A Legal Theory Begins to Take Hold
Plaintiff Former employee Ann Hopkins alleged she was denied partnership in 1983 because she didn’t act feminine enough.
Result The Supreme Court in 1989 ruled “sex discrimination” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination based on sex stereotypes.
Sundowner Offshore Services
Plaintiff Former employee Joseph Oncale alleged he was sexually harassed in 1991 by other male employees.
Result The court unanimously ruled in 1998 that same-sex sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII regardless of whether it’s what Congress had in mind when it passed the law.
Federal Aviation Administration
Plaintiff Former air traffic controller David Baldwin alleged he wasn’t promoted because he’s gay.
Result The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled for Baldwin last year and said it will now treat sexual-orientation discrimination claims as sex-discrimination claims.