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Landmark Cases

Case Name: ONCALE v SUNDOWNER OFFSHORE SCVS

Date, Location, Cite: 1998 LA
118 S. Ct. 998, 523 U.S. 75
US SUPREME COURT

Joseph Oncale was working on an oil rig off the coast of Louisianna in 1991, and was repeatedly subjected to sexually related humiliating actions, including physical assault and threat of rape. Supervisors told him he was just too soft to take it. He quit, and sued, saying he felt he would be raped or forced to engage in sex if he stayed. The Federal District Ct said a male had no cause of action for sexual harrassement, as did the Fifth Curcit.
The Supreme Ct said same sex harrasement clearly is not excluded under Title VII. This case was reversed, and sent back for trial - males can sue for same sex harrasement. [JFH: There was ever a doubt?]
More interesting were coments in the case about sexual harrassment. "The critical issue is discrimination, not all harrasement. " "Conduct that is not severe enough to create an... abusive work environment....is beyond Title VII.....[I]ntersexual flirtation [is not] discriminatory term of employment.