Article of the Week: Professor Martha Chamallas, “Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception”

This week Washington Post columnist George Will accused progressives of turning rape into a “coveted status.” As Professor Hamilton explained yesterday, Will’s commentary was completely ignorant about rape victims’ long-term suffering and the fact that law often gives rapists, not rape victims, coveted status.
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Professor Martha Chamallas’s perceptive article, “Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception,” identifies another area of the law where sex abuse victims are treated worse than other victims, receiving lesser status, not coveted status. Usually employers are liable to pay tort damages for the misconduct of their employees that causes harm to third parties. This is true in non-sexual cases, even when drunken employees violently attack people.  Chamallas demonstrates that in cases involving sexual violence, abuse and violation, however, the courts have consistently ruled that employers are not liable, thus leaving the most vulnerable victims unprotected when their harms are the greatest.
If Will would read Chamallas and Hamilton, he would understand that victims of sexual violence continue to lack status in the courts. They seek only the status that all Americans should enjoy, namely equal access to justice.
Leslie C. Griffin

Leslie C. Griffin

Dr. Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law. Professor Griffin, who teaches constitutional law, is known for her interdisciplinary work in law and religion. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.