Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stuck in the cubicle

Retaliation claims under Title VII require the plaintiff to show that management's response to her complaints about discrimination would deter a reasonable person from against speaking out in the workplace. That's the rule under Burlington Northern v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006), and it's a generous one. But it won't get you a trial in every case.

The case is Roncallo v. Sikorsky Aircraft, a summary order decided on November 21. What does it take to shut up workers who complain about discrimination? And what does management have to do for plaintiffs to sue for retaliation? When the Supreme Court in the Burlington Northern case came up with the legal standard governing these cases, it created a separate "adverse employment action" from that utilized in the more traditional disparate treatment cases, which require a material change in job conditions (such as termination, demotion, loss of pay) in order to prove the plaintiff suffered discrimination. Retaliation claims became a little easier for plaintiffs to pursue under this standard. And Burlington Northern contradicted the view -- held by many -- that the Supreme Court is comprised of pro-corporate Justices.

Not every retaliation case proceeds to trial, though. In this case, the plaintiff said that he was a retaliation victim because he was temporarily moved from an office to a cubicle. No one wants to work in a cubicle if they can work in an office, and to use a baseball analogy, going from an office to the cubicle is like going from the major leagues to a AA minor league team in Duluth. To use a rock and roll analogy, it's like going from Madison Square Garden to Joe's Pub in rural Wyoming. But perhaps these analogies try too hard. These downshifts are substantial, but you get the point. Going from office to cubible is not considered a dramatic job change. The Second Circuit (Sack, Wesley and Katzmann) disposes of this argument in short order. The temporary move to a cubicle is not an adverse action.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Warrantless entry into house is legal under Fourth Amendment

The Court of Appeals has granted summary judgment to police officers who entered someone's home without a warrant. The Second Circuit rules that the officers did this under exigent circumstances as they reasonably believed the plaintiff was inside the house and was armed and dangerous.

The case is Montanez v. Sharoh, a summary order decided on November 9. The Court of Appeals (Katzmann, Wesley and Walker) actually reversed the district court, which granted summary judgment to plaintiff Montanez in this case. That the Court reverses that ruling in favor of plaintiff and instead grants summary judgment to the officers on the basis of qualified immunity in an unpublished summary order only shows how routine rulings like this have become. Last year, Montanez was rejoicing in victory. Today, it's the agony of defeat.

So what happened? The warrantless entry was prompted by a "child welfare check" by the Department of Children and Families. Before they entered the house, the officers were told that Montanez was "armed and dangerous and a convicted felon wanted for weapons and narcotics violations. They were also told to use 'extreme caution' if they located Montanez." When they entered the house, the officers also reason to believe that Montanez was inside. (His presence inside the house creates an exigent circumstance). While plaintiff was a fugitive and no one answered when the police came-a-kocking and called him on the phone, the lights were on at 1:00 a.m. and a side door was unlocked. The police also reasonably thought a child was inside the house (she was at grandma's earlier that day) and that Montanez posed a risk to her. In fact, no one was home. No matter. When the cops entered, they found (and seized) an Uzi and some ammunition. Of course, that stuff was illegal. But the police were legally able to enter the house without a warrant under their objectively reasonable belief that Montanez was inside and posed a serious risk to his children, so the police win the case.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ghostwriters in the sky

The general view is that lawyers cannot ghostwrite legal pleadings and other documents for pro se litigants. That's because courts give pro se parties the benefit of the doubt in drafting inartful documents, and they will benefit from that leniency even if a lawyer is helping out behind the scenes. The Court of Appeals is now saying that lawyers who ghostwrite pro se documents are not violating the professional responsibility rules.

The case is In Re Liu, an attorney disciplinary action decided on November 22. This immigration lawyer was disciplined by the Second Circuit for various screw-ups. But the Second Circuit decided that counsel should not be sanctioned for helping to draft documents behind the scenes for pro se litigants.

