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Idaho Jury Backs Employment Decisions and Policies

A female management employee complained to Human Resources that her male manager made insulting comments about other female employees. The employee’s complaint was investigated, and the company addressed the issue with the manager, training and coaching him on its long-standing Code of Conduct and Professional Conduct Policy. The female employee was subsequently transferred to the night shift when the number of similar positions on the day shift was reduced because she had fewer years of service than her peers.
The female employee complained to Human Resources that working the night shift posed a hardship because she needed to be home to care for her disabled daughter. The female employee applied for a hardship transfer to a different facility and she also applied for a driver position, both of which she did not receive because she did not have the necessary qualifications and her performance evaluations were sub-standard.  
After requesting and being granted a leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the female employee resigned her employment. She then filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Idaho Human Right Commission and ultimately brought a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and retaliation.  
The employee alleged that after she reported the insulting comments made by her manager, the company engaged in repeated adverse employment action against her, including transferring her to the night shift, installing security cameras, denying her jobs, and ‘digging up dirt’ about her with other employees. She also complained that the company failed to accommodate her hardship circumstances.
After five days of trial, and after deliberating for less than two hours, the jury delivered a total defense verdict in favor of the company. In post-trial jury interviews, jurors stated they believed the employee’s transfer to the evening shift was based on a legitimate business reason, unconnected to her complaint. One juror commented that there was absolutely no evidence, beyond the employee’s own thoughts, to support her allegations of retaliation – “it was totally bogus.” Jurors were impressed by how Human Resources personnel at the local and district levels handled the employee’s complaint. Jurors also determined that the employee’s performance evaluations were fair and that the company went “above and beyond” to try to accommodate her personal situation, but her hardship-based requests for shift changes and job positions were not warranted under the company’s policies and processes.


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