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Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson

United States Supreme Court
477 U.S. 57, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 91 L.Ed.2d 49 (1986)



In 1974, Mechelle Vinson (plaintiff) was hired by Sidney Taylor to work at a branch office of Meritor Savings Bank (Meritor) (defendant). Taylor, a Meritor vice president and branch manager, became Vinson’s supervisor. Vinson, by her own merit, was eventually promoted to assistant branch manager. In 1978, Vinson took sick leave and was eventually let go for excessive use of the sick-leave policy. Following her termination, Vinson sued Meritor and Taylor, alleging sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. According to Vinson, although her relationship with Taylor was initially strictly professional, Taylor began making unwelcome sexual advances toward Vinson shortly after she was hired. At trial, Vinson testified that she first refused Taylor’s advances, but eventually agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with him because she feared losing her job. Over the course of several years, Vinson and Taylor continued having intercourse; additionally, Vinson testified that Taylor fondled her in front of other employees, exposed himself to her at work, and forcibly raped her several times. Vinson never reported the harassment to Taylor’s supervisors or filed an official complaint with Meritor. Taylor denied the allegations and contended Vinson’s accusations stemmed from a business dispute. The district court concluded that Vinson was not a victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, because she did not suffer any economic harm, and any intimate relationship she had with Taylor was voluntary. The court of appeals reversed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

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