District courts have been on the lookout for ghostwriters. Recently, one judge in the SDNY suspected that a lawyer was actually drafting the papers for a pro se litigant. The judge said, "The court remains convinced that plaintiff has had the assistance of an attorney in preparing the exceptionally detailed and very lawyerly pleading — utterly atypical of a pro se pleading — that is the subject of this motion. The original complaint also bore the hallmarks of a hidden attorney. If the court ever learns the identity of this attorney he  or she will be reported to the relevant Departmental Disciplinary Committee and to the Grievance Committee of this Court." Ochei v. Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home Co., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20542, 20-21 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 1, 2011)

Looking at this issue afresh, the Court of Appeals (Calabresi, Wesley and Sack) notes that "a number of other federal courts have found that attorneys who had ghostwritten briefs or other pleadings for ostensibly pro se litigants had engaged in misconduct. ... On the other hand, a number of bar association ethics committees have been more accepting of ghostwriting." Some bar associations require the ghostwriting attorney to disclose his role to the court and opposing counsel. Others say that the pro se litigant will not get the benefit of the doubt in these circumstances because her papers will read more professionally. The Second Circuit thus observes, "in light of the ABA's 2007 ethics opinion, and the other recent ethics opinions permitting various forms of ghostwriting, it is possible that the courts and bars that previously disapproved of attorney ghostwriting of pro se filing will modify their opinion of that practice."

The attorney at issue in this misconduct proceeding will not be sanctioned for ghostwriting. The Court of Appeals defers to the experts in this area and suggests that the man behind the curtain can draft legal papers for unrepresented parties without any fear of discipline.

Under these circumstances, we conclude that Liu’s ghostwriting did not constitute misconduct and therefore permit that practice, we conclude that Liu could not have been aware of any general obligation to disclose her participation to this Court. We also conclude that there is no evidence suggesting that Liu knew, or should have known, that she was withholding material information from the Court or that she otherwise acted in bad faith. The petitions for review now at issue were fairly simple and unlikely to have caused any confusion or prejudice. Additionally, there is no indication that Liu sought, or was aware that she might obtain, any unfair advantage through her ghostwriting. Finally, Liu’s motive in preparing the petitions – to preserve the petitioners’ right of review by satisfying the thirty-day jurisdictional deadline – demonstrated concern for her clients rather than a desire to mislead this Court or opposing parties.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Apples and oranges do not make a Title VII claim

Employment discrimination cases are harder to win the plaintiff has done something wrong. The plaintiff can say that she was singled out and that management looked the other way when male workers screwed up, but these disparate treatment cases face a high hurdle, and the Second Circuit is not too fond of them.

The case is Desir v. City of New York, a summary order decided on November 2. Desir was a probationary teacher who got unsatisfactory ratings for the 2004-05 school year and was relieved of his duties. The Second Circuit (Livingston, Walker and Straub) summarizes Desir's case: "Desir principally relies on the fact that he was both the only African-American teacher of the five who received unsatisfactory ratings for the 2004-2005 school year and the only one of those five who was fired." Now, if you are not that familiar with Title VII law, this might seems a good case. Desir was singled out, right? What about the teachers who got unsatisfactory ratings who weren't fired?

The problem with Desir's case is that the white teachers were not similarly-situated to Desir. They are not comparable because these other teachers were all tenured. Desir was a probationary teacher. He therefore was not subject to the same performance standards as the other teachers. In order to win a disparate-treatment case like this, you have to be "subject to the same performance evaluation and discipline standards and engaged in comparable conduct." Since Desir was a newer teacher still on probation, he is held to different standards to the tenured teachers who got unsatisfactory ratings. As far as the Court of Appeals is concerned, this is apples and oranges.

Desir also sued under the First Amendment. He cannot do so because the speech he claims prompted his retaliatory termination was not on a matter of public concern. It was a personal matter. "Although Desir argues he addressed organizational problems with the home instruction program and not just personal matters, his speech fundamentally concerned his own entitlement to privileges as a home instructor and therefore cannot be considered to have encompassed matters of public concern."

Friday, November 18, 2011

$1 million punitives award in discrimination case cut down to $50,000

A federal judge has reduced a $1 million punitive damages award to $50,000 following a jury trial in which a black former employee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital proved that management retaliated against him for complaining about racial discrimination in the workplace.

