The Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that a woman could not legitimately claim sexual harassment, in part because there was no proof the alleged female aggressor is a lesbian, Slate reports.

Catherine Clark, a former gym teacher, filed a discrimination and retaliation suit alleging same-sex harassment and bullying by Annie Monterrubio and other female coaches at a San Antonio middle school.

In complaints made to the court and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Clark claimed Monterrubio regularly commented on Clark’s breasts, buttocks, and other body parts. She also allegedly groped Clark during a group photo.

Clark also claimed Monterrubio frequently used vulgar and sexually explicit language in the workplace. After Monterrubio got a candle from Clark during a holiday gift exchange, she allegedly told Clark she was “going to make love next to the candle,” adding, “I will think of you next time I am fucking.” She also reportedly told Clark to close her legs after a student mentioned smelling shrimp.

Six of the eight Texas justices found that Clark, who claimed her school district violated state civil-rights law by allowing a hostile work environment, had not been discriminated against based on her gender.

Because Monterrubio also harassed the male coaches, the Alamo Heights Independent School District successfully argued that Monterrubio’s harassment of Clark did not constitute sexual discrimination.

In other words, when Monterrubio shared explicit sexual anecdotes, passed around photos of naked men, or forwarded vulgar emails, she presumably made both her male and female colleagues feel uncomfortable.

Getty Images

“Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination and, as such, requires proof that the alleged mistreatment was ’because of’ the employee’s gender,” the opinion reads.

“Anti-discrimination laws—in their current incarnation—do not guarantee a pleasant working environment devoid of profanity, off-color jokes, teasing, or even bullying. In this case, the record—viewed as favorably as the legal-sufficiency standard allows—bears no evidence that the inappropriate conduct alleged here was gender motivated.”

The Texas Supreme Court assessed Monterrubio’s behavior through the lens of Oncale v.
 Sundowner, a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision that “a man’s claims of man-on-man sexual harassment were just as actionable under federal nondiscrimination law as those of opposite-sex harassment.”

Oncale requires evidence of homosexuality to be ‘credible,’” the opinion reads, neglecting to note that the 1998 decision also maintained that “harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire to support an inference of discrimination on the basis of sex.”

The Texas Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Clark’s claims made under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, effectively reversing the court of appeals’ previous judgment.

Slate writes that by using an argument based on sexual orientation to excuse sexual misconduct, the Texas justices “are envisioning a justice system wherein a bisexual woman could potentially be legally exempt from all gender-discrimination complaints because she is attracted to both genders; a gay man could touch a woman’s genitals with impunity because he usually likes men; or an asexual man could be excused from all harassment claims because he has no sexual desire for people of any gender.”

“Calling sexual orientation the last word on desire misrepresents both the power-driven nature of sexual harassment and the nature of desire itself.”

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.

@brandonvoss