Saturday, November 17, 2018

Harassment in Federal Prisons

Many of us are teaching Dothard v. Rawlinson this semester, one of the seminal employment discrimination cases discussing BFOQs and sex discrimination.  That Supreme Court decision focused on whether the state of Alabama could enforce a height and weight requirement for prison guards working in contact positions at an all-male prison.

Though Dothard took place decades ago, there is a fascinating piece just out in the New York Times about the treatment of female guards in the federal prison system.  The piece details some of the abusive conditions still faced by women in this environment. From the article:

“Some inmates . . . grope, threaten and expose themselves. . . [and] male colleagues can and do encourage such behavior, undermining the authority of female officers and jeopardizing their safety.”

The piece serves as a helpful teaching tool for class, tying Dothard back to the current working environment where we still see many of the same problems faced years ago.

- Joe Seiner

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I wrote a feminist version of that case for one of the Feminist Judgment anthologies. My opinion essentially argues that the case should have been treated as the first hostile workplace sexual harassment case.

Posted by: Maria Ontiveros | Nov 19, 2018 7:31:17 PM

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