None of Your Business: Barring Evidence of Non-Workplace Harassment for Title VII Hostile Environment Claims
Alisha A. Patterson
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from sexual harassment inside the workplace. However, when workers socialize after hours, the most egregious incidents of sexual harassment often occur outside the workplace. The Circuit Courts of Appeal disagree on whether a plaintiff may introduce evidence of non-workplace sexual harassment to support a Title VII hostile environment claim. While the Sixth Circuit generally excludes evidence of non-workplace conduct, the First and Seventh Circuits generally admit such evidence. This split of authority has created uncertainty for employers, workers, and Title VII litigants. This Comment argues that the United States Supreme Court should resolve this split of authorities by affirming the Sixth Circuit‟s narrow interpretation of Title VII‟s anti-discrimination provision. The Sixth Circuit‟s interpretation comports with Title VII‟s plain language, Supreme Court precedent, and Title VII‟s agency-based employer-liability standards. Furthermore, the Sixth Circuit‟s interpretation discourages employers from implementing overreaching sexual harassment policies to insulate themselves from liability.