Thursday, January 14, 2010

Abuse of Power? McCormick Comments in Newsweek on Male-Male Sexual Harassment

Mmccormick Congrats to Marcia for being cited in Newsweek in a recent article on male on male sexual harassment. Here's a taste:

The Cheesecake Factory is known for its oversize portions, delectable desserts, and family-friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is also accused of creating nothing but disturbing memories for a few of its employees. In 2008 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit after six Cheesecake Factory staffers claimed they were subjected to repeated sexual harassment at the chain's Chandler Mall location in Phoenix, including allegations of sexual fondling, simulated rape, and even being physically dragged into the restaurant's refrigerator. The Cheesecake Factory denies the charges; in November the company settled the dispute by paying $340,000 to the victims.

Surprisingly, it wasn't a group of female workers who were compensated by the popular eatery: it was a group of male employees who claim they were sexually harassed by other men in the workplace. And, as new EEOC filings show, this situation is not unusual . . . .

By exposing the men to taunts about their genitalia, sexually suggestive simulations, and lewd comments, the men perpetrating the harassment are seeking to embarrass and target the male victims—not sexually stimulate or "flirt" with them. "Sexual harassment is about using power in a way to hurt somebody," says Marcia McCormick, associate professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, who specializes in employment law and gender issues. In the Cheesecake Factory suit there were no allegations that supervisors were attracted to the other men—the sexual harassment was a form of intimidation, McCormick says . . . .

"It's really hard to say what motivates someone to harass except a desire to humiliate the person being harassed," McCormick says.

Ain't that the truth.  And Marcia is right on. There is too much confusion, even among law students, that sexual harassment is all about sexual desire.  Hardly. Intimidation and animosity play a large role too.

Read the whole article.


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