Archive for the ‘Rulings by Courts’ Category
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
In January, we detailed the case of Melissa Nelson, a long-time worker in the dental office of James Knight, DDS. After Knight turned 50, Nelson said he became lewd. Knight’s wife and pastor told him to fire Nelson because of the temptation her attractiveness caused for Knight. He followed the advice.
Nelson sued, not for sexual harassment, but for gender discrimination. The dentist was supported by the courts, both trial and appeals, by granting summary judgement in his favor. They threw the case out. In the July 12, 2013 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, they made it clear that since sexual favoritism need not be based on illegal forms of discrimination, neither should unfavorability (page 8 in the Court’s decision). The Supreme Court affirmed the prior appeals court decision. Knight was allowed to legally terminate her on the basis of her beauty as he perceived it!
Tags: dentist, gender discrimination, Iowa, irresistibly attractive, James Knight, Melissa Nelson, sexual harassment
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Rulings by Courts | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Sunday, July 14th, 2013
Key lessons from Zimmerman murder trial acquittal for advocates for legal solutions to the workplace bullying crisis in the U.S.
Again, a jury’s decision crushes hope for African-American youth. Read the NAACP statement about the jury decision. The “system” seems to not care even when they are killed for committing no crime. Zimmerman literally got away with committing murder. Watch Sen. Harry Reid, a former trial attorney, on Meet the Press state simply that he supports the “system” (advance to the 12:00 min. mark).
White supremacists will overtly rejoice; those harboring implicit stereotypes (explanations for discriminatory behavior when holders of stereotype never utter racial slurs aloud and may not have insight into how that stereotyping accounts for their own behavior) will refuse to acknowledge the moral dilemma such trial outcomes have on society.
We don’t know yet if the jury members wrestled with their consciences over the “stand your ground” law in Florida state or the fact that hotheaded, self-proclaimed crusader Zimmerman was legally carrying a gun that provided the overwhelming leverage over the unarmed teenager. The legal bases of the trial were not supposed to test the defendant’s racism. The judge disallowed that factor from entering the case. Any hope of changing Florida’s “stand your ground” law was squashed by the governor.
The jury of Floridians upheld the validity of both state laws put in place by the powerful gun lobby and the anti-democratic group, ALEC, that hands out the boilerplate bills on all issues that serve to reverse social progress in America.
The decision honored the laws (that’s what courts are supposed to do) while dishonoring Trayvon Martin’s humanity extinguished needlessly by Zimmerman. In the not-so-distant background were the Newtown Connecticut parents whose children were slain by automatic weapons. Survivors of gun victims are expected to grieve and just “get on with their lives,” and not to hope the loss of their loved ones will lead to any changes in our violent society.
Too few court decisions step outside the lines to make a social policy statement for the good of the human race. I had hoped the glare of the national spotlight with saturation coverage on TV would prod those six women to step up and do the right thing. Instead, the narrowness of court trials in the U.S. prevailed. The jury was not necessarily wrong. It certainly was not brave. Eliott Spitzer, former NY Attorney General and Governor, on ABC This Week, stated clearly “this was a failure of justice” (advance to the :30 sec. mark).
Tags: courts, Gary Namie, George Zimmerman, Healthy Workplace Bill, NAACP, Trayvon Martin, workplace bullying
Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Rulings by Courts, Workplace Bullying Laws | 3 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is done for the year. Decisions have been rendered. The court gutted the civil rights movement by neutering the Voting Rights Act (Shame on them!) . The court granted LGBT proponents unprecedented rights (Yea!). Two decisions regarding employment law clearly sided with employers and once again stuck it to working men and women.
Case #1: Retaliation Changed to Suit Employer Defendants
In the Univ of Texas v. Nassar (No 12-484), SCOTUS (in a 5-4 vote on June 24, 2013) limits retaliation claims to situations in which the plaintiff can show that the the only employer motivating factor is the desire to retaliate. Justice Kennedy opined that there are two standards — lessened causation and but-for. In cases where the practice of retaliation was motivated by several factors, one of which was race, color, religion, sex or national origin, lessened causation applies. In reality, many factors do apply. The Court called these “mixed-motive” cases.
