant fights back against mortgage-discrimination suits” [Fisher, Forbes] Dodd-Frank squeezing out community banks [Funnell]
  • “North Carolina to Seize Speeding Cars That Fail to Pull Over” [The Newspaper] “With what, a tractor beam?” [James Taranto]


July 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 7, 2011

  • Correct result, yet potential for mischief in latest SCOTUS climate ruling [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, my earlier take]
  • Wouldn’t even want to guess: how the Howard Stern show handles sexual harassment training [Hyman]
  • Philadelphia: $21 million award against emergency room handling noncompliant patient [Kennerly]
  • Antitrust assault on Google seems geared to protect competitors more than consumers [Josh Wright]
  • “They knew there was a risk!” Curb your indignation please [Coyote]
  • Theme issue of Reason magazine on failures of criminal justice system is now online;
  • “Why Your New Car Doesn’t Have a Spare Tire” [Sam Kazman, WSJ]


Dershowitz on DSK case

by Walter Olson on June 13, 2011

Cynical? Even more so than usual? The Harvard lawprof lays out a theory that ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his accuser share an interest in cooperating to foil prosecutor Cy Vance [Newsweek]


Federal regulators and private complainants step up pressure for tougher university disciplinary action against offensive males — and speech-related offenses will be very much under scrutiny. [Greg Lukianoff/Daily Caller, Harvey Silverglate and Kyle Smeallie/Minding the Campus, Caroline May/Daily Caller]

More: The Yale Alumni Magazine notes that DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon) brought the University “bad publicity.” And Dave Zincavage has been blogging critically about the affair. Further: Scott Greenfield.


A fraternity has already apologized for its role in loutish public expressions, but that isn’t nearly enough for some complainants who’ve initiated an investigation by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights that puts Yale at risk of losing its $500 million in federal funding if it isn’t sufficiently cooperative. Peter Berkowitz in the Wall Street Journal:

That Yale finds itself under pressure from the government, in the face of stupid frat-boy initiation rituals obviously designed to humiliate the pledges themselves, dramatizes how far government and higher education have drifted from the principles of freedom. … What is really at stake in the current investigation of Yale is the proper mission of the university. The complainants, not a few university administrators and faculty, and powerful forces at work in the Department of Education seem to think that one of a university’s top priorities is policing students’ opinions and utterances to ensure that they adopt government-approved ideas about sexual relations. That priority can’t be reconciled with the imperatives of a liberal education.

If a letter just sent to alumni by Yale President Richard Levin is any indication, the university may not intend to put up much of a public stand on behalf of its autonomy of governance, the toleration granted even some offensive utterances in a community of unbridled expression, or the importance of due process for students accused of wrongdoing. Indeed, Levin’s letter does not make even the tamest and most tentative attempt to argue that anything about the OCR complaint is legally erroneous or worth resisting. The full text of the letter follows: [click to continue…]


A new Massachusetts law that went into effect last year allows neighbors and other unrelated complainants to seek restraining orders against each other, a legal remedy formerly confined mostly to use between family members. But there’s been a surge of filings seeking the new “harassment prevention orders,” and according to the clerk of the Boston municipal court, the law has wound up empowering “every kook in the world” to “file a harassment order against their neighbor or landlord or someone who just annoys them.” Among cases: “One man took his neighbor to Malden District Court for allegedly blowing leaves on his property, and a woman in Boston Municipal Court insisted that actor Chuck Norris used high frequency radio transmissions to harass her at home.” [Boston Globe]


Scott Greenfield thinks some legal academics may stand in need of a civil liberties refresher course.


I’m interviewed by Cato’s Caleb Brown (appx. 11 minutes). I discuss the roots in legal academia of developments ranging from modern tort law (thank you, William Prosser) to sexual harassment law (thank you, Catharine MacKinnon) and quite a few others besides.