Thursday, June 22, 2006

Context Matters

WaPo reports some good news out of SCOTUS for a change:

"The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed a sex discrimination jury award for a female forklift operator who was transferred to a more physical job after she filed a lawsuit accusing her employer of sexual harassment.

By a 9-0 vote, justices said that Sheila White was improperly punished with a suspension for 37 days over a Christmas holiday and a transfer from operating the forklift to doing more physical work as a yard worker.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that White did receive back pay. But he said she and her family had to live 37 days without any income.

'Many reasonable employees would find a month without a paycheck to be a serious hardship," Breyer wrote, adding that "an indefinite suspension without pay could well act as a deterrent, even if the suspended employee eventually received back pay.'

'Context matters,' Breyer wrote.

A schedule change may not bother many workers, he said, but it may matter greatly to a young mother with small children. Or, Breyer said, a supervisor's failure to invite a worker to lunch would seem trivial unless the luncheon was a weekly training session crucial to the employee's advancement."

It's good to see that Breyer gets that.

1 comment:

Kid Charlemagne said...

As one of my law school professors said when I somehow came up with a right answer to his question: "Even a blind squirrel sometimes gets a nut."