A jury found the Postal Service liable for creating a retaliatory hostile work environment, but awarded no compensatory damages.The Court also considered the issue of whether any equitable relief, such as back pay, should be awarded. The Court determined that former Nazareth, PA Postmaster did not prove any loss in wages or benefits resulting from the Postal Service’s unlawful actions to support or quantify an award of back pay. The Court did grant equitable relief in the form of enhanced training for certain Postal Managers and a requirement that USPS post notices of the verdict.
Hare essentially makes three claims under Title VII. First, she argued the Post Office violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a) by retaliating against her for filing a claim with the EEOC. She claimed this retaliation is evidenced by her not being selected for the POOM job or the CMP, receiving a lower performance rating, and being harassed by several Postal Managerss. Second, she argued the Post Office discriminated against her based on her sex in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Specifically, she claimed she was sexually harassed by a Postal Inspector. She also claimed that her complaint against the Postal Inspector was inadequately investigated because she is a woman, and she was subjected to a hostile work environment created by her supervisors. Finally, she claimed the Post Office violated Title VII by constructively discharging her.
In a Federal District Court Hare’s claims of retaliation and hostile work environment against the Postal Service were heard by a jury. Prior to trial, the Third Circuit had upheld a ruling in favor of the Postal Service on Hare’s constructive discharge claim, as well as Hare’s claim that her receiving a lower performance rating was retaliatory. Hare dropped the sexual harassment claim.
After trial, the jury determined that the Postal Service had created or allowed a hostile work environment, but awarded zero compensatory damages. Hare sought back pay, and injunctive relief in the form of restraints on speech by the Postal Service. The Court ruled that Hare is not entitled to any relief..Opinion from the Federal Circuit
The District Court ordered enhanced training for several Postal Managers:
The focus of the training shall include what circumstances, conduct, and communications constitute retaliation, a hostile work environment, and retaliatory harassment; appropriate and inappropriate behavior by managers; and how to maintain a non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory workplace environment. If the training references this case, the facts supporting the jury verdict on liability shall be used to illustrate these principles.
The training shall be provided to the following individuals: Central Pennsylvania Performance Cluster District Manager; all current Post Office Operations Managers for the Central Pennsylvania Performance Cluster; and those individuals in the management chain of the district which included the Nazareth Post Office at the time of the contested conduct. The total number of participants shall not exceed twenty-five (25) people.
The Defendant shall post the jury verdict sheet for Hare v. Potter in the following facilities: Nazareth Post Office, Nazareth, Pennsylvania; Central Pennsylvania Performance Cluster District Offices, 1425 Crooked Hill Road, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and the Philadelphia Metropolitan Performance Cluster District Office, 2970 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA.
The postings at the Nazareth Post Office shall be on the bulletin board nearest the Poster 71, Equal Opportunity is the Law. The posting at the Central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Performance Cluster District Offices shall be on the bulletin board nearest the District Manager’s Office on the bulletin board nearest the Poster 71….
The jury verdict shall be posted within thirty-five (35) days of the Final Order and Judgment, and shall remain posted for a period of sixty (60) days. Upon appeal, either party may seek a stay of this order.
Accompanying the postings shall be the following: As a result of this verdict, supplemental training will be given in 2008 to Postal Service managers pursuant to a court order entered on December 19, 2007.