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Amicus · Victory · Final Disposition on December 31, 2001

Muzzy v. Cahillane Motors, Inc.

GLAD was instrumental in winning a decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that personal information about a plaintiff, such as sexual orientation, may not be introduced in court for the purpose of perpetuating negative stereotypes or inflaming the prejudice of the jury.

GLAD filed an amicus brief in a case involving a sex harassment claim brought by a lesbian plaintiff against her lesbian supervisor.  The case went to trial in order to determine whether the supervisor sexually harassed the plaintiff, and the plaintiff lost.  The case was appealed in part on the grounds that the instruction to the jury to consider whether the allegedly harassing conduct would be offensive to a “reasonable lesbian” was prejudicial.

GLAD filed a brief articulating a test that would allow trial courts to provide personal information about a plaintiff, such as sexual orientation, but only if it is for the purpose of ensuring that juries consider the experience of harassment of minorities.  GLAD argued that such information may not be used for the purpose of perpetuating negative stereotypes or inflaming the prejudice of the jury. Therefore, such information ordinarily should not be admitted over the objection of plaintiffs.  The Supreme Judicial Court articulated a test that incorporated the analysis set forth in GLAD’s brief.