September 19, 2013
From FOI Natalie Fleury, here’s a great case arguing for good behavior in mediation:
During a shuttle mediation addressing alleged sexual discrimination, the charging party (and at-the-time current A.B. Data employee), Michael Benes, broke into the room where his employer’s representatives were situated and stated “You can take your proposal and shove it ** **** *** and fire me and I’ll see you in court.” He apparently felt the offer was too low.
Not surprisingly, he was fired. Mr. Benes then filed suit under 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a), the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted A.B. Data’s summary judgment motion, deciding that Benes had been fired for misconduct during mediation, not in retaliation for the discrimination charge. Benes appealed to the 7th Circuit.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, stating in part: “It was Benes who sabotaged the mediation session by barging into the other side’s room. Put to one side what he said there. Mediation would be less useful, and serious claims of discrimination therefore would be harder to vindicate, if people could with impunity ignore the structure established by the mediator. . . . Since §2000e–3(a) does not create a privilege to misbehave in court, it does not create a privilege to misbehave in mediation.”
You can access the full opinion here. Hat Tip to Willamette’s RDDR Summer 2013 Issue 4.
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