7th Circuit: Man failed to show sexual harassment

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court's ruling in favor a man on his retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, finding the man didn't believe his supervisor's advances and threats were illegal.

In Alshafi Tate v. Executive Management Services, Inc., No. 07-2575, Executive Management Services appealed the District Court's ruling in Alshafi Tate's favor in his retaliation claim. Tate filed a suit against EMS, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation after he claims he was fired for not continuing a sexual relationship with his supervisor, Dawn Burban.

But Tate didn't engage in any protected activity, as required under Title VII, when he told Burban he didn't want to continue their sexual relationship to keep his job. To engage in protected conduct, Tate only has to show that he "reasonably believed in good faith that the practice he opposed violated Title VII," wrote Judge Ann Claire Williams. The 7th Circuit hasn't ruled on the issue of whether a person who rejects a supervisor's sexual advances has engaged in a protected activity. But even if the court assumes there may be circumstances in which a person who rejects his or her supervisor's sexual advances has engaged in protected activity, Tate failed to show he believed that Burban's actions were unlawful, Judge Williams continued.

Tate didn't make statements that indicated he believed he was being sexually harassed, and any statements he did make pointed to personal reasons for ending the relationship with Burban rather than concerns about the legality of her behavior.

"We do not dispute that Tate protested about Burban's behavior; the problem is that he did not necessarily believe that her behavior was illegal at the time," wrote Judge Williams. "While there are no 'magic words' that a plaintiff must use in order to indicate that the supervisor's behavior is unlawful ... the record is devoid of any statements that indicate sexual harassment was at issue."


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.