Barnes v. Train

Barnes v. Train (1974) is commonly viewed as the first sexual harassment case in America, even though the term "sexual harassment" was not used. The case involved Paulette Barnes, a payroll clerk who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. Barnes brought the case after losing her job for refusing the advances of a male supervisor.[1] The case was initially dismissed, but won on appeal in Barnes v. Costle (1977).[2] During Barnes v Costle, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the original findings and ruled it was sex discrimination for a woman to suffer tangible employment losses (for example losing her job) for refusing to submit to requests for sexual favors. The appeals ruling was based in part on the Williams v. Saxbe (1976) decision by a U.S. District Court which ruled that quid pro quo sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[3] Barnes also found that companies are liable for not stopping sexual harassment if they know it is being conducted by supervisors.[3] As a result of Barnes v. Costle, Barnes received about $18,000 for back pay and the loss of promotions.[4]


  1. ^ Peirce, Michelle Ridgeway (1989). "Sexual Harassment and Title VII: A Better Solution". Boston College Law Review. 30 (4, 4): 1071.
  2. ^ "Paulette L. Barnes, Appellant, v. Douglas M. Costle, Administrator of the Environmentalprotection Agency, 561 F.2d 983 (D.C. Cir. 1977)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  3. ^ a b Hoff, Joan (1994-04-01). Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women. NYU Press. pp. 431–432. ISBN 9780814744864.
  4. ^ "History of Sexual Harassment Laws in the United States". Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2018-08-09.