Copyright (c) 1993 Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education
Temple Law Review
RECENT DECISIONS: CIVIL RIGHTS - Title VII Protection For Centerfold - Burns v. McGregor Electronic Industries, Inc., 955 F.2d 559 (8th Cir.), on remand to 807 F. Supp. 506 (N.D. Iowa 1992), rev'd, 989 F.2d 959 (8th Cir. 1993).
66 Temp. L. Rev. 1039
Caroline M. Kurz
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an "individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 1 Prior to 1976, courts refused to recognize sexual harassment as sex discrimination under Title VII. 2 In 1980, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") promulgated guidelines that specifically stated that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. 3 Since 1980, the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts have consistently referred to the EEOC guidelines in recognizing sexual harassment as sex discrimination under Title VII. 4
In 1986, the United States Supreme Court first addressed the issue of workplace sexual harassment in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. 5 The Meritor Court unanimously held that sexual harassment that creates a "hostile environment" constitutes illegal sex discrimination under Title VII. 6 The Court restricted actionable hostile work environment claims to harassment that is so severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of employment and creates a hostile and abusive work environment. 7 The Court, however, failed to provide the lower federal courts with standards to assess whether the alleged sexual harassment is so severe and pervasive as to create a hostile work environment under Title VII. 8
Because the Supreme Court provided little guidance, the lower federal courts developed several different tests to evaluate hostile work environment claims of sexual harassment. The first approach involves a two-pronged test: an objective test based on the ...
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