In this case, a woman supervisor at the University of Texas Medical School, Beth Levine, MD (pictured on the left), harassed Naiel Nassar, MD, a physician of Middle Eastern descent. Nassar was working at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and was an Associate Professor at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 2004, he inherited a new department head, Levine, known to comment “MiddleEasterners are lazy.” He was promised a post at the hospital even after he resigned his academic job. Nassar’s resignation letter cited Levine’s harassment as the reason. A Dr. Fitz who received the Nassar resignation letter felt he had to defend and exonerate his colleague Levine. Fitz convinced the hospital to withdraw its job offer to Nassar. Nassar filed two claims — discrimination by Levine and retaliation by the University that cost him his hospital position.
The five conservative justices actually stated that the lessening causation standard “could contribute to the filing of frivolous claims.” The opinion cites EEOC statistics about the “nearly doubled” frequency of retaliation claims in the past 15 years. They equate retaliation claims with baseless claims. They seem motivated, on behalf of corporations against which these retaliation claims are filed, to reduce those numbers that bother corporate defendants.
Tags: antidiscrimination laws, Ball State, discrimination, dissenting opinion, employer responsibility, Justice Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nassar, retaliation, supervisor defined, Title VII, University of Texas, US Supreme Court, Vance, vicarious liability
Posted in Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Rulings by Courts, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, February 18th, 2013
Outrageous By Any Other Name
Bullied targets are not believed. Sometimes the disbelief is rooted in the outrageousness of perpetrators and the innovative cruelty they inflict on targets. It’s hard to believe people can be so vicious.
There are three principal groups who deny bullying as it actually happens. Each group of disbelievers is discussed in separate audio tracks to make WBI Podcast 32.
Listen to all three parts in one clip:
Or in separate sections:
1. U.S. biz school researchers who cite “victim precipitation” as a cause
2. Employers — executives and HR
3. U.S. courts who make proving that the bullying was outrageous nearly impossible
Tags: Gary Namie, HR, intentional infliction of emotional distress, outrageous conduct, targets not believed, victim precipitation, WBI podast
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Podcasts, Rulings by Courts, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
Don’t ever lose your ability to be shocked by injustice. That’s what employers want us to do. Here’s a shocking tale.
Melissa Nelson, a 32-year old mother and happily married wife, was a dental assistant for 10 years for a Fort Dodge, Iowa dentist named James Knight. Knight had been her family dentist. A Nelson acquaintance worked in his office. She felt close to his wife and family, too. Knight is older than Nelson. It was an amicable midwest workplace for years.
Nelson said that Knight became lewd when he turned 50. He found her “irresistibly attractive.” He sleazily commented that if she (Nelson) saw his pants “bulging,” she would know her clothing was too revealing and he objected that he was able to tell during work hours that she had breasts. Remember, this was an educated health professional! Knight learned cell phone texting and began sexting to Nelson, asking how often she had orgasms. Nelson never encouraged or invited Knight’s advances. Knight told his pastor and wife that he had “feelings and emotions” for Nelson. Both told him to fire Nelson, the woman Knight considered his best-ever assistant. The wobbly Knight made termination a religious affair. He invited another pastor from his church to attend the Jan. 4, 2010 meeting with Nelson where they ambushed and fired her.
Tags: Iowa Supreme Court, James Knight, Melissa Nelson, sexual harassment, workplace bullying
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Rulings by Courts, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
As bullied targets learn quickly, civil rights laws rarely apply in bullying situations. The magic combination of a target being a member of a protected class and the bully not being a member happens in only 1 in 5 cases. With all other combinations the target must overcome legal obstacles too great for most attorneys to tackle.
On Nov. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in the case brought by a black woman Maetta Vance against Ball State University. The case is not about whether or not she suffered racial discrimination at the hands of Saundra Davis, a white woman, but whether Davis was her supervisor.
