Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

A female Executive Jet employee complained about inappropriate behavior ("lewd," "raunchy," "sexualized banter," "pornographic emails," and at least one pinching incident) by male employees, which turned out to be (a) fabricated to a large degree (b) motivated by her desire for a transfer, and (c) a complaint about behavior she herself often initiated.

The airline investigated, discovered the misconduct was widespread among employees of both genders and - perhaps feeling it needed to do something - fired the male employees.

The men promptly filed a claim of gender discrimination with the EEOC, and later in court, alleging they were fired for behavior female employees engaged in with impunity.

The lower court dismissed the case, finding the female employees were not "similarly situated" (that is, comparing the male employees to the female employees was like comparing apples to oranges), because they had different supervisors.

The Ninth Circuit rejected that reasoning (pointing out the termination decision was made by the president of the company, not by one of the two supervisors), but accepted the district court's other basis for dismissing the case: No one complained about the female employees' behavior.

Anyone care to comment?