The case is Chisholm v. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130089 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 3, 2011). Chisholm convinced the jury that a supervisor, Adamec, punished him for speaking out about workplace discrimination. This led to Chisholm's termination. The jury awarded Chisholm more than $230,000 in back pay and authorized the judge to award him front pay, or future lost income. The jury also awarded plaintiff a million dollars in punitives under the New York City Human Rights Law. That million dollar award has been remitted to $50,000.

First, Judge Marrero awarded $102,000 in front pay, through 2014. Chisholm wanted front pay through 2020, when he turns 65. But the court said that awarding front pay for the next nine years would be speculative and that Chisholm probably would have been fired long before then because of performance deficiencies. Judge Marrero says:
While the Court does not contest the jury's finding that the April 2007 log-sheet incident was not the true reason for Chisholm's termination, Chisholm's behavior in connection with that incident is nonetheless relevant evidence of Chisholm's inappropriate workplace demeanor. That Chisholm had retained transportation department documents in his locked desk drawer and indicative Defendants could troubling justifiably regard as of behavior increasingly erratic. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that it is unlikely that Chisholm would have remained employed by Sloan-Kettering through 2020.
So, while the jury said the log-sheet incident was not the real reason for plaintiff's termination (and that the real reason was retaliation), the court uses that incident as a means to limit Chisholm's front-pay award.

On punitive damages, the jury awarded them because of Adamec's reprehensible behavior. But the jury was also told that the hospital would pay out the award under the New York City Human Rights Law. The court says the award shocks the judicial conscience. Even though the hospital pays the award, the court cites cases holding that a punitive damages award cannot "be so high as to result in the financial ruin of the defendant." Of course, this award would not ruin the hospital, but it would certainly ruin Adamic were he to pay the award. He doesn't though. While Chisholm's lawyers argued that this large award would deter an institution such as Sloan-Kettering from doing this again, the district court rejects that argument as lacking any support in case law. The court concludes, "While Adamec's conduct was certainly reprehensible, as the jury found, it did not involve violence or the threat of violence. Nor did it involve racial slurs or other offensive language. Moreover, an award of $50,000 represents a significant financial hardship to an
individual defendant."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NYC wins Occupy Wall Street lawsuit. Protesters cannot re-enter Zuccotti Park with tents

A State Supreme Court Justice has ruled that the City of New York may prevent the Occupy Wall Street protesters from bringing tents and sleeping bags and other things into Zuccotti Park, where the OWS protests have taken place since September 17, 2011. The ruling denies the OWS request for a temporary restraining order.

The case is Waller v. City of New York, decided on the afternoon of November 15. As everyone knows, the OWS protesters have camped out at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to protest the vast inequality of wealth in this country and other deficiencies of the capitalist system. For many protesters, the park was a home away from home. I visited the park in mid-October and found a lively scene with hundreds of people holding signs, reading books, playing guitar, pounding on drums and generally hanging around.  I don't know how these people planned on staying there through the winter, but it's been a mild Autumn and the place was wall-to-wall people with a lot of tourists peeking around as well.

After New York City kicked everyone out of the park in the early-morning hours of November 15, the protesters brought an Article 78 petition seeking to continue with the tents and other gear that made the park a permanent protest location. In rejecting the restraining order, Justice Stallman noted that the park is a privately-owned public access plaza that is open 24 hours a day, unlike other city parks, which close at 11:00 p.m. The Court also noted that the park remains open to the protesters so long as they don't bring in all their stuff. Summarizing the parties' positions, the Court said:
The owner of Zuccotti Park has represented that, after cleaning and restoration of Zuccotti Park, it will permit the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to reenter the Park and to resume using it, in conformity with law and with the owner's rules. Petitioners contend that, under the First Amendment, Brookfield's rules are not valid. Petitioners assert that, given the enactment of the rules after the demonstrations began, the rules targeted Occupy Wall Street.
The Court adds that "the owner of Zuccotti Park had not previously published rules regulating its use by the public." This allows the plaintiffs to argue that the rules were made up on the fly to get rid of OWS in violation of the First Amendment. After assuming that the First Amendment applies to this park, the Court sides with the City of New York. Ultimately, this case turns on "time, place and manner," a branch of First Amendment case law that allows the government to regulate speech on public property so long as the rules are not intended to stifle the political message and the demonstrators have ample alternatives to promote that message.