The University is not liable for Davis’ conduct if the court deems Davis a coworker. Vance contends that Davis acted as her supervisor. That’s the crux of the case. The final decision affects the liability of employers in harassment cases and could make it even tougher to sue employers for one of their employee’s wrongdoing.
Tags: Ball State University, employer liability, harassment, Maetta Vance, status-protected group, supervisor definition, vicarious liability
Posted in Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Rulings by Courts, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Sunday, August 12th, 2012
In December 2009 CEO Ryan Smith of Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna Alaska brought us in to implement our comprehensive program to prevent and correct workplace bullying. One year prior, there had been an on-site gunslinging event that claimed two lives, the shooter, fired employee Joseph Marchetti, and one of his victims. Others were paralyzed and wounded.
Trouble had been brewing beforehand. There is nearly always a story behind the headline-grabbing “shooter as mental nut” cover story (the theme of the documentary Murder By Proxy). A VP of the nurses union, Ray Southwell, had briefed his fellow union members and the CPH Board that “the environment is ripe for another shooting.” He spoke regularly of bullying of nurses. Smith hated Southwell. Eventually, Smith, who had been brought in to “clean up” certain departments fired Southwell.
Tags: Alaska, Alaska Nurses Association, Central Peninsula Hospital, healthcare bullying, Lore Weimer, NLRB, nurses, Ray Southwell, Ryan Smith, Soldotna, William G Kocol
Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Rulings by Courts, Tutorials About Bullying, Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
For decades, the NLRB has been under republican control and served employers’ needs to look the other way as union organizers are indiscriminately fired for doing what should be protected by law. On Jan. 9, 2012, President Obama made a recess appointment of Richard Griffin, a long-time union attorney, to the Board. Griffin joined Sharon Block, winner of the JFK Labor Law Award, and Chairman Mark Pearce whose prior legal experience was with labor. In May, disgraced republican member Terence Flynn resigned after two Inspector General reports concluded that he had leaked information about NLRB deliberations prior to decisions to Mitt Romney’s adviser. There are now 3 democrats and one republican, Brian Hayes, on the Board.
Now come two recent decisions that make employers and HR livid.
Tags: confidential investigations, HR, Mark Pearce, NLRA Section 7, NLRB, Richard Griffin, Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, union organizing
Posted in Rulings by Courts, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
We marvel at the positive results of two California County Grand Juries — Ventura County in 2011 and Riverside in 2012. Thanks to their independence from County administrative and management teams and a rule that enables them to conduct investigations into about anything that interests them, the Grand Jury provides help to bullied targets among County employees. HR is either unable or unwilling to conduct credible investigations of workplace bullying until there are laws compelling strict policies or as long as handmaidens to County executives.
Grand Juries, on the other hand, are citizens likely to be outraged when they learn about the dirty dealings happening in secret and deliberately silenced by those with political connections.
The county workers union (SEIU local 721) led the charge with the Ventura GJ. A bold group of 7 employees were instrumental in getting the Riverside GJ to investigate and to admonish the HR management for fostering abuse within its ranks.
So, with or without the help of a union, we suggest researching whether your county’s grand jury allows citizen complaints about misconduct/bullying by county management and if it can then conduct its own independent investigation. Ventura and Riverside Grand Juries have led the way. Try this at home. Good luck.
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
For the second known time, a California County Grand Jury has investigated and confirmed workplace bullying following multiple employee complaints. On June 15, 2012 the Riverside County Grand Jury (CJ) released its report. The culprit employer was the County Human Resources Department.
[On May 24, 2011 the Ventura County Grand Jury issued a similar report about workplace bullying there.]
Sworn testimony from 7 workers about abuses in the Riverside County HR department prompted GJ action. The complaints spoke of workplace bullying. Specifically problems were identified in the program tasked with hiring temp workers and medical temps (TAP/MAP).
The GJ conducted its own investigation from Nov. 2011 through May 2012. It included interviews with 23 past and present employees and supervisors, more than 50 phone conversations, time sheets, emails, documents and personnel records. The GJ also made an unscheduled visit to the program work site. [A much more comprehensive process than ever done by HR when “investigating” bullying charges within the organization.]