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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

A pale effort

Common sense erupts in an Indiana courtroom:

SOUTH BEND — A lawsuit claiming that a male city firefighter was sexually harassed by another male firefighter has been dismissed in federal court.

[. . .]

In order to show the sexual harassment had taken place, Nuechterlein wrote, Banacki would have to show how the other firefighter's conduct created a hostile work environment.

"In light of the admittedly bawdy humor and practical jokes that Banacki and other firefighters at Station 6 engaged in," Nuechterlein wrote, "it is hard to accept Banacki's claim that he found the particular incident directed at him to be so beyond the pale of accepted conduct that the incident changed the conditions of his work environment, or that he actually found it offensive."

"Local conditions may vary," in other words. The "work environment" is not some mystical ideal with ironclad rules that can't be violated. It's created by the people who work there, and one of the people who helped create it shows bad form when he runs to the courts with a "Mommy, he hit he harder!" whine. Hooray for Judge Nuechterlein.