REVIEW & ANALYSIS
SUMMARIES WITH TRIAL ANALYSIS
Defendant's Verdict – Plaintiff claims wrongful termination in retaliation for filing of sexual harassment grievance – Defendant presents evidence of performance problems and reprimands.
Volume 16, Issue 7
A monthly review of New England State and Federal Civil Jury Verdicts with professional analysis and commentary.
The New England cases summarized in detail herein are obtained from an ongoing monthly survey of the State and Federal Courts in New England.
DEFENDANT'S VERDICT – PLAINTIFF CLAIMS WRONGFUL TERMINATION IN RETALIATION FOR FILING OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT GRIEVANCE – DEFENDANT PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS AND REPRIMANDS.
Suffolk County, Massachusetts
In this case, the plaintiff gasoline deliveryman sought damages in connection with his termination, claiming retaliation in connection with his previous filing of a sexual harassment grievance. On the defamation count the plaintiff had contended that the defendant did not properly investigate the issue of falsification of his time card, thereby damaging his reputation. The defamation count was dismissed on the defendant's summary judgment motion and case proceeded to the jury on the retaliation count only.
The underlying complaint for sexual harassment arose from a training seminar the plaintiff had attended at which he allegedly overheard vulgar language between two truck drivers. However, none of the comments were directed at the plaintiff, either directly or indirectly. Nonetheless, the defendant employer issued a statement of apology to the plaintiff. The plaintiff was terminated approximately seven months later for falsification of a time card. The plaintiff claimed that the termination was in retaliation for his previous filing of the sexual harassment grievance.
The defendant presented evidence that prior to his termination, the plaintiff had been suspended for a driving violation. The defendant also asserted that the plaintiff was not performing his job properly. Specifically, the defendant offered evidence that the plaintiff made a number of late deliveries, missed certain deliveries, was rude to some customers and pumped gasoline into the wrong underground tank. Some of these incidents resulted in the plaintiff receiving disciplinary sanctions. The defendant claimed that based upon the plaintiffs work record, he was justifiably terminated. Moreover, the defendant contended, that its handling of the plaintiff's time card falsification was done in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
The jury found in favor of the defendant.
Crosby vs. Chenard, et al. Case no. withheld;
Judge Sikora, 9-8-00.
Attorney for defendant: David S. Katz of Seegel Lipshutz & Wilcins. P.C. in Wellesley. MA.
The Court instructed the jury that they were required to find for the defendant unless the Jury concluded that the plaintiff's filing of a sexual harassment complaint was the determinative factor in his termination. In light of the ample performance issues raised by the plaintiff's work record, it is not surprising that the jury found for the defendant. Moreover, the plaintiff's credibility may have been called into question based upon the alleged sexual harassment experienced by the plaintiff at the seminar since the evidence clearly showed that none of the offensive statements were directed at the plaintiff.