Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

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Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services,O NCALE V . S UNDOWNER O FFSHORE S ERVICES , I NC . S UPREME C OURT OF THE U NITED S TATES ,523 U.S. 75 (1998).[Joseph Oncale worked for Sundowner Offshore Ser-vices, Inc., as a roustabout on anoil platform in theGulf of Mexico. On several occasions, he was forcibly subjected to sex-related,humiliating actions by three male crew members, two of whom had supervisory authority over him.Oncale ’ s complaints to supervisory personnel produced no remedial action. Oncale eventually quitbecause of the sexual harassment. He filed a complaint against his employer, claiming that sexualharassment directed against him by coworkers in their workplace constituted “ discrimination ... becauseof ... sex ” prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Relying on Fifth Circuit precedent, the districtcourt held that Oncale, a male, had no Title VII cause of action for harassment by male cow-orkers. TheFifth Circuit affirmed.] SCALIA, J ... . Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides, in relevant part, that“ [it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer ... to discriminate against any individualwith respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of suchindividual ’ s race, color, religion, sex,or national origin. ” 78 Stat. 255, as amended, 42U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). We have held that this not only covers “terms” and “ conditions ” in the narrow contractualsense, but “ evinces a congressional intent to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment ofmen and women in employment. ” Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 64 (1986). “ Whenthe workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficientlysevere or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim ’ s employment and create an abusive workingenvironment, Title VII is violated. ” Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993) (citations andinternal quotation marks omitted).Title VII ’ s prohibition of discrimination “ because of ... sex ” protectsmen as well as women, Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. EEOC, 462U.S. 669, 682 (1983) ... .... In the context of a “ hostile environment ” sexual harassment claim, the state and federal courts havetaken a bewildering variety of stances. Some, like the Fifth Circuit in this case, have held that same sexsexual harassment claims are never cognizable under Title VII. See also, e.g., Goluszek v. H.P. Smith,697F. Supp. 1452 (ND Ill. 1988). Other decisions say that such claims are actionable only if the plaintiffcan prove that the harasser is homosexual (and thus presumably motivated by sexual desire). CompareMcWilliams v. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 72 F.3d 1191 (CA4 1996), with Wrights on v. PizzaHut of America, 99 F.3d 138 (CA4 1996). Still others suggest that workplace harassment that is sexual incontent is always actionable, regardless of the harasser ’ s sex, sexual orientation, or motivations. SeeDoe v.Belleville, 119 F.3d 563 (CA7 1997).We see no justification in the statutory language or ourprecedents for a categorical rule excluding same-sex harassment claims from the coverage of Title VII... .Our holding ... must extend to sexual harassment of any kind that meets the statutory requirements.Respondents and their amici contend that recognizing liability for same-sex harassment will transformTitle VII into a general civility code for the American workplace. But that risk is no greater for same-sexthan for opposite sex harassment, Copyright | CENGAGE Learning | Labor and Employment Law |Edition 15 | francistax@aol.com | Printed fromwww.chegg.comsame-sex than for opposite sex harassment, and is adequately met by careful attention to the require-ments of the statute. Title VII does not prohibit all verbal or physical harassment in the workplace; it isdirected only at “ discrimination ... because of ... sex. ” We have never held that workplace harassment,
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