The Limits of Law: Sexual Harassment and Institutional Culture

Lecture Date


Streaming Media


Professor Grossman discusses the ineffectiveness of law in reducing the level of workplace harassment and in ensuring appropriate compensation for victims. Explains the rules governing employer liability for sexual harassment and the behavioral incentives created for employers, harassers and victims. She argues that the legal incentives are misplaced because preventative measures, such as anti-harassment policies, procedures, and training, have proven effective. By overlooking the role employers place in creating and controlling workplace culture and in maintaining gender-imbalanced workforces, the law fails to create appropriate incentives for employers that might lead to the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Speaker Information

Professor Grossman joined the Hofstra faculty in 1999 and served as the Associate Dean for Faculty Development from 2004-08. She was named the John DeWitt Gregory Research Scholar for 2010-11. She has also taught in the law schools at Vanderbilt, University of North Carolina, Cardozo, and Tulane. She writes extensively about family law, especially state regulation of marriage. She is the co-author, with Lawrence M. Friedman, of Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America (Princeton 2011), a comprehensive social history of family law in the United States. She also writes about sex discrimination and workplace equality, with a special focus on issues such as sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. She is the co-editor, with Linda McClain, of Gender Equality: Dimensions of Women's Equal Citizenship (Cambridge University Press 2009), an interdisciplinary anthology that explores persistent gaps between formal commitments to gender equality and the reality of women’s lives. She has published articles in Stanford Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and the Yale Journal on Law and Feminism, among other places. Professor Grossman teaches Family Law; Wills, Trusts & Estates; and a variety of courses relating to gender and law.

A graduate with distinction from Stanford Law School, Professor Grossman served as the articles development editor of the Stanford Law Review and was elected to Order of the Coif. She served as a law clerk to Judge William A. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, before spending a year as staff counsel at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., as recipient of the Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship. She practiced law from 1996 to 1998 at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly.

Professor Grossman is a regular columnist for Justia’s Verdict and has served on the editorial board of Perspectives, the magazine of the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession. Professor Grossman was selected to deliver Hofstra University's Distinguished Faculty Lecture in 2004 and Hofstra University’s Annual Diversity Lecture in 2010. She was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 2009, and was inducted into Long Island’s "40 Under 40" in 2005.

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