Are Women Too Nice At the Office?

In her latest book, Deborah Tannen decodes battling gender dialects in the workplace

Earlier this month, Baker & McKenzie, the nation's largest law firm, was ordered to pay $7.1 million in damages to a secretary who endured the repeated breast groping and buttocks grabbing of a senior partner. Other women had previously complained about the unwanted advances made by this partner (he plucked at bra straps; he tickled feet), but the firm did little beyond reprimanding him.

The award, believed to be the highest ever for an individual sexual- harassment case, probably would not have been made in the pre-Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill era. But ever since the entire country pulled up to the tube...

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