November 26, 2012

"The senior employee knows that one of the other employees doesn't like country music, so he tells her, 'If you don't date me, it's going to be country music all day long.'"

"Does that make the senior employee the supervisor?" — asked Chief Justice John Roberts.

30 comments:

Jeff said...

Well, if he's a jerk he's taxing to work with. And we all know that the taxing power justifies anything.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Geeze. They sound like the philosophers in the dark ages arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

They also sound like people who have never worked for a living in anything other than the rarefied and unreal atmosphere of academia.

Someone who can routinely assign tasks, alter your work day, tell you what to do, dump work on you or prevent you from doing other work is a supervisor, whether or not they can fire or hire you. They are acting on the behalf of the company or supervisor.

In the financial world I believe it is called Law of Agency. Where the agent is presumed to be acting on the behalf and at the express interest of the principal and any malfeasance or wrongdoing is reflected back upon the principal.

"The common law principle in operation is usually represented in the Latin phrase, qui facit per alium, facit per se, i.e. the one who acts through another, acts in his or her own interests and it is a parallel concept to vicarious liability and strict liability in which one person is held liable in criminal law or tort for the acts or omissions of another."

Roadkill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baron Zemo said...

You know he would be ok if he played rap music. Just sayn'

McTriumph said...

The article never states how she felt harassed or did I miss it?

Baron Zemo said...

If he felt her ass that is definitely harrassment.

edutcher said...

Only if that's his title, but I'm sure there's somebody on the food chain to whom she could complain.

phx said...

Are we talking about old country or new country?

Rohan said...

@Dust Bunny Queen, I disagree. I thought Kagan's hypothetical was interesting.

I would class the professor as the "client" of the secretary, not the supervisor.

But the client still wields power over the worker, because the client determines satisfaction and often the priority of tasks. Ask anyone in business what happens when your #1 client has a major problem.

Imo, it would be a mistake to stretch the definition of supervisor to cover clients, just so this law goes into effect. They're different things, and should be handled differently.

Paul said...

It makes him a creep. And it makes the workplace uncomfortable.

Sue is ass off.

DADvocate said...

What if they work in Nashville?

phx said...

What color are they?

chrisnavin.com said...

Great way to get a date there, buddy.

Saint Croix said...

The way we treat corporations is insane.

employers are automatically liable for damages in most cases in which a supervisor harasses a subordinate.

The corporation did nothing.

Yet she's suing the corporation.

Why?

The corporation has money.

And of course this is a hidden tax that gets passed to all of us, the consumers.

So we all have to pay more dimes, or dollars, while she can retire on her country music boo boo.

I don't know what's worse, the non-injury, the suing of people who did not do anything, or the attempt to get money for nothing.

Liberalism is legalized theft.

SDN said...

Baron, absolutely.

Worked with a black female contractor back in 08 on a software project. She was a fan of rap music. Her favorites started with "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" and went X-rated from there. We knew this even if she was wearing headphones because she liked to sing along.

There were two other contractors, both Indian males, in the office. No one dared to say anything because she had already let us know she had filed discrimination claims.

Finally, a black female supervisor was invited to drop by for a meeting and heard the concert. She could say something.

phx said...

I didn't read the piece but if it could be shown the company was negligent by not training the supervisor or by ignoring offenses or other complaints, maybe there's a real case against the company itself.

Rabel said...

Wish they would have asked whether the Chief Justice would be classified as supervisor of the associates.

If Roberts piped Wagner, or better yet, funeral dirges into Ginsberg's chambers, would that constitute a hostile work environment? I'm not going into what he would have asked for as a quid pro quo.

But seriously, Totenberg's article missed most of the key points. Reading it is a waste of time.

Dante said...

What's the big deal? The president of the United States got away with it. No one seemed to care about it much then. No "I believe you Juanita" volvo bumper stickers, not one "I believe you Kathleen" bumper sticker, no "I'm with you Paula" bumper stickers. Only silence. Absolute silence.


Seriously, how do the Democrats do it? They have practically the entire country up in arms over a black man purportedly asking a black woman if "There is a pubic hair in my coke," but meanwhile Bill Clinton alleged Groper, alleged exhibitionist, alleged rapist, is somehow covered up, and is out their campaigning for the Democrats! Unbelievable! I suppose you have to be a middle of the roader to understand it.

And no wonder the Democrats aren't worried about Benghazi. All they have to do is use the word "Vagina" and all the single females jump, like the dogs when they hear "Squirrel" in "Up."

In any event, it was racial harassment, not sexual. To me, the simple question is "Why didn't the woman talk with her supervisor?" If she had, and the supervisor did nothing, then there is a legitimate complaint against the company. Supervisors have a special place in a company. They are part of the management team, and they are trained specially.