Here, [plaintiffs] have not demonstrated that the rules adopted by the owners of the property, concededly after the demonstrations began, are not reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment. To the extent that City law prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places, enforcement of the law and the owner's rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or others for violations of law, or in tort. It also permits public access by those who live and work in the area who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus.

In short, "[t]he [plaintiffs] have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely."

This case does not go away, however. This ruling only addresses the temporary restraining order. The City has 30 days to further answer the petition so the Court may issue a final ruling on the merits. 

First Amendment does not protect employee speech to newspaper and public board

The Court of Appeals holds that a Vermont woman who suffered retaliation after speaking to the newspaper and testifying before a public board about job-related matters does not have a claim under the First Amendment because her speech was not protected under the Supreme Court's Garcetti decision, which holds that speech is unprotected if the plaintiff made it pursuant to her official job duties.

The case is Bearss v. Wilton, decided on November 3. This is a summary order, so the Court does not provide all the facts, but here is what happened: Debra Bearss made two statements: (1) she spoke to the newspaper "rebutting allegations that former city officials had deleted public documents in violation of state law," and (2) she gave testimony "at a Board of Civil Authority hearing regarding Bearss' job performance in which she rebutted allegations that employee benefits had been improperly made by the former city treasurer." Bearss was the City of Rutland's information technology coordinator.

As for the newspaper comment, the Second Circuit (Katzmann, Winter and Wesley) agrees with the district court that plaintiff's speech is not protected because she "was acting as an employee with first-hand knowledge of the City's computer use when she responded to the reporter's inquiries." It was her job to speak to the newspaper in that a city memo said that "any computer issues need to be addressed to Debra Bearss, IT Coordinator." This was comparable to an official communication and therefore not citizen speech.

As for the public hearing testimony, this issue is more complex. Bearss argues that her comments actually reflected her policy disagreements with the City regarding employee benefit decisions. She also says the speech addressed potential malfeasance by the former city treasurer and she therefore spoke as a private citizen. But the Second Circuit sees it differently: "the record supports the conclusion that Bearss' statements were motivated by personal interest in responding to criticism of her job performance and not motivated by a a desire to 'advance a public purpose.'" As there is no citizen analogue to Bearss' speech in that her statements "were made in a forum not available to citizens who are not employees of the City of Rutland," she did not engage in free speech, and the case is dismissed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sex-plus Fair Housing Act claim survives dismissal

Here's what happened to the plaintiff: he went to look for an apartment in Queens. Plaintiff is an unmarried male. The Complaint says the Co-op Board has a policy of refusing to sell to "men who are single." According to the lawsuit, "this discriminatory conduct was a result of a bad experience with a previous male tenant who threw loud parties and smoked marijuana." Does this guy have a case under the Fair Housing Act?

The case is Lax v. 29 Woodmere Boulevard Owners, __ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107546 (EDNY Sept 23, 2011). The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, among other things. This is a "sex-plus" claim, meaning the plaintiff seeks relief because the discrimination was based on his gender plus another characteristic, i.e., he is a single male. This seems to be a case of first impression. The district court says that Lax can bring the lawsuit. But it does so after reviewing Title VII cases involving "sex-plus" discrimination in employment. If Title VII recognizes sex-plus cases, why not the Fair Housing Act? Judge Bianco of the Eastern District of New York makes two observations:

First, "'sex-plus' discrimination claims are not solely limited to women and have been brought by men." Second, "gender plus marital status, the very sub-class alleged by Lax, has been recognized as a protected category in numerous discrimination cases. Although none of these cases were in the context of the Fair Housing Act, the Court finds that the Supreme Court and Second Circuit jurisprudence on 'sex-plus' claims under other discrimination statutes applies with equal force to the language of the FHA." One of the leading cases in this area is Back v. Hastings on Hudson School District, 365 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2004).

