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In this column, I’ll situate a recent opinion from the Connecticut Supreme Court, Patino v. Birken Manufacturing Co., in which the court recognized a cause of action for sexual-orientation harassment, against the backdrop of the national legal landscape. Connecticut, like almost two dozen other states, has enacted a law prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Until this case, however, it was not clear whether the law included a cause of action for sexual orientation harassment. This case, however, makes clear that, in Connecticut, gay and lesbian workers are protected against the full panoply of discrimination harms, and that employers can be held liable for failing to protect them against co-worker harassment.



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