Yahoo Justice

The Supreme Court that has recently issued its anti-harassment decision sits in the middle of a city under siege. Justices who have pronounced the nation's employers liable for "permitting a hostile environment" to exist in the workplace cannot walk within two blocks of the Supreme Court building without being confronted with the most hostile of environments. Visitors to the nation's capital plan their monument tours around the schedules of street hustlers, muggers, and murderers who own the streets after sunset, impelling Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly to request help from the National Guard. Instead of grappling with the mayhem outside, Congress and the nation's criminal justice system have turned their attentions to something far more manageable—workplace harassment and speech control.

"This decision is only a blow to Yahoos," said Burke Stinson, an AT&T spokesman. Mr. Stinson and other Fortune 500 guys who have spent big bucks on shiny new sexual harassment brochures and seminars are not worried. With their fleet of expensive in-house lawyers, they are confident of their ability to negotiate sticky situations. But the Yahoos, many of whom are small business owners and their employees, are about to get it big-time. These business owners, many of whom you might say are works-in-progress, or ripe plums waiting to be picked, are now subject to fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars for "permitting...

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