To say that the law is on the side of the–almost always male–perpetrator of sexual harassment is, to put it mildly, an understatement.  In recent days, the fear of bad press by companies or prominent individuals has done more to meet out at least some measure of justice to victims than the law has in decades.

Although the Supreme court ruled in its 1986 decision Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, it set the bar high.

The poisonous phrase in the decision was “severe or pervasive.”

In real courtrooms, the egregiousness of the act or acts almost always has to approach or meet the level of penetrating rape before a judge will consider it to be severe enough to be worthy of a court’s attention

To answer the question in the title, the courts consistently find that having a boss or co-worker grab one’s breasts is a trifle that women on the job should simply endure.

“In fact, courts routinely dismiss cases brought by workers who claim their supervisors propositioned them, kissed them or grabbed their breasts. The judges declare that the conduct does not constitute harassment in a legal sense, and refuse to let the cases go to trial.”

These days I have breasts (yes, they are real, I grew them myself!) and am sometimes on the receiving end of overt, sexual interest from straight men.

If the attention is coming from a gentleman, I find it flattering; but, now and then, it gets crude and offensive and unwanted and scary.

As a cisgender female friend said to me, “welcome to womanhood!”

See the 30 November 2017 New York Times article, “Boss Grab Your Breasts? That’s Not Legally Harassment.”


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