ANDERSON, Circuit Judge:
Appellant Robert Fredette brought this action against BVP Management Associates ("BVP"), alleging that Dana Sunshine, the male maitre d' or manager of BVP's restaurant, sexually harassed him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and in violation of the Florida Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, Fla.Stat. ch. 760 et seq.
In the summary judgment posture of this case, the magistrate judge properly accepted Fredette's proffered evidence as true and resolved all reasonable inferences of fact in his favor. The district court, noting that BVP did not object to the magistrate judge's statement of the facts, accepted the facts as set out by the magistrate judge. For purposes of this appeal, we may abbreviate the statement of the facts, providing only enough to make it apparent that this appeal involves both quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment sexual harassment arising from repeated instances of propositions for sexual favors. Fredette was a waiter in BVP's restaurant, and Mr. Sunshine, who is homosexual, was the maitre d' or manager. Fredette proffered evidence from which a factfinder could conclude that Fredette's supervisor, Mr. Sunshine, repeatedly propositioned him, offering employment benefits in exchange for Fredette's providing sexual favors to Mr. Sunshine, and when Fredette refused to comply and later reported the matter to management that Mr. Sunshine retaliated against Fredette in various work-related ways. There was similar evidence with respect to other male victims, and there was evidence that Mr. Sunshine provided work-related benefits to another male waiter who did accede to Mr. Sunshine's propositions.
The single issue presented in this appeal is whether, under the circumstances of this case, the sexual harassment of a male employee by a homosexual male supervisor is actionable under Title VII.
We begin with the language of the statute. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reads in relevant part:
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). We note first that the statute prohibits an "employer," whether male or female, from discriminating against "any individual," whether male or female. There is simply no suggestion in these statutory terms that the cause of action is limited to opposite gender contexts. Next we focus on the statute's causation requirement — i.e., that the discrimination occurs "because of such individual's ... sex." In the paradigm harassment case, where a heterosexual male makes unwelcome advances toward a female, we have readily concluded that the harassment occurred "because of sex." In Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897 (11th Cir.1982), we said:
Id. at 904. We think our observation in Henson is equally applicable to the situation where a homosexual male propositions another male. The reasonably inferred motives of the homosexual harasser are identical to those of the heterosexual harasser — i.e., the harasser makes advances towards the victim because the victim is a member of the gender the harasser prefers. Fredette proffered evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that he was the victim of sexual advances to which members of the opposite gender were not subjected. This was sufficient to survive summary judgment as to causation.
We next look to the legislative history of Title VII. Appellee has cited nothing, and we find nothing in the legislative history that suggests an express legislative intent to exclude same-sex harassment claims from the purview of Title VII. Instead, BVP argues by inference, suggesting that the legislative focus on discrimination against women by male-dominated employers indicates that Congress did not intend to provide a remedy for same-sex harassment. The obvious Congressional focus on discrimination against women has not precluded the courts from extending the protections of Title VII to men. Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. E.E.O.C., 462 U.S. 669, 681-82, 103 S.Ct. 2622, 2630, 77 L.Ed.2d 89 (1983) ("Male as well as female employees are protected against discrimination [under Title VII]."). Similarly, we conclude that the legislative history does not preclude our holding that same-sex harassment, at least in the instant circumstances, is actionable under Title VII.
The EEOC's interpretation of Title VII provides further support for appellant's argument that same-sex sexual harassment is actionable in the instant circumstances.
EEOC Compliance Manual (CCH) § 615.2(b)(3) (1987) (emphasis in original). The Compliance Manual in fact uses as an example of actionable same-sex harassment a case identical to the one before us today:
Looking to the relevant case law, we find that the Supreme Court has not addressed the issue of same-sex sexual harassment. The closest analogy in the Supreme Court case law involves reverse discrimination. In Johnson v. Transportation Agency, Santa Clara County, 480 U.S. 616, 107 S.Ct. 1442, 94 L.Ed.2d 615 (1987), a male plaintiff brought a Title VII action for sex discrimination based on the county's decision to promote a female applicant to the position of road dispatcher. The facts of Johnson clearly show that the decision alleged to be discriminatory was made by another man. Id. at 624-26, 107 S.Ct. at 1448. Notwithstanding the fact that the allegation was one of same-sex discrimination, the Court addressed the merits of whether or not discrimination in violation of Title VII had taken place. See also Wilson v. Bailey, 934 F.2d 301 (11th Cir.1991), and McQuillen v. Wisconsin Educ. Ass'n Council, 830 F.2d 659 (7th Cir.1987), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 914, 108 S.Ct. 1068, 99 L.Ed.2d 248 (1988) (both addressing the sex discrimination claims of male plaintiffs without assigning any significance to the fact that the relevant employment decisions were made by another male). We recognize that the cited opinions do not squarely address the issue of whether same-sex gender discrimination is excluded from the compass of Title VII. However, we think the widespread acknowledgement of the viability of reverse-discrimination claims (which often involve the same-sex context) stands as an implicit rejection of BVP's position.
