Four recent federal court opinions help illustrate the difficulties faced by claimants, as well as the courts, in connection with employment discrimination claims brought by homosexuals, alleging they were sexually harassed based on their sexual orientation.
In Simonton v. Runyon, 1999 WL 345956 (E.D.N.Y. May 26, 1999), U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler of the Eastern District of New York dismissed a complaint brought by a gay man alleging a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although he condemned the alleged harassing conduct as “offensive and unsuitable for any workplace,” Judge Wexler felt bound by prior case law that refused to extend Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on “sex” to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
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