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7th Circuit: Man failed to show sexual harassment

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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."

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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