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Sexual Harassment - Judicial Precedent Set By U.s. Supreme Court

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After 1980, a few states passed their own statutes prohibiting sexual harassment on the job. Although a lower court case decided in 1976 supported the idea of sexual harassment as an illegal form of sex discrimination in Williams v. Saxbe, it was not until 1986 that the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue. A precedent was sent on 19 June 1986 when the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed what the lower federal courts had held since 1976: sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal and protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The 1986 case involving Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson became a legal turning point for cases dealing with sexual harassment. Moreover, even though the Court was not legally required to do, the Court used the EEOC's regulations against discrimination from which the sexual harassment prohibition originated to decide sexual harassment issues.

Decisions made after 1986 by state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court further clarified what constituted sexual harassment under the Civil Rights Act. In some instances, employees found protection and remedies under state laws. A 1991 Florida case, Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., supported the idea that the display of pictures of a sexual nature at work constituted a form of sexual harassment.

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