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Yamaguchi v. U.S. Dept. of the Air Force, 109 F.3d 1475 (9th Cir. April 1, 1997)
Keywords: Title VII (sex discrimination, scope of the charge, failure to protect; and hostile work environment sexual harassment, employer liability)
Introduction: Shirley Yamaguchi, a civilian Air Force employee, sued the Air Force under Title VII for hostile work environment sexual harassment and for sex discrimination for failing to protect her from sexual harassment.
The district court dismissed Yamaguchi's sex discrimination claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; struck Yamaguchi's requests for compensatory damages on the sexual harassment claim because the alleged sexual harassment occurred prior to the effective date of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which provided a plaintiff with a right to a jury trial and compensatory damages; and denied Yamaguchi's motion for partial summary judgment and the Air Force's motion for partial summary judgment.
The Ninth Circuit reverses the dismissal of Yamaguchi's sex discrimination claim; reverses the grant of the Air Force's motion to strike the request for compensatory damages and a jury trial; and affirms the district court's denial of the Air Force's motion for summary judgment on the issue of employer liability.
Facts: Yamaguchi worked at Hickam Air Force Base. Senior Master Sergeant Clark provided informal, on-the-job training to Yamaguchi. Clark had no authority over Yamaguchi. In December 1990 Clark began to sexually harass Yamaguchi. On November 8, 1991 Clark allegedly raped Yamaguchi at her apartment.
On December 23, 1991 Yamaguchi orally complained about Clark's behavior at work to an EEO counselor at Hickam. On that same day, she spoke with a Deputy of her group about Clark's conduct -- but she did not report the rape.
When Yamaguchi complained of Clark's conduct, her immediate supervisor was on leave. But her supervisor's superior officer, Col. Deligans, was informed of the allegations. He ordered Clark not to have any contact with Yamaguchi, except on official business.
On January 7, 1992, Col. Deligans moved Clark from the building where Yamaguchi worked to another building. On January 30, 1992, Clark was verbally ordered not to enter the building where Yamaguchi worked.
On February 25, 1992, this order was reiterated in writing and Clark was ordered to turn over his key to the building. Clark asked to report early to a new assignment, and on April 27, 1992 Clark was reassigned to a base on the mainland.
Beginning in February of 1992, Yamaguchi's work attendance became erratic due to leave for mental problems, which she asserts resulted from the harassment and the attack.
By August of 1992 she was ready to return to work, but only in a different location. On September 14, 1992 she returned to work in a new position. Although this position was a lower grade, she retained the grade and pay of her original position.
By May of 1993 her work attendance once again became erratic. On September 10, 1993 Col. Deligans terminated Yamaguchi's employment due to her inability to perform the essential functions of her job.
1. Sex discrimination claim
The district court found that Yamaguchi's claim of disparate treatment was not raised in her original EEOC complaint.
ii. To establish federal subject matter jurisdiction over an employment discrimination claim, a plaintiff must have raised that claim or a like and reasonably related claim in an administrative action.
iii. The district court has subject matter jurisdiction over allegations of discrimination that either fell within the scope of the EEOC's actual investigation or an EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination.
iv. In reviewing the allegations set forth in the EEOC charge, the Ninth Circuit determines that Yamaguchi did allege sex discrimination. Therefore, the Court reverses the dismissal of this claim.
B. Insufficiency of allegations
A. Insufficiency of evidence
. The district court also found that Yamaguchi's sex discrimination claim was not supported by sufficient evidence.
ii. But the Ninth Circuit holds that an inquiry into the adequacy of the evidence is improper when deciding whether to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
2. Availability of compensatory damages and a jury trial
3. Employer liability
4. Click here to see actual case.
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