Please Help: 1997 Sexual Harassment Law
Q: In 1997, President Bill Clinton supposedly signed into law making a
defendant's previous sexual history relevant in sexual harassment cases.
What was the name of this law? I can't find any reference to it except for
the rantings of a few political commentators, and they don't mention a name
or anything else that could be used to check the facts. Does this law truly
exist? If so, then provide the name.
A: There is no federal law that deals with sexual harassment. All federal sexual harassment cases are based upon judicial interpretations of the Civil Rights Act. These case do not deal with individual acts of harassment, but a pattern of harassment that amounts to discrimination on the base of sex. And interesting parallel: http://www.seyfarth.com/practice/labor/articles/ll_1204.html The passage of interest: Inquiries Into Plaintiffs Sexual History Employers defending sexual harassment lawsuits frequently seek discovery about the plaintiffs sexual history, typically to show that the plaintiff consented to the challenged conduct or that the challenged conduct was not unwelcome. As part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Congress amended the Federal Rules of Evidence (effective December 1, 1994) to provide that in civil cases, evidence offered to prove the sexual behavior or sexual predisposition of any alleged victim will be admissible only if its probative value substantially outweighs the danger of harm to any victim and of unfair prejudice to any party. The amended rule also provides that [e]vidence of an alleged victim's reputation is admissible only if it has been placed in controversy by the alleged victim, and establishes a procedure to determine the admissibility of such evidence of sexual behavior or sexual predisposition, including a requirement for a written motion at least 14 days prior to trial and an in camera hearing to resolve the issue prior to trial. Comment The real impact of the amended rule will be felt during the discovery process in sexual harassment cases. The plaintiff will turn to the amended rule if the employer begins to probe the sexual background of the plaintiff.
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