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Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services
MyWikiBiz, Author Your Legacy — Thursday June 20, 2013
|Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc.|
|Supreme Court of the United States|
|Argued December 8, 1997
Decided March 4, 1998
|Title VII's protection against discrimination in the workplace "because of... sex" applies to harassment between members of the same sex.|
|Chief Justice: William Rehnquist
Associate Justices: John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer
|Majority by: Scalia
Joined by: Rehnquist, Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer
Concurrence by: Thomas
|Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964|
Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Supreme Court of the United States. The case arose out of a suit for sex discrimination by a male oil-rig worker, who claimed that he was repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment by his male coworkers with the acquiescence of his employer. The Court held that Title VII's protection against workplace discrimination "because of... sex" applied to harassment in the workplace between members of the same sex., was a decision of the
Facts of the case
In late October 1991, Oncale was working for Sundowner Offshore Services on a Chevron USA Inc. oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. He was employed as a roustabout on an eight-man crew. On several occasions, Oncale was forcibly subjected to sex-related, humiliating actions against him by his coworkers in the presence of the rest of the crew. Oncale was also sodomized with a bar of soap, and threatened with rape. Oncale's complaints to supervisory personnel produced no remedial action. Instead, the company's Safety Compliance Clerk called him a name suggesting homosexuality. Oncale eventually quit -- asking that his pink slip reflect that he "voluntarily left due to sexual harassment and verbal abuse."
Oncale filed a complaint against Sundowner in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, alleging that he was discriminated against in his employment because of his sex. Relying on earlier precedents, the district court held that "Mr. Oncale, a male, has no cause of action under Title VII for harassment by male co-workers." Oncale appealed, and the Supreme Court reversed the decision.
Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services set the precedent for analyzing same-sex harassment, and sexual harassment without motivation of "sexual desire", stating that any discrimination based on sex is actionable so long at it places the victim in an objectively disadvantageous working condition, regardless of the gender of either the victim, or the harasser.
The application of the Oncale case has caused some difficulty in the lower federal courts, which have struggled with how to determine whether any particular case of same-sex harassment is "because of sex." In particular, courts have struggled with how to deal with harassment that appears to be based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, because employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is not forbidden by U.S. federal law.
Because it set a precedent regarding harassment "because of sex," Oncale v. Sundowner has been lauded as a landmark "gay rights" case, even though all those involved were heterosexual. 
- Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., Certiorari to the United States court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- Opinion of the Supreme Court
- Gay rights
- Sexual harassment
- Hostile environment sexual harassment
- Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson
- Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story movie about Ellison v. Brady which set the "reasonable woman" precedent in sexual harassment law.
- Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co.
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 523