After Judge Bianco finds that the FHA recognizes this claim, he then holds that the Complaint states enough facts to survive a motion to dismiss. Lax did everything he was supposed to in trying to buy the apartment. It was then placed back on the market when the Co-op Board killed the deal. And, of course, someone on the board said that there was "discriminatory conduct again men who were single ... which was commonly known among building residents." Since the law does not require that Lax prove that the board denied any sale to comparable female applicants, the lawsuit may proceed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bergstein & Ullrich settle First Amendment public assembly case

City of Kingston agrees to pay $25,000 to aggrieved activists

Kingston Times
October 20, 2011
By Jesse Smith

The City of Kingston will pay a locally based pro-Palestinian activist group $25,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that police violated their First Amendment rights when they were turned away from a 2008 celebration of the founding of Israel in a public park.

According to Stephen Bergstein, attorney for the group Middle East Crisis Response, the agreement was worked out on October 11 just as jury selection was getting underway in U.S. District Court in Albany before Judge Mae D'Agostino. In addition to the $25,000 settlement, the terms of the deal call for a meeting between representatives from the group and incoming Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti to discuss how the department will handle similar issues going forward.

"It's one thing to give the plaintiffs some money," said Bergstein. "It's another to have the chief entertain feedback from the plaintiff to prevent this from happening again."

The lawsuit stems from a May 2008 incident at a rally organized by the Ulster County Jewish Federation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state. About a dozen members of MECR showed up at Gallo Park in downtown Kingston to stage a counter-demonstration. When a shouting match erupted between the two sides, Bergstein said, Kingston cops resolved the situation by removing the MECR contingent from the park and moving them to a spot between Mariner's Harbor restaurant -- out of sight of the pro-Israel faction. When a few of the counter-demonstrators tried to return to Gallo Park individually to pass out leaflets, they were escorted out by police. Bergstein added that the MECR supporters were misled by police to believe that the park was not open to the public for the duration of the rally.

Bergstein said that police overreacted to the heated verbal exchange between the factions and in so doing violated the activists' rights to make their views known.

"I really feel like the police jumped the gun," said Bergstein, who noted that most of the MECR contingent was over age 60. "There was no threat to physical safety."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WDNY gives green light to fees-only lawsuit under Title VI

This case will be of interest mainly to employment lawyers. A federal judge in the Western District of New York finds that a plaintiff who won her State law discrimination claim in the State Division of Human Rights may bring a lawsuit in federal court in order to recover her attorneys' fees under Title VII. The attorneys' fees-only lawsuit is permissible.

The case is Ballard v. HSBC Bank, ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123661 (WDNY Oct. 26, 2011). Title VII says that Federal courts have jurisdiction over any actions "brought under this subchapter." The court frames the issue as follows: "whether Ballard's claims solely for attorney's fees and costs are 'actions brought under this subchapter,' or, posed differently, whether Ballard can recover costs arising out of administrative and state proceedings." The answer is yes. Judge Skretny agrees with the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits, which have already addressed this issue. (The Fourth Circuit went the other way on this issue). As the Second Circuit has not yet addressed this issue, this is an important case.

Cases brought solely for attorneys' fees are in fact actions brought under Title VII. Ballard could not seek attorneys' fees in the State Division of Human Rights, which ruled in her favor on the racial discrimination claim, awarding her $35,000 for pain and suffering. So there is no res judicata problem.

What makes this case unique is that Ballard prevailed in the State Division only on her New York State Human Rights Law claim, which does not provide for attorneys' fees. The State Division did not make reference to her Title VII claim, even though she did dual-file her discrimination charge with the State Division and the EEOC. Title VII, of course, does provide for attorneys' fees. The Western District of New York says that Ballard did what she was supposed to in filing in the State Division, and State and Federal discrimination claims are essentially the same animal. The Court concludes that "if a party is successful in the very action that Title VII referred her to and required her to invoke (i.e. the Division proceedings), she will accordingly be deemed a 'prevailing party' under that statute. This is true, in part, because the elements proving a discrimination claim are virtually identical under federal and state anti-discrimination law."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

$500,000 Title VII verdict flies out the window

The Court of Appeals has rejected as baseless a Title VII retaliation verdict that awarded a security officer at the Indian Point nuclear power plant $500,000 in punitive damages. In doing so, the Second Circuit provides guidance on the meaning of Title VII's requirement that a retaliation plaintiff prove that he suffered an "adverse employment action." While the Second Circuit has issued favorable rulings on the "adverse action" question over the last few years, this one goes the other way.

