you-decide-virginia-pollard-worked-as-a-cashier-and-clerk-for-teddys

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You Decide

Virginia Pollard worked
as a cashier and clerk for Teddy’s Supplies, a family-owned chain of film
production equipment supply stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. During a
routine performance evaluation, Virginia’s supervisor at Teddy’s complained
that she made too many personal phone calls when she worked in the West Orange
store. The supervisor noted this on Virginia’s annual review, and warned her to
keep personal calls to a bare minimum while at work. Soon thereafter, Teddy
transferred Pollard to guard film equipment in the main warehouse behind the
storefront; Virginia couldn’t make personal calls there, and her work became
exemplary. Her performance evaluation three months after her transfer was
“meeting expectations” with no negative comments.

Virginia
Pollard was the only woman working in the warehouse, and she was often the
victim of pranks perpetrated by her six male colleagues. Her co-workers taped
her drawers shut, locked her out of the guard shack she sat in to watch the
inventory, filled the guard shack with trash, and backed a forklift up to the
door and made it backfire in her ear. One day a Teddy delivery driver sat in
Pollard’s chair and, when she tried to push him out of it, he bent her over his
lap and spanked her. Pollard’s new supervisor, Steve King, rarely enforced
Teddy’s rules against smoking, horseplay, foul language, and sexual harassment,
and often indulged in such behaviors himself. Teddy’s had a written sexual
harassment policy which included a method for employees to report sexual
harassment – the method included filing a complaint with the direct supervisor
unless the direct supervisor was the perpetrator. In that event, the employee
was to file the complaint online at.equella.ecollege.com/file/bc55cab5-e2e1-4524-9ce0-91832c11eccc/35/documents–teddy.htm”>www.ReportTeddysafely.com. The form for reporting was a one page document. A copy of the
policy which Virginia Pollard signed is.equella.ecollege.com/file/bc55cab5-e2e1-4524-9ce0-91832c11eccc/35/documents–virginiaspolicy.htm”>located here.
The policy specifically states, “In the event of a violation of this
policy, employees should report the violation to their direct supervisor, unless
doing so would put the employee at risk of further discrimination or
harassment. In that case, the employee should report using the company website
form which will submit the incident to Human Resources.”

Pollard
never filed a complaint with Steve King, her supervisor; she also did not file
a complaint at the website, although she claimed she told King in July 2008
that she felt she was being “picked on” by the guys she worked with.
She claims Steve King told her to “grow some balls” and to “get
over herself.” She testified during the NJ Human Rights Commission hearing
that she tried to file an anonymous complaint but the website wasn’t working
the day she tried to do so.

In
August of 2008, King and the other warehouse workers put a sign on a truck that
read “HARDHAT REQUIRED/BRA OPTIONAL.” King and another employee
called Pollard over to look at the sign and encouraged her to do as it said.
She refused and tried to walk away. King promised not to report her to
management, whereupon she lifted one side of her shirt in the back and exposed
part of her bra on her backside. Upper management learned of the incident that
October by a co-worker who filed an anonymous complaint online. After a brief
investigation, Pollard was fired for exposing her bra. None of the men were
disciplined. A man replaced Pollard in the guard shack.

That
November, Pollard filed a charge of sex discrimination with the New Jersey
Commission on Human Rights. The Commission found that Pollard had been the
victim of sex discrimination and that Teddy’s reasons for firing her were
pretext, and awarded her back wages and damages. Teddy’s appealed to the
circuit court, including in their case that Pollard had committed several
infractions, including participating in the spanking incident. They reported
that Pollard had failed to report any sexual harassment and included a copy of
their sexual harassment policy as part of their defense case. The Circuit Court
found that Teddy did have good reason to discipline Pollard but that firing her
was in fact disparate treatment when compared with the utter lack of discipline
given to King. The circuit court reversed the Commission’s award of damages
because it believed that Teddy had been right to discipline Pollard, but they
ordered Teddy’s to reinstate Pollard to her old position. Pollard appealed to
the New Jersey Court of Appeals and refused to accept her job back.

Role

You
are an independent Human Resources Consultant that was hired by Teddy’s
Supplies to consult on this case during the appeal.

Players

Questions

Read these questions.
Open a new Word document, and write your answers in essay format. Include your
name in the initial memo heading for Question 1 (as the submitter).

Q1. Write a memo to the
Teddy’s Supplies CEO advising him of the following:

  1. The case facts
  2. The decisions/proceedings to date
  3. The company’s potential for liability, and under what
    laws.
  4. The worst-case damages that could be imposed. (40
    points)

Q2. How does Title VII
apply to this fact scenario? (5 points)

Q3. Research and support
your answer with twoappellate level (including Supreme Court) U.S. cases that discuss
sexual harassment and Title VII, and pertain to this case. Provide the case
names, citations, facts, and decisions of those cases. (25 points each case)

Q4. Review Teddy’s
sexual harassment policy that Virginia Pollard signed. Virginia tried to make
an anonymous complaint, but the website was down that day. During the Human
Rights Commission case, a review of the website statistics showed that Virginia
accessed the website for downloading dental coverage forms at least three times
during the time-frame of the alleged discrimination, but did not try to access
the complaint area. The commission determined that Teddy’s ability to track
employees’ website use violated privacy rights, and refused to consider this
information. Provide three recommendations to the CEO for a way to ensure
that future employees cannot claim “technical issues” for not filing
a complaint. Explain, in your recommendations, the legal consequences to
an employee if they do not utilize the complaint mechanism of the sexual
harassment policy. Support these recommendations with current case law. (20
points)

Q5. Would Pollard’s case
be affected if her replacement was female? If so, how? If not, why not?
Explain. (10 points)

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