I. Summary of the Case The case involved Mechelle Vinson, respondent, who brought an action against Sidney Taylor, a vice president and branch manager of Meritor Savings Bank, and the bank. She claimed that during her four years at the bank, she had been constantly subjected to sexual harassment by Taylor in violation of Title VII. She testified to over 40 instances of sexual favors successfully sought by Taylor from 1974 to 1977. Yet, these activities ceased after she started going with a steady boyfriend. However, Taylor denied the allegations of sexual activity.
He contended instead that respondent made her accusations in response to a business related dispute. Additionally, the bank also denied the respondent’s allegations and asserted that any sexual harassment by Taylor was unknown to the bank and engaged in without its consent or approval. Although, the district court denied relief, finding in part: If Ms. Vinson and Taylor did engage in an intimate or sexual relationship during the time of her employment with the bank, that relationship was a voluntary one having nothing to do with her continued employment and her advancement or promotions at that institution.
But the court of appeals reversed the district court. The Supreme Court granted certiorari (Twomey, p428). Certiorari is an appellate proceeding for reexamination of an action or judgment of a lower court. It usually requires the lower court to certify and return its records to the reviewing court (Twomey; p 770). II. Case Question 1 Is the fact that the sex-related conduct by an employee and her supervisor was “voluntary” a defense to a sexual harassment charge?
According to the article, while “voluntaries” in the sense of consent is not a defense to such a claim, it does not follow that a complainant’s sexually provocative speech or dress is irrelevant as a matter of law in determining whether he or she found particular sexual advances unwelcome. The correct inquiry is whether respondent by His or her conduct indicated that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome, not whether her actual participation in sexual intercourse was voluntary (Twomey.
P429). III. Case Question 2 Was it proper for a trial court to consider evidence of sexually provocative speech or dress on the part of the complainant in a sexual harassment suit? I agree with the Supreme Court regarding this issue in which they stated “that the testimony about respondent’s “dress and personal fantasies,” which the District Court apparently admitted into evidence, had no place in this litigation. ” Would we submit the dress and fantasies of a prostitute into a sex assault case?
If the defense is alleging that the dress of the prostitute was a result of a man rapping a woman. Of course not, so why should we should allow it in this case. IV. Case Question 3 Did Taylor in fact make unwelcome sexual advances to Vinson? The burden of proof lies between Ms. Vinson and Taylor. As a manager you would want to stir clear of any inner office dating, because of such allegations. Just look at today’s media headlines with cases from Sports Commentaries to Comedians such as David Letterman.
The text books states while the question whether particular conduct was indeed unwelcome presents difficult problems of proof and turns largely on credibility determinations committed to the truth of fact, the District Court in this case erroneously focused on the “voluntaries” of respondent’s participation in the claimed sexual episodes. The correct inquiry is whether respondent by her conduct indicated that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome, not whether her actual participation in sexual intercourse was voluntary (Twomey.
P429). One area that the court would want to check for burden of proof, did Ms. Vinson voice her complaints to the bank. V. Case Question 4 What was wrong with the bank’s nondiscrimination policy and grievance procedure? Communication was the problem. The bank’s top management should have addressed the employees with an open door policy or open line of communication to them. Additionally, the bank’s training program did not address this issue.
In an area where common sense should prevail, this is the area in which companies should communicate and address issue such work place dating and sexual harassment. According to the text book, the Petitioner’s general nondiscrimination policy did not address sexual harassment in particular, and thus did not alert employees to their employer’s interest in correcting that form of discrimination. Moreover, the bank’s grievance procedure apparently required an employee to complain first to her supervisor, in this case Taylor.
Since Taylor was the alleged perpetrator, it is not altogether surprising that respondent failed to invoke the procedure and report her grievance to him. Petitioner’s contention that respondent’s failure should insulate it from liability might be substantially stronger if its procedures were better calculated to encourage victims of harassment to come forward. Reference Page •Twomey. Labor and Employment Law: Text & Cases, 14th Edition. South-Western/CourseSmart, 02/25/2009. 430).