From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
Dec. 2 — A male former sales employee for an Arkansas tobacco products manufacturer who alleged that his male supervisor squeezed his nipple can't proceed to trial on a Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act sexual harassment claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Dec. 2.
Affirming summary judgment for Swedish Match North America Inc., the Eighth Circuit found that Donald Rickard failed to show that his supervisor's alleged actions, which also included rubbing a towel on his crotch before giving it to Rickard, were based on sex or motivated by sexual desire.
The appeals court also affirmed summary judgment for Swedish Match on Rickard's hostile work environment claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Although Rickard, who retired at age 55, offered evidence that the same supervisor called him an “old man” and told him he had “a lot of age on [him],” the court held that those comments were not sufficiently severe to affect a term, condition or privilege of Rickard's employment.
In order to prevail on a Title VII sexual harassment claim, the court explained, Rickard must show that the purported offensive conduct of his supervisor, Perry Payne, either was motivated by sexual desire or demonstrated a “general hostility” toward males in the workplace.
The court acknowledged that Payne's alleged actions are “manifestly inappropriate and obnoxious.” However, it said, they are insufficient to establish that Payne “harbored hostility against men in the workplace.”
In addition, Rickard introduced no evidence apart from speculation that Payne was motivated by sexual desire, the court said. Rickard also admitted that Payne never sought a sexual or romantic relationship, it said.
Turning to Rickard's ADEA claim, the Eighth Circuit concluded that Payne's alleged ageist comments, “even if intentionally disparaging,” were not severe enough to constitute actionable harassment.
The Eighth Circuit acknowledged that supervisor Perry Payne's alleged actions were “manifestly inappropriate and obnoxious,” but it said they were insufficient to establish that Payne “harbored hostility against men in the workplace.”
The court found that Rickard failed to show how the comments affected a term, condition or privilege of his employment.
“Although it appears Rickard suffered because of his interactions with Payne, a reasonable person would not have found any comments or incidents [that] created a hostile environment under the law,” the court said.
Given that Rickard couldn't establish an age-based hostile environment, the court also dismissed his constructive discharge claim, which was based on his contention that he was forced to retire because of intolerable working conditions.
Additionally, Rickard has no Title VII disparate treatment or retaliation claims because he voluntarily retired and thus didn't experience an adverse employment action, the court said.
Larry J. Steele of Walnut Ridge, Ark., represented Rickard. Hilburn & Calhoon and Troutman & Sanders represented Swedish Match.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text of the opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Donald_Rickard_v_Swedish_Match_North_America_Docket_No_1303729_8t.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)