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Sexual Harassment

Psychiatric Assessment in Employment Litigation

Liza H. Gold, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-012-8
  • Item #62012
Winner of the 2006 Manfred S. Guttmacher Award

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This comprehensive text stands alone in addressing sexual harassment from a forensic psychiatric perspective. Sexual Harassment: Psychiatric Assessment in Employment Litigation reviews the law, social science research, clinical experience, and principles of forensic evaluation relevant to the highly adversarial legal arena of sexual harassment litigation. This illuminating guide covers every aspect of psychiatric assessment in sexual harassment litigation: definition/legal history, bias/gender, credibility/malingering, welcomeness, reasonableness, causation, and emotional injury and damages. In an area where few training or educational opportunities exist, Dr. Gold presents a structured framework for these evaluations, including case examples that bring this framework to life.

No single response or specific psychiatric problem is associated with sexual harassment. Not all experiences of sexual harassment even constitute illegal employment discrimination. The term itself covers a wide range of behaviors, from annoying to traumatic. Likewise, the responses to such events, real or perceived, are broadly diverse. Further, the difficulties and ambiguities that arise at the interface of psychiatry, the legal system, and the social issues raised by sexual harassment make the application of psychiatric knowledge and expertise in such cases uniquely challenging.

This work provides invaluable assistance in helping mental health experts meet these challenges while also serving the legal system's goal of adjudicating disputes in the interest of serving justice. It emphasizes that experts should

  • Base their evaluations and testimony on a thorough evaluation of the issues in each case.
  • Acquire the intellectual tools needed, including familiarity with gender issues, the effects of stress and trauma, the scope and effects of sexual harassment, and an awareness of the potential biases that may influence opinions.
  • Understand the scientific basis of their testimony.

As the definitive work on the forensic psychiatric aspects of sexual harassment, this work explores and bridges the interface between the law, social science, psychiatry, and employment issues. This classic volume will provide invaluable assistance to psychiatrists and psychologists in formulating credible, well-reasoned opinions in an evolving and controversial area of the law. Other mental health professionals and educators, as well as members of the legal and human resources community, will also find that this in-depth study increases their understanding and appreciation of the complexities and challenges of psychiatric evaluations in sexual harassment litigation.


  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. The psychiatric expert in sexual harassment litigation
  • Chapter 2. Sexual harassment: definition, legal history, and legal process
  • Chapter 3. Bias in the assessment of sexual harassment claims
  • Chapter 4. Gender, the workplace, and sexual harassment
  • Chapter 5. Sexual harassment research, science, and Daubert
  • Chapter 6. Special issues in and guidelines for the psychiatric evaluation and interview
  • Chapter 7. Credibility assessments and malingering in sexual harassment litigation
  • Chapter 8. The assessment of welcomeness
  • Chapter 9. The reasonable person and sexual harassment
  • Chapter 10. Psychiatric diagnosis and the assessment of causation
  • Chapter 11. Emotional injury and the assessment of damages
  • Chapter 12. A framework for psychiatric evaluation in sexual harassment litigation
  • References
  • Legal Case Index
  • Subject Index

About the Authors

Liza H. Gold, M.D., is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director of the Program in Psychiatry and Law at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She has a private practice in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Gold's compact, thorough, and well-researched book on sexual harassment serves as a roadmap for those forensic psychiatrists who are just venturing into this complex area, and as a valuable reference source for those more experienced. . . . Dr. Gold's book should enlighten and stimulate any student of this topic, and is highly recommended.—American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry

Liza Gold has produced a sophisticated, comprehensive, and thoughtful treatment of psychiatric assessment of sexual harassment in employment litigation. It is a balanced integration of the relevant law, policy, science, and clinical practice. No forensic psychiatrist who ventures into employment litigations should be without this book, and no lawyer should retain a forensic psychiatrist in employment litigation who has not read it.—Daniel Shuman, Professor of Law, Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

On this sensitive and controversial topic, Dr. Gold successfully blends comprehensive coverage of the subject; a deep understanding of the relevant research into women's psychology and sociology; analysis of workplace dynamics; and a laudably balanced view of the clinical, social, and forensic aspects of sexual harassment. She manages somehow to avoid all the predictable pitfalls into which previous discussions have fallen: rigid ideology, antifeminism, legalism, and radical victimology. As a result, this will unquestionably be the definitive text on this subject for decades to come.—Thomas G. Gutheil, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Past President, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

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