A defining moment: a feminist perspective on the law of sexual harassment in the workplace in the light of the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive

Samuels, H. 2004. A defining moment: a feminist perspective on the law of sexual harassment in the workplace in the light of the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive. Feminist Legal Studies. 12 (2), pp. 181-211.

TitleA defining moment: a feminist perspective on the law of sexual harassment in the workplace in the light of the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive
AuthorsSamuels, H.
Abstract

This article considers, from a feminist perspective, the introduction of the European Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (E.T.A.D.) and its impact on the law of sexual harassment in the United Kingdom. Since feminists identified sexual harassment as a problem for women in the 1970s, feminist legal scholars have focused their attention on the law as a means of redressing it. Bringing claims in the U.K. has been difficult because of the absence of a definition of sexual harassment and reliance in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 on a comparator approach. These problems are illustrated by the recent House of Lords decision in Pearce v. Governing Body of Mayfield Secondary School(2003). The failure of the House of Lords in Pearce to understand sexual harassment as an issue of substantive equality for women makes the introduction of the European law all the more the pressing. The author discusses the implications of the changes embodied in the E.T.A.D. in the light of feminist theory. She argues that the changes envisaged constitute welcome developments which will make it easier to remedy workplace sexual harassment. However, it is also likely that problems will remain for women in establishing sexual harassment claims, particularly if concepts of reasonableness and unwelcome behaviour continue to form part of the legal definition.

JournalFeminist Legal Studies
Journal citation12 (2), pp. 181-211
ISSN0966-3622
YearOct 2004
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1023/B:FEST.0000043307.48041.64
Publication dates
PublishedOct 2004

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