2008: Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville
Does Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect a worker from dismissal for cooperating in an employer’s internal sexual-harassment investigation?
Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville
Oral Arguments: October 8th, 2008
Question: Does Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect a worker from dismissal for cooperating in an employer’s internal sexual-harassment investigation?
Background: In 2002, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) Legal Department launched an investigation of the Metro School District’s employee relations director, Dr. Gene Hughes, after several female employees expressed distress about being sexually harassed. In the process of the investigation, Vicky Crawford, a Metro employee who worked closely with Dr. Hughes, shared stories of multiple instances of harassment, which she had not previously reported because of fear of retaliation. The investigations of Dr. Hughes reached a dead end when he denied committing any of the alleged acts and no witnesses could verify that any of the instances of harassment had occurred. Three months after the investigations, Vicky Crawford and the two other colleagues who had alleged sexual harassment were dismissed from their positions. Ms. Crawford sued Metro, charging that they had violated the “anti-retaliation” provision of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Based upon its interpretation of the anti-retaliation provision of the statute, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the employer, stating that Ms. Crawford did not meet the requirements for a retaliation claim. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of this case.
Amicus Brief: The URJ signed onto a brief, submitted by the National Women’s Law Center, arguing that the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act must protect from dismissal workers who participate in internal sexual-harassment cases. It highlights pervasiveness of sexual harassment and its detrimental affect on women’s abilities to participate fully in the workplace.
For the Reform Movement’s resolution on sexual harassment, click here.
For a complete listing of cases that the Supreme Court is considering this term, visit the SCOTUSBlog 2008 Case Index.