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Harassment in the Workplace: 5 Examples From Famous Movies

Posted by Brian Vogel | Mar 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

Popular Hollywood movies often highlight the issues we face in our culture – the ones that we all recognize at least subconsciously but which we ignore or repress. The harassment people face in the workplace is one of the challenges cinema effectively explores. Employees often feel trapped because they need make a living, and they want to avoid saying or doing anything that could jeopardize the checks they need to pay rent, put groceries on the table and pay at least the minimums on their credits cards.

Consider how these popular films explain the complexities of workplace harassment in the United States. Do not let the comedies in this list fool you—harassment in the workplace is no joke.

Films About Harassment in the Workplace

  • Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011). From overly demanding bosses to outright sexual harassment from a dentist to her assistant, this movie pokes fun at what society often considers normal: workplace abuse.
  • Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994). A shocking movie for the time, this film switched the traditional gender roles of sexual harassment victims. The harassment of Michael Douglas' character by his supervisor, played by Demi Moore, threatens his livelihood and his home life.
  • Nine to Five (Colin Higgins, 1980). This film understood the challenges of women entering the workplace before the cultural conversation about it got started. Still, frustratingly in retrospect, the comedy undercuts serious issues women and men still often face in the business world.
  • Working Girl (Mike Nichols, 1988). Directed by one of the greats, the story highlights the challenges of entering the workplace and trying to get ahead while a boss takes credit for your work and ideas. The main character, Tess, is treated seemingly well by her boss, but soon she realizes the lady in charge is taking advantage of her, stealing her ideas, and preventing her from getting a well-earned promotion.
  • North Country (Niki Caro, 2005). This movie tells a fictional account of the first successful sexual harassment lawsuit. The director and writer based the film on the book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler. This novel chronicles the real-life case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company.

Know Your Rights

No one should suffer harassment in the workplace. Workplace harassment is particularly heinous, because it confines people in conditions they would otherwise not allow. Many employees worry that if they complain or take action, they will face the loss of cash flow as well as the loss of respect from peers and industry contacts. No one should feel threatened in the workplace. Call our experienced employment law attorneys to demand justice and find peace.

About the Author

Brian Vogel

Working Hard for Workers' Rights Brian I. Vogel graduated with a philosophy degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982 and with a law degree from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York in 1986 and has been a licensed California attorney since 1987. Employment attorney Brian Vo...


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