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Idle Rights: Employees' Rights Consciousness and the Construction of Sexual Harassment Policies

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This article analyzes women's legal consciousness in responding to unwanted sexual attention in the workplace. By focusing on a particular social problem, this study is situated in the particular legal domain of sexual harassment laws and in a specific organizational context. Taking the perspective of the intended beneficiaries of sexual harassment policies and procedures—women with complaints about sexual conduct in the workplace—I show that the implementation of grievance procedures creates powerful obstacles to women's efforts to assert those rights. Moreover, the practices implementing the policies can alter the very definition of sexual harassment in that setting. Thus, in enacting grievance procedures, women and supervisors construct a legality in particular workplaces that offers only limited protection for women's rights.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0023-9216.2005.00078.x

Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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