Source: Paper presented at the University of Massachusetts Boston Conflict Studies Conference, held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is pervasive enough to warrant legal recourse under federal and state statutes. Harassment is largely underreported, yet private sector employers spend millions of dollars annually in the defense and settlement of harassment claims. The discrepancy between the underreporting of harassment and the high costs of addressing the problem indicates the need for more effective and efficient ways of managing this type of conflict. In this paper Marianne Smith Geula reviews the legal definitions of sexual harassment and describes phases of a harassment dispute. She also distinguishes common dispute resolution options and analyzes how different processes serve the interests of the parties to the dispute. In this regard, she highlights an inherent conflict between the employer as a party in a harassment claim and the employer’s unilateral advantage in determining the type of conflict resolution process being used to deal with the conflict.