timer Asked: Nov 22nd, 2016

Question description

  1. The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) hired Nancy Drew Suders as a police communications operator for the McConnellsburg barracks. Suder’s supervisors were Sergeant Eric D. Easton, station commander at the McConnellsburg barracks, Patrol Corporal William D. Baker, and Corporal Eric B. Prendergast. Those three supervisors subjected Suders to a continuous barrage of sexual harassment that ceased only when she resigned from the force. Easton would bring up the subject of people having sex with animals each time Suders entered his office. He told Prendergast, in front of Suders, that young girls should be given instruction in how to gratify men with oral sex. Easton also would sit down near Suders, wearing Spandex shorts, and spread his legs apart. Baker repeatedly made obscene gestures in Suder’s presence and shouted our vulgar comments inviting sex. Baker made these gestures as many as five to ten times per night throughout Suder’s employment at the barracks. Further, Baker would rub his rear end in front of her and remark “I have a nice ass, don’t I”? Five months after being hired, Suders contacted Virginia Smith-Elliot, PSP’s equal opportunity officer, and stated that she was being harassed at work and was afraid. Smith-Elliot’s response appeared to Suders to be insensitive and unhelpful. Two days later, Suders resigned from the force. Suders sued PSP, alleging that she had been subject to sexual harassment and constructively discharged and forced to resign. Can an employer be held liable when the sexual harassment conduct of its employees is so severe that the victim of the harassment resigns? Why?
  2. Trans World Airlines (TWA), an airline, operated a large maintenance and overhaul base for its airplanes in Kansas City, Missouri. Because of its essential role, the stores department at the base operated 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The employees at the base were represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (Union). TWA and the Union entered into a collective bargaining agreement that included a seniority system for the assignment of jobs and shifts. TWA hired Larry Hardison to work as a clerk in the stores department. Soon after beginning work, Hardison joined the Worldwide Church of God, which does not allow its members to work from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday and on certain religious holidays. Hardison, who had the second-lowest seniority within the stores department, did not have enough seniority to observe his Sabbath regularly. When Hardison asked for special consideration, TWA offered to allow him to take his Sabbath off if he could switch shifts with another employee-union member. None of the other employees would do so. TWA refused Hardison’s request for a four-day work week because it would have to hire and train a part-time worker to work on Saturdays or incur the cost of paying overtime to an existing full-time worker on Saturdays. Hardison sued TWA for religious discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Do TWA’s actions violate Title VII? Why?
  3. Johnson Controls, Inc. (Johnson Controls), manufactures batteries. Lead is the primary ingredient in the manufacturing process. Exposure to lead entails health risks, including risk of harm to a fetus carried by a female employee. To protect unborn children from such risk, Johnson Controls adopted an employment rule that prevented pregnant women and women of childbearing age from working at jobs involving lead exposure. Only women who were sterilized or could prove they could not have children were not affected by the rule. Consequently, most female employees were relegated to lower-paying clerical jobs at the company. Several female employees filed a class action suit, challenging Johnson Controls’ fetal-protection policy as sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Johnson Controls defended, asserting that its fetal-protection policy was justified as a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). Is Johnson Controls’ fetal-protection policy a BFOQ, or does it constitute sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII? Why?
  4. Immar Medrano was employed as a journeyman electrician by Marshall Electrical Contracting, Inc. (MEC), in Marshall, Missouri. Medrano attended an electrician apprenticeship night class at a community college in Sedalia, Missouri. MEC paid Medrano’s tuition and book fees. Attendance at the course required Medrano to drive 70 miles roundtrip. One night, when Medrano was driving home from the class, a drunk driver crossed the centerline of U.S. Highway 65 and collided head-on with Medrano’s automobile. Medrano died in the accident. His wife and two children filed a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits against MEC. Are Medrano’s actions at the time of the automobile accident within the course and scope of his employment, thus entitling him to workers’ compensation benefits? Why?
  5. Devon Overstreet, who worked as a bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for more than six years, took sick leave for six weeks. Because she had been on sick leave for more than seven days, CTA required her to take a medical examination. The blood and urine analysis indicated the presence of cocaine. A second test confirmed this finding. The CTA suspended Overstreet and placed her in the employee assistance program for substance abuse for not less than thirty days, with a chance of reassignment to a non-operating job if she successfully completed the program. The program is an alternative to discharge and is available at the election of the employee. Overstreet filed for unemployment compensation benefits. CTA contested her claims. Who wins? Why?

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