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At issue in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services (1998) was whether an employer could be liable for same-sex sexual harassment. Even though Oncale was not set in a school context, the U.S. Supreme Court's holding that such a claim is actionable should be instructive for all educators.

Facts of the Case

Joseph Oncale worked for Sundowner Offshore Services as a roustabout on a Chevron Oil Company oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, as one member of an eight-man crew. Two other members of the crew were supervisors. During the time Oncale worked on the platform, the two supervisors and another employee repeatedly subjected him to sex-related, humiliating actions in front of the rest of the crew. The supervisors also physically assaulted him in a sexual way, ...

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