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NCJ Number: 149995 Find in a Library
Title: Role of Forensic Psychiatry in the Defense of Sexual Harassment Cases
Journal: Journal of Psychiatry and Law  Volume:20  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1992)  Pages:5-34
Author(s): S P Feldman-Schorrig; J J McDonald Jr
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 30
Type: Training (Aid/Material)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: One potent defensive tool often overlooked in sexual harassment lawsuits is the forensic evaluation of the plaintiff's mental and emotional condition.
Abstract: In defending themselves against sexual harassment claims, employers face a number of difficulties. First, most sexual harassment claims involve a credibility contest; the second difficulty is that absent an assault or other egregious behavior, sexual harassment is difficult to define precisely; third, sexual harassment claims are prone to exaggeration and embellishment, if not outright fabrication; and finally, a plaintiff may perceive behavior in the workplace to be harassing due to aspects of her own personality that cause her to be hypersensitive to workplace conduct that other female employees do not find offensive. Another difficulty involves the subjective nature of the psychological "harm" that might stem from sexual harassment. One potentially useful defense tool is the forensic psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. A psychological evaluation of the plaintiff can be useful in determining whether, and to what extent, a plaintiff has suffered psychological trauma. Also, a proper forensic evaluation can reveal a plaintiff's attempt at fabrication or embellishment of a claim. It can detect a plaintiff's false imputation to workplace events of psychological trauma that results from outside stressors. Finally, a forensic evaluation can reveal features of the plaintiff's personality that cause her to be hypersensitive to workplace behavior that most employees would not find offensive or that might cause her to create situations between herself and a boss or coworker that she might later characterize as sexual harassment. 76 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Civil proceedings; Defense counsel; Defense preparation; Expert witnesses; Forensic psychiatry; Sexual harassment
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