10th Circuit rules for employee in sex discrimination case

Tennessee residents may be interested in a case involving a mechanic who claimed that he was fired because he refused to have sex with his female boss. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the Oklahoma trucking company that employed him must face the allegation in court. A lower court had ruled that the man didn't give adequate notice in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim of quid pro quo harassment.

However, the 10th Circuit ruled that since quid pro harassment and hostile workplace harassment are not wholly distinct claims, the lower court erred in its ruling. When the EEOC receives an hostile environment charge, it may also look into whether or not quid pro quo harassment took place because the two are similar in nature. Prior to a ruling made by the Supreme Court in 1998, some courts had treated the two issues as separate from each other.

An attorney for the man says that the ruling by the 10th Circuit may help others avoid having similar claims dismissed on technicalities. According to the EEOC, there should be no need to make any types of distinction between quid pro quo or hostile work environment harassment when the charges are actually filed. Essentially, it believes that both are valid ways of proving sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Employees who have experienced unlawful retaliation after refusing sexual advances may file a lawsuit claiming that their Title VII rights were violated. If the charge can be proven, they may be entitled to financial damages for back pay with interest in addition to other relief allowed by law. Workers may also be entitled to their former position with full pay and benefits as if the termination never occurred.

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