Disclosure (1994) is a movie about a computer scientist Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) who is sexually harrased by his new boss Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore). Meredith offers him a secure career and a corporate fast track if he satisfies her secual fantasies and has sex with her. Sanders is happily married with two kids and rejects Meredith’s advances. The next day he learns that Meredith has complained to the management that he tried to rape her. He decides to press charges related to sexual harrasment against Meredith. Management wants him to settle the case and move to another division, so the proposed merger of the company with a bigger company can go off peacefully. Sanders fights back and pursues the case to get Meredith punished for her behavior.
The movie about sexual harrasment of a man by a woman boss challenges the audience to think. As one of Sanders’ colleagues tells him “Who has ever heard of a women sexually harrasing a man!” (my paraphrasing). Sexual harrasment was once considered a problem that involved a male boss asking his female subordinate for sexual favors. However, as an increasing number of women move up in the corporate hierarchy the nature of sexual harrasment is changing. If sexual harrasment is about power and control as many believe, anybody (regardless of sex) may perpetuate it and victimize another person. However, as the movie demonstrates so well, social beliefs about a ‘man-on-woman’ model of sexual harrasment are so pervasive that a man who complains about being sexually harrased by a female boss is likely to have a difficult time proving his innocence and the other person’s guilt!
The movie is recommended for human resource management, organizational behavior, and business law classes. It is entertaining and thought-provoking!