The viability of same-sex harassment claims is also an issue of first impression in this circuit.
In a case much like the instant case, involving a male victim and repeated sexual advances by a male homosexual, the Sixth Circuit has found an actionable Title VII claim. See Yeary v. Goodwill Industries-Knoxville, Inc., 107 F.3d 443 (6th Cir.1997). To support its holding, the Yeary panel looked initially to the language of the statute, the rationale for the proscription against sexual harassment, and to the EEOC's Compliance Manual. In answer to the defendant's objection that only "traditional" notions of sex discrimination are actionable under Title VII, the court wrote:
Id. at 447-48. As for Title VII's causation requirement, the court concluded that "when a male sexually propositions another male because of sexual attraction, there can be little question that the behavior is a form of harassment that occurs because the propositioned male is a male — that is, `because of sex.'" Id. at 448.
Similarly, the Fourth Circuit in Wrightson v. Pizza Hut of America, Inc., 99 F.3d 138 (4th Cir.1996), held that a male employee could state a viable Title VII claim for sex discrimination against his employer on account
A number of other circuits have suggested in dicta that same-sex Title VII claims might be viable at least in some circumstances. In a 1977 case recognizing a sex discrimination cause of action for quid pro quo harassment involving a female employee and a male supervisor, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia suggested that similar claims involving parties of the same gender would also constitute actionable sex discrimination. See Barnes v. Costle, 561 F.2d 983, 990 n. 55 (D.C.Cir.1977) ("It is no answer [to the conclusion that the harassment at bar constituted sex discrimination] to say that a similar condition could be imposed on a male subordinate by a heterosexual female superior, or upon a subordinate of either gender by a homosexual superior of the same gender. In each instance, the legal problem would be identical to that confronting us now — the exaction of a condition which, but for his or her sex, the employee would not have faced.").
Numerous district courts have concluded that same-sex harassment claims (both of the hostile environment and quid pro quo varieties) can be actionable under Title VII.
Although we believe that the weight of the case law and the better-reasoned cases support Fredette's claim, there is a split in the circuits and in the case law. The only circuit court of appeals adopting a position inconsistent with holding in favor of Fredette is the Fifth Circuit. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., Inc., 83 F.3d 118 (5th Cir.1996); Garcia v. Elf Atochem North America, 28 F.3d 446 (5th Cir.1994). The legal principle which apparently emerges from Oncale and Garcia is that "all same-sex sexual harassment claims" are barred. Oncale, 83 F.3d at 120. However, it is difficult to accord much persuasive force to these two decisions. The Garcia holding was the last of several independent and alternative holdings and was accompanied by no reasoning whatsoever. Oncale also provided no rationale to support the holding; rather, it limited its discussion to the reach of the cryptic Garcia opinion, specifically whether the relevant language in Garcia was dicta or binding precedent. The Oncale panel, recognizing the fact that indications in other circuit court opinions and many district court opinions were to the contrary, emphasized that it was bound by Garcia. Moreover, it seems from the statement of the facts in Garcia that the harassing conduct at issue there was similar in nature to that in McWilliams, i.e., teasing and harassment with sexually-focused speech or conduct, but not involving a male superior's solicitation of sexual favors from a male subordinate on condition of work benefits or detriment. In other words, the Fifth Circuit
Many cases rejecting same-sex harassment claims rely upon Goluszek v. H.P. Smith, 697 F.Supp. 1452 (N.D.Ill.1988), this category possibly including the Fifth Circuit case law.
We readily conclude that the Goluszek rationale is flawed.
Id. at 634, 107 S.Ct. at 1453. However, we find no suggestion either in Johnson or in the other case law that such plaintiffs cannot state a viable Title VII claim simply because they work in an environment dominated by members of their own gender.
In summary, we conclude that the plain language of Title VII provides protection against the conduct at issue here where a homosexual male superior has solicited sexual favors from a male subordinate and conditioned work benefits or detriment on receiving such favors. We find nothing to the contrary in the legislative history. Our holding is in accord with the interpretation of the EEOC, and is in accord with the weight of the case law and the better-reasoned cases.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is reversed with respect to both the claim of quid pro quo sexual harassment and the claim for hostile environment sexual harassment. The case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
REVERSED and REMANDED.