South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Sexual Harassment Based on Homosexuality May Be Basis of Title VII Action
Description Appeals court held that an openly gay male who contended that he was subject to constant physical and verbal harassment at work by male co-workers because of his sexual orientation has a cause of action to sue his employer under Title VII which prohibits all sexual harassment.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sexual Harassment; Homosexuality
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Medina Rene, who is openly gay, worked for the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas for two years. During his employment, he contends that his male supervisor and coworkers subjected him to a hostile work environment on a daily basis. He was subject to crude jokes, being called names, and unwelcome physical touching. He sued the hotel for sexual harassment, noting that the reason for the harassment was his sexual orientation. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that his claim of sexual orientation discrimination is not recognized under Title VII. Rene appealed.

Reversed. The fact that harassment may be motivated by hostility based on an employee's sexual orientation is irrelevant. Title VII forbids offensive sexual touching whether it is same-sex touching or not. The alleged acts would constitute discrimination because of sex as they created a hostile work environment.

Citation Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 305 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir., 2002)

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