Law On Sexual Harassment
Q: How is that different than any other cause of legal action, like, say,
slander or libel or theft? I can sue you right now and claim you stole
my watch. And vice versa. Does the possibility of such a frivolous
suit mean that property laws are "moving targets"?
A: Usually the majority of libel cases (or for that matter thefts, though it's a criminal offense rather than a tort) settled out of court by publishers who can't afford the costs of a trial. The complaints about "chilling effect" on protected expression aren't merely hypothetical in this arena, they're fairly well-documented, ever since the early 80's, when a small Pennsylvania paper got hit with a $1.8 million judgement because a reporter wrote a memo to his boss naming someone as a possible target of an investigation. (The lower court ruled that this constituted libel against a non-public figure even though only three people ever saw the memo and no story was written about it). Few and far between are the publications that will stand up even to a threatened libel suit, and editors routinely warn reporters off story angles that might generate legal action. The law on sexual harassment simply isn't unusual in this supposed respect. sexual harassment claims are usually resolved via private hearing committees, which are often, as a matter of policy, *required* to perform a full investigation of *all* complaints, regardless how lacking in merit they may appear. As we all should well know, just the threat of an *investigation* is substantially coercive.
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