Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: Essay

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Examining Title VII and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act 1 Introduction Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an “individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” 2 From the time of its inception, Title VII has given victims of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination a claim of action against their employers for the discriminatory acts of co-workers, supervisors, and even customers. Title VII evolved over the years to establish both guidelines for defining sexual harassment in the workplace and recommendations for dealing with this problem. In 1977, Michigan adopted the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act in accordance with Title VII. This statute proscribes that an employer shall not discriminate “because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, weight or marital status.” 3 The Michigan statute closely mirrors Title VII, and indeed Michigan courts often look to federal case law for guidance in sexual harassment cases. However, Michigan carefully distinguishes its statute and addresses sexual harassment in its own way. 4 This article will explore both Title VII and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act as they apply to sexual harassment in the workplace. 1 Second year law student, Michigan State DCL College of Law. B.A., Michigan State University, 2000. Jenni joined the Women’s Legal Forum & Gender Review as a Note and Comment Editor in the fall of 2003. 2 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2 (2003). 3 Mich. Comp. Laws Ann § 37.2202(a) (West 2003). 4 See Chambers v. Trettco, Inc., 463 Mich. App. 297, 614 N.W.2d 910 (2000) where the Michigan Supreme Court stated: “‘We are many times guided in our interpretation of the Michigan Civil Rights Act by
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