Same Sex Harassment

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Same Sex Harassment

Imagine that you are in the shower of the gym at work and three co-workers enter, then hold you down to the ground while rubbing their genitalia across your bare skin. No matter what the circumstance you would find this behavior appalling and disgusting. Now think to yourself if every person involved had been a male. Would you say that they were just "horsing around?" I hope not.

The attitude of American society and legal culture regarding sexual harassment has changed over the last 35 years. Our progressive society has finally decided to look at the issue of whether harassment of a sexual nature by a member of your same gender is included in what Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was trying to protect employees against. Several courts have permitted same sex harassment; they were however, at odds over whether such claims were valid if the harassing individual were heterosexual. Claims have been found unlawful when one individual is homosexual thus the harassment involved sexual desire or interest. This was one issue at hand in the controversy over same sex harassment, whether or not both individuals could be heterosexuals. Although nowhere in Title VII does it say anything about sexual harassment or the conduct being based on sexual desire courts have interpreted the laws prohibition of discrimination based on an individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin to include sexual harassment as a form of discrimination.

Title VII makes it, "an unlawful employment practice for an 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 nati...

... middle of paper ... the "equal opportunity harasser" who discriminates on both male and female employees to be beyond the scope of Title VII since the harassment is not because of sex.

Some concerns for the long-range effects of the Oncale decision have been voiced. Fears that the broadened scope of Title VII claims will allow, "a flood of sexual harassment claims from a class of people who have never faced barriers to gender equality in the workplace," and the ultimate result being lesser protection for those women and men the legislature was intending to protect.

The courts acknowledge the existence of a fine line between horseplay and flirtation that may be a normal part of the workplace, and sexual harassment as discrimination in the workplace. The opinion of the court was written in a way to only forbid objectively offensive behavior to protect against frivolous claims.