Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Maybe This Is Why Minor League Baseball Has Become So Popular, Not

For one of the more bizarre sexual harassment cases that I can remember having seen, or if you happen to be a fan of the Salt Lake Stingers, a AAA club in the Pacific Coast League, formerly known as the Buzz, you should check out Alwine v. Buzas (10th Cir. 2/27/04). The suit brought by a female applicant for the position of -- well that was part of the issue apparently -- she thought she was applying for a general manager's position, whereas the owner of the Buzz thought she was applying for "Tammy's job", which was an apparent reference to the former General Manager's job, and at least in the mind of the owner of the Buzz, may have included more than baseball duties.

There are no highlights of what seems (solely from a reading of this opinion) to be a poster child for those who feel that the legal system is losing touch with reality when extensive time and energy are spent on such matters, when what really is appropriate is "a plague on both your houses." It reminds me of a case recently where I interviewed a "non-partisan" witness who candidly said, if it was possible he hoped both sides would lose. Although not a highlight, one interesting question that could have been raised, but was not and so was not decided, was whether a hostile environment claim can be based on conduct during an interview? Perhaps the reason was that it was not raised was that the interviews, were to say the least not the usual job interview.

If you are just interested in outcomes, the Buzz won both the trial and the appeal. (Better than they did against Buzz Tech, see the Georgia Tech press release on their trademark victory over the Buzz.) While the conduct that seems to have happened, which is most aptly described as of a "dirty old man" nature, is not to be condoned, surely there are better ways to deal with it than expending the resources and the credibility of the legal system.

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