5/06/2004 Add a comment

Jeremy, a Harvard Law School blogger, has more to say about the Friends sexual harassment lawsuit. I agree with him that a TV writers' room is a different kind of work environment than, say, the corporate headquarters at Warner Brothers--but I am also troubled by the implications that this has for sexual harassment lawsuits generally. If sexual harassment is all context-dependent, that erodes standards for acceptable behavior and put the courts in the difficult position of having to interpret subtext and interpersonal behavior. Besides, what if a woman works on an oil rig and the "context" is one of lewd jokes, obscene remarks, and ass-slapping? In that example, the context is clearly one of harassment and she deserves to be safe in her work environment. Basically, I think that while context matters, it's not a get-out-of-litigation-free pass. And even in the "creative context" of TV writing, it's hard to imagine how jokes about Joey becoming a serial rapist and Courtney Cox's fertility are creatively justified. Gretchen