Assignment - Critical Thinking: Case Analysis: Employment Discrimination
Read the following fact pattern and assess whether the plaintiff, Anna, has a claim for employment discrimination.
Assess whether Anna has a valid claim under Title VII. Include any key provisions that may apply. Compare and contrast valid case law as it relates to Anna's situation. Do you think she will prevail in her cause of action? What other causes of action may she have?
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The present case is a valid example within the context of employment discrimination, in which the plaintiff (Anna) claims that her supervisor, Michael (defendant) is responsible for violating the company's policies, thereby creating a hostile condition. Furthermore, such situation was re-sponsible for poor interpersonal relationship as well as integrity among the co-workers and ulti-mately results into failure in evaluation for the promotion. On the other hand, the employability and proficiency of plaintiff was proved in evaluation schemes for which skills and experience was accessed; which results into two promotions during the past.
According to the Title VII, which comes under the scope of Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the claim made by plaintiff is valid (Berg, 1964). This claim is covered within a broad clause related to the unlawful practices of employment, and is responsible for sexual harassment. In brief, this refers to generation of condition called as, "hostile work environment" developed under the Title VII.
The key provisions that are relevant to the present case context include following unlawful em-ployment practices in conjunction to an employer (Walsh, 2009):
- Refusing or failing in relation to hiring or to discharging any employee; as well as in context of discriminating any employee in conjunction to the compensation, conditions, terms of agreement for employment, or privileges or opportunities for employment, on the basis of the ethnic diversity such as race, religion, national origin, colour, and sex. Or, it shall be relevant if;
- Segregating, limiting, or classifying their employees or application candidates for the em-ployment, in any form that might lead to deprivation or have possibility to deprive any indi-vidual from the opportunities of employment; or might affect adversely about the status of employee; on the basis of the ethnic diversity such as race, religion, national origin, colour, and sex.
The following terms are detailed with reference to the Title VII, under the scope of Civil Rights Acts of 1964; in the Section 2000e-2, paragraph A, as cited in the reference from Colorado State University-Global Campus (page 5, 2014). This reference suggests that "Employment discrimi-nation" can be proven with reference to the disparate impact on any of the protected classifica-tion as mentioned above, or with respect to the disparate treatment to the protected classification; or with reference to claim of harassment based on the classifications mentioned. Likewise, the "hostile work environment" is also defined as the practices or conduct which have potential to create any type of abusive working environment for employees of the protected classes.
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Notably, an argument can be made with reference to distinction between "rumours" and "gossip" according to Nicholas 2008. "Rumours" are unconfirmed proposition related to speculation of sexual exploits or predilections. "Gossip" on the other hand refers to the trivial communication in relation to the personal qualities, private orientation. However, in the present case, plaintiff claim that upon request, defendant was unwilling to take any necessary action for correcting the rumours and helping in managing a normal interpersonal relationship of plaintiff with co-workers. Hence, such cases will be referred to as gender-based insults according to the guidelines related to Sexual Harassment Charges EEOC & FEPAs combined: 1992-1996. A comparable reference of gender-based animus sexual harassment behaviour can also be learned from US court of appeals, 4th Circuit, Ocheltree vs. Scollon Products Inc. (2002).
Concerning the matter, if plaintiff can prevail the action, there exists minimal evidence that sug-gests the coworkers participating in conduct of offensive rumours were attempted to bother her mainly because of her gender. In the claim, it was argued that the hostile work environment was created by the defendant which leads to poor interpersonal relationship at workplace and results into loosing of opportunity to get promotion. In regard to the claim, it can be notified that plain-tiff was harassed not because of her gender, but because she was offended due to working at a workplace surrounded by various types of rumours, especially sexual remarks. This conclusion falls in accordance to the case example of Hopkins vs Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co., 4th Circuit (1996), in which the Title VII was not proved as the discrimination was not only the basis of em-ployee' sexual orientation, behaviour, or vulnerability. Similarly, according to Rogers vs. EEOC CA5 (1971) and cert. Denied US 957 (1972), the work environment contain rumours that destroy the emotional and psychological stability of employee working in the group; however, the har-assment boundary is not qualified for actionable.
Furthermore, there also exists a sense in which both the plaintiff and defendant were exposed to same environment, which include rumours and reflection of sexual harassment. On the other hand, the claims are strengthen because of following evidences, which aligns the the
- Plaintiff attempts to made clear communication with coworkers as well as defendant about unwelcome rumours that affect her performance and interpersonal relationship.
- The hostile working environment rests into negative employment opportunity which deprives plaintiff to achieve promotion.
With reference to case, Burlington Industries Inc. vs Ellerth US 742 (1998):
- Defendant, have not reasonably tried to prevent or promptly rectify the harassing behaviour.
- Defendant unreasonably take advantage of the condition and did not attempt for any corrective opportunities provided by plaintiff.
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The defendant violates the company policies with two actions, viz. (i) continuous attempt to lend money from the plaintiff, and (ii) engagement into closed-room discussion, despite of the denial by plaintiff. This leads to creation of rumour among the co-workers developing the a hostile con-dition by damaging interpersonal relationship as well as by creating outcast image. The violations can be justified by the guidelines forwarded by US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with reference to Title VII (Berg, 1964). The claims of plaintiff are valid with reference to the discrimination based on sex, thereby creating abusive and hostile work environment. The burden of proof can be justified in accordance to the Meritor Savings Bank vs. Vinson, June 19, 1986; which suggests:
- Behaviours that are responsible for creating any hostile working environment.
- Behaviours which are unwelcome from the employer as well as the employee side.
- Behaviours that were severe and/ or are considered to be pervasive.
- Behaviours that were based on the gender of plaintiff.
Overall, it will be appropriate to state that the claims made by the plaintiff are not severe but are pervasive. This is in accordance with the case learnings from Meritor Savings Bank vs Vinson US 477 (1986). Other causes of action that she may have, or are not included in the case history, could include following steps. The plaintiff must collect evidence of the sexual comments, be-haviours of coworkers and the direct evidences that are results from the outcast situation at workplace affective the performativity. The violations of company policies such as (i) repeated request of money lending by supervisor; (ii) insisting for closed door discussion; and (iii) refusing to take corrective measures for preventing negative and adverse psychological impact at workplace; must be directly communicated to the HR department for necessary actions. In case, if the authority at organisation are not taking reasonable steps to eliminate the discrimination and rumours, the same can be used as evidence against the claim of hostile working condition created.
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