Repeated Viewing Of Private Intimate Video Is Sexual Harassment

Melinda Abbt was a firefighter with the Houston Fire Department. From 2006 until 2009, she was assigned to Station 18, where her supervisor was Captain Chris Bar­rientes. Station 18 was overseen by District Chief David Elliott, who also had purview over three or four other stations. In 2008, Barrientes received an anonymous email containing an in­timate, nude video of Abbt that she had made privately for her husband and…

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Accidentally Sent Text Message Not Basis For Lawsuit

Danielle Alston, a former Sergeant with the Philadelphia Police Department, sued her immediate superior, Lieutenant Brian Dougherty, and the City of Philadelphia, alleging gender-based hostile-environment because of a sexually offensive text message Dougherty sent Alston. When Alston’s claims were dismissed by a trial court, she appealed to the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court upheld the dismissal of Alston’s lawsuits. The Court began with the proposition that…

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The Elements Of A Hostile Work Environment Claim

Brandon Bates, an African Ameri­can man, has held multiple positions in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. Bates eventu­ally reached, and currently maintains, the position of Captain. Throughout his employment, Paul Carbo, a white male, was his supervisor. Bates sued the County and various County employees, alleging he suf­fered discrimination throughout his tenure at the facility. Bates separated the incidents into two distinct time periods, pre- and post-…

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‘Associational’ Hostile Work Environments Under Title VII

Jeffrey Kengerski was a captain at the Allegheny County Jail in Pennsylvania. In April 2015, Kengerski submitted a written complaint to Orlando Harper, Warden of the Allegheny County Jail. This com­plaint was against Robyn McCall, a white female employee at the jail who had been promoted to Major in December 2014. In his complaint, Kengerski detailed an event from over a year before where he was discussing his grand-niece…

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Challenges To The ‘Public Policy’ Doctrine In Illinois

Parties to contracts such as labor agreements can choose to substitute arbitration for a court resolution of contractual disputes. With two notable exceptions, final and binding arbitration of grievances is just that: final and binding. As the Supreme Court held in United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960), a court should not disturb a labor arbitrator’s decision unless the decision does not…

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Deputy Wins $885k In Disability, Hostile Work Environment Case

Joseph Iko, who has been diagnosed with Type I diabetes since he was six years old, worked for the Sheriff’s Department in Middlesex County, New Jersey. In 2004, Iko underwent a pancreas transplant because of his diabetes. When Iko returned to work after the transplant, his high-level supervisors and coworkers began harassing him by regularly calling him names such as “Half-Dead,” “Mr. Magoo,” “Stevie Wonder,” “Jerry’s Kids,” “Chinaman,” and…

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Statements Made By Drunk Arrestee Can’t Be Basis For Hostile Work Environment Claim

Mark Johnstone, who is white, has been an officer for the Village of Monticello Police Department in New York since 1989 and a lieutenant since 2010. On November 16, 2013, he arrested Gordon Jenkins, described as “a dark skinned natural person,” for driving while intoxicated. While Johnstone was processing Jenkins at the Monticello Police Station, Jenkins called Johnstone and other white officers a “racist,” a “cracker,” a “white mother…

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Employer Has Right To Investigate Threats Made At Firefighters’ Union Meeting

In September 2014, a Hoboken, New Jersey fire captain filed a complaint with the Fire Chief. He alleged that, at two union meetings, two other fire captains harassed him and subjected him to a hostile work environment. The employer investigated the captain’s complaint. It ordered bargaining unit members who were present at the union meetings to submit written reports about the alleged threats. Local 1076 of the International Association…

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‘Bitch’ Comments Do Not Establish Hostile Work Environment

One area of employment law that has dramatically changed is that of sexual harassment. Owing largely to a series of Supreme Court decisions, what once might be easily accepted as sexually harassing conduct now no longer supports a lawsuit. And so it was with the case of Barbara Davis, a police officer with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Davis brought a sexual harassment lawsuit, and pointed to the conduct…

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