Court Rules Same-Sex Harassment Illegal

The Supreme Court ruled by common consent that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against sexual harassment in the workplace, includes harassment by members of the same sex. The court ruled in favor of Joseph Oncale in Oncale vs. Sundowner Offshore Services. Oncale had charged the company with ignoring complaints that he was sexually harassed and assaulted by male co-workers while on the job.

Steven Shapiro, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “It clearly states that no one should have to suffer sexual harassment when going to work in the morning … and it shouldn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, gay or straight.”

Elizabeth Birth, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, commented, “Civil rights will no longer unfairly exclude same-sex sexual harassment, and this fact will benefit all American workers.”


Washington Post - March 5, 1998

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