Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, September 29, 2003

Woman On A Highway Crew - Loses Gender Claim Because She Didn't Check the Box

A failure to check 'sex' as a basis of discrimination on her EEOC charge dooms a female highway worker's suit based on the actions of her fellow crew members. Sitar v. Indiana Dept. of Transportation (7th Cir. 9/29/03).

She was more successful with her retaliation claim. The Court upheld the trial court's summary judgment on the transfer aspect of her claim, not because a transfer could not ever be the type of adverse action that will support a retaliation claim, but because there was no showing of protected activity. Although she complained to her supervisor about her treatment, she never mentioned it was because of her sex. While magic words are not required, there has to be something to indicate gender is an issue. She did succeed in reversing the trial court's summary judgment on her termination claim. Following filing a formal complaint with the department's Affirmative Action group, she was suddenly discharged when her supervisor learned that her charge had been supported and he was to be 'informally counseled'.

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