The case is Tepperwien v. Entergy Nuclear Operations, decided on October 31. Tepperwien was a security officer at Indian Point in Westchester County. A male co-worker made sexual advances toward Tepperwien, who complained about this to management. Following this complaint, Tepperwien found himself on the hot seat as management began questioning him about various work-related incidents and filed counseling letters, which Tepperwien claimed were adverse actions sufficient to dissuade any reasonable employee from complaining about sexual harassment again. Plaintiff ended up quitting his job over this retaliation.

Here's what management did to Tepperwien after he complained about the harassment: the facility issued a "factfinder" when someone thought that Tepperwien has not reported that a gas mask was missing. Factfinders are common Q and A sessions, but not quite counseling sessions. Tepperwien said he had done nothing wrong, but he got a counseling letter over this. Another factfinder concerned management's concern that Tepperwien allowed an intoxicated employee onto the site. A month later, when Indian Point needed additional security, Tepperwien was scheduled to work with his harasser; he agreed, however, to take a different shift. Then, at a meeting of the security force, Tepperwien's supervisor gave him the evil eye after announcing that he did not like some of the workers. Plaintiff was then slapped with another factfinder after he agreed to keep an eye on someone's truck parked on the property and then asked his successor to also monitor the vehicle. Plaintiff then quit his job because he could not take it anymore. But he did write in his exit survey that he would consider working for the company again and was satisfied with his job.

In the district court, Judge Seibel took away the jury verdict, wiping out the $500,000 punitive damages award. (The jury awarded no compensatory damages). The Court of Appeals (Katzmann and Chin) affirms, and Tepperwien once again watches half-a-million dollars fly out the window.

After providing a good summary of the state of Title VII retaliation law, the Circuit says that all the bad stuff that happened to plaintiff was too trivial to dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining about sexual harassment, and that these incidents were not even enough in the aggregate to create an adverse action. Not only were the "factfinders" nondisciplinary and common occurrences at Entergy, but Entergy had good reason to initiate the factfinders such that "even assuming Tepperwien acted perfectly appropriately in all three incidents, there certainly was good reason for Entergy management to at least look into these situations." And, while factfinders may lead to discipline, Tepperwien was not disciplined in connection with these incidents. Moreover, while plaintiff received a counseling over the gas mask incident, it was rescinded after he contacted the in-house Employee Concerns Program. The counseling also did not place Tepperwien in an "active disciplinary process" and it was less than a warning or reprimand. Rather, the Second Circuit says that counselings like this are "part of training and necessary to allow employees to develop, improve and avoid discipline." And, like plaintiff, other employees were also counseled for not checking certain equipment. In all, the Second Circuit says that all the negative treatment was not sufficiently adverse (including the evil stare from a supervisor and another supervisor's empty threat to walk plaintiff off the worksite after plaintiff facetiously threatened to kick the harasser in the groin) to support a Title VII retaliation claim.

In the aggregate, these various responses by management in the wake of plaintiff's sexual harassment complaint also would not deter anyone from complaining in the future. As Judge Chin writes, "zero plus zero is zero." Moreover, noting that context is crucial in assessing whether the plaintiff suffered an adverse action, the Court says that the high-security environment at Indian Point requires that management exhibit little tolerance for mistakes and rules violations, and "it is not surprising that Tepperwien was treated in a rough and tumble manner rather than with kid gloves or in a genteel fashion."

In dissent, district judge John Gleeson would reinstate the verdict. This lengthy dissent proves that there are truly two sides of every story. Among other things, plaintiff did not have factfinders until he complained about the harassment. Judge Gleeson fleshes out some of the evidence that the majority opinion omits, including the hassle and runaround that Tepperwien experienced after lodging his complaints. While plaintiff said in his exit survey that he liked his job, Judge Gleeson says that the jury could credit his testimony that he did not want to look like a disgruntled employee and that you can like your job and be reasonably dissuaded from complaining about discrimination at the same time. Judge Gleeson also objects to the majority's view that a high-security workplace might require security officers to put up with diluted antiretaliation rights under Title VII.