Lawyers trying to increase their share of the pie, is all this is. It's STUPID. It has no merit.

And please, I do not want to have to go through more "sensitivity" training. I admit I'm an insensitive lout, but I'm an equal opportunity insensitive lout. But even my insensitivity is not as offensive as "sensitivity training."

MayBee said...

Let's compare this to the University of Iowa situation, where the institution couldn't be held responsible for the actions of its employees.

MayBee said...

Let's compare this to the University of Iowa situation, where the institution couldn't be held responsible for the actions of its employees.

Carl said...

Phoo, this is what comes from the tired old dead white male patriarchal insistence on the constricting black-and-white rule of law -- written law, for that matter! Completely inflexible, inhumane if not inhuman.

Clearly these things should be settled by the complainant making her case in front of some wise Latina magistrate, who would then decide on the basis of her own instincts, empathy and wisdom, not to mention the sincerity of the plaintiff's tears, whether or not the defendant was or was not a Mean Bastard. And if he was, well then off with his head, or whatever other punishment seems to fit the crime at the time, as determined by the nation in a Times/CBS poll or text 96669 to vote kind of deal.

Why we put up with being ruled by inflexible dry words on a page, strictly interpreted, the same way every time for every victim, regardless of how winsome or pitiable she is, and every perp, regardless of how obviously mean and socially undesirable he is, quite escapes me. Where's the justice there? How can we ensure that people with good hearts thrive, and those with bad hearts suffer, when we are shackled by these fiddling surface considerations of their mere actions? How can we penetrate to their souls and judge them?

Bah. I miss the old days, when the bastinado and the stake put teeth into the enforcement of public morals.

Saint Croix said...

I didn't read the piece but if it could be shown the company was negligent by not training the supervisor or by ignoring offenses or other complaints, maybe there's a real case against the company itself.

Obviously there isn't, which is why they are trying to make this guy management. So in effect he is the company now.

The whole thing is bullshit. Lawyers do it for money. The woman suing wants money for nothing. She doesn't want to work. She wants a free ride. This stupid attempt at flirtation is her ticket to the lottery.

And I haven't even spoken about the hell that rains down on employees from corporate now, who just wants to avoid lawsuits from its own people. How do you avoid this lawsuit in the future?

No music!

No dating at work!

No fun, in other words. Let's cut out anything that might be fun, and make work as hellish and dictatorial as possible. We need to make work totalitarian so we can satisfy Catherine MacKinnon, the insane fuckwit who came up with all this shit.

And the proper response to a man who annoys you at work is to speak to him. You're an employee, you're not a slave nor a serf.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitchell the Bat said...

"I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'"

-- Bob Newhart

Saint Croix said...

Oops, it was just a hypothetical. I should click on the links before I comment!

I once dated a woman who loved country music. She was easily the most beautiful woman I ever dated. But the country music thing terrified me. I had this nightmare that we would be trapped in a car on a long drive and she would want to play country music for hours. Luckily she saw my flaws first, so that never happened.

There is one country music song that is unquestionably awesome.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint Croix said...

Having strong opinions about a case I haven't read is embarrassing. I'm embarrassed.

It's just a hypothetical, Althouse!

I should sue Althouse for causing me to embarrass myself.

No, I should sue the University of Wisconsin for having a law professor who has a blog who led me, via entrapment, to think there actually was a case involving country music sex harassment, thereby making me look stupid and causing much emotional distress. And I'm late for work, so that's some money. Definitely I should get a check.

SGT Ted said...

"Does that make the senior employee the supervisor?"

No, it just makes him the utterer of an incredibly bad pick-up line.

Why can't women handle male sexuality? Maybe it's the women that need sensitivity training so they can understand the effect their curvy form has on males and how to minimise it in the workplace to avoid problems.

Bryan C said...

"Someone who can routinely assign tasks, alter your work day, tell you what to do, dump work on you or prevent you from doing other work is a supervisor, whether or not they can fire or hire you. They are acting on the behalf of the company or supervisor."

Using that definition, I'm having a hard time picturing any working relationship whatsoever that does not subject the company to summary punishment whenever there's an interpersonal disagreement.

The guy who does groundskeeping at your office building often runs lawnmowers, leaf-blowers, and weed-eaters in the grassy courtyard right outside your office window. This makes your seasonal allergies flare up, and sometimes forces you to close your window lest you be distracted you from doing your work. By your definition, has the groundskeeper harassed you? Why not?

LarsPorsena said...

We crossed the line from legal to legalistic long ago.