Sexual Harassment Case

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The sexual harassment case I chose was Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services of 1998. Joseph Oncale was and oil rig worker who claimed he was harassed by fellow male co-workers. An example of some of the harassment he faced is described as, “Oncale was subjected to sex-related, humiliating actions, including being sodomized with a bar of soap” (Sexual Harassment). Oncale proceeded to bring these acts to the attention of his supervisors. However, this led to name-calling by his supervisors as opposed to them taking action. Later on Oncale decided to quit his job. His only request was that his pink slip say, “that he ‘voluntarily left due to sexual harassment and verbal abuse’” (Sexual Harassment). When asked why he quit his job during deposition, Oncale responded “‘I felt that if I didn’t leave my job, that I would be raped or forced to have sex’” (Oncale). Oncale then filed complaints to the U.S. District Court for Eastern Louisiana. This was to no avail as they were dismissed. Oncale appealed this decision but it was confirmed by the court of appeals. He continued his journey for justice by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, who reversed the decision. The Supreme Court stated that “same-sex discrimination can occur not only in situations involving quid pro quo harassment, but also where a hostile work environment has been created” (Sexual Harassment). The main debate in the case was if same-sex sexual harassment was actionable under Title VII. “Title VII declares it unlawful for an employer ‘to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin’” (Nieves). Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services would end up being a landmark case for gay rights in the

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