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5 - Harassment Because of Sex

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2020

Ann C. McGinley
Affiliation:
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Nicole Buonocore Porter
Affiliation:
University of Toledo, Ohio
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Summary

In Chapter 5, Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson and Oncale v. Sundowner Services deal, respectively, with the proof standards for sexual harassment and the question of whether and when Title VII forbids same-sex harassment. The rewritten Meritor dramatically alters the standard for employer liability, holding employers strictly liable for sexual harassment by supervisors, with no affirmative defense. Rewritten Oncale concludes that same-sex harassment (and hence harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity) are illegal sex discrimination that occur “because of sex.” By making employers strictly liable, the rewritten Meritor would have effectively precluded hundreds of subsequent lower court cases and two Supreme Court cases. While the original Oncale openly refused to relate the egregious harms that the plaintiff had allegedly suffered, the rewritten opinion employs feminist storytelling techniques to demonstrate the harms suffered by the male plaintiff at the hands of his male coworkers. It explains that harassment by men of other men often occurs because of societal pressures on men to prove their masculinity and to police the boundaries of sex and sexuality.

Type
Chapter
Information
Feminist Judgments
Rewritten Employment Discrimination Opinions
, pp. 215 - 265
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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