Sexual harassment has emerged as a devastating reality in the American workplace. Courts have reviewed cases while lamenting about the imprecision in the law and its application to the facts. When jurisprudence joins neuroscience and analysis joins epigenetics a new approach to sexual harassment will emerge. The Article uses neuroscience and epigenetics to add precision to judging sexual harassment claims. The Article shows how the science of epigenetics can be used to accurately assess the victim’s injury and damages. Macro and micro-aggressions in a hostile work environment can have lasting effects on gene expression. Telomere length can degrade causing increased inflammation throughout the body. These epigenetic effects can be passed from generation to generation, infusing the injury of the victim throughout the family line. The Article also provides an introduction to three types of sexism, each related to a different set of neurophysiologic reactions: hostile, benevolent, and ambivalent. When hostile sexists view some women they have brain reactions that are directly linked to dehumanization and objectification. The Article also explores the brain reactions of the onlookers—the judge, jurors, witnesses, and employers, all of whom assess the harassment at different points in the process. The neurophysiologic reactions of these groups to a sexist joke can reveal the norms in the workplace that encourage or discourage harassment. Practitioners and finders of fact have accepted the imprecision surrounding judgements in sexual harassment cases for far too long.
"The Neuroscience and Epigenetics of Sexual Harassment: Brain Reactions, Gene Expressions, and the Hostile Work Environment Cause of Action,"
Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, & Social Justice: Vol. 7
, Article 2.
Available at: http://trace.tennessee.edu/rgsj/vol7/iss1/2