As you are aware, Big Mike’s Construction (“Big Mike’s”) is a Texas-based company with one location in Dallas, Texas. Our office facility has two levels. Big Mike’s superintendents, carpenters, and general construction employees are on the lower level. All executive offices (including my executive suite, accounting, and human resources) are on the upper level. Big Mike’s consistently employs 50 employees, 38 of whom work on the lower level. Three years ago, Big Mike’s hired Samantha Michael as a carpenter. Ms. Michael was 55 years old when hired, and the only female carpenter during her tenure. I am not sure if it is relevant, but she was unmarried, had a short haircut, and never wore makeup. It is my understanding that the male carpenters and general construction employees began to treat Ms. Michael cruelly. They called her names such as “butch,” “old maid,” “spinster,” and “geriatric.” They would make comments telling her to “file for social security” and “we have reserved you a nursing home.” They also told her to “get a makeover” and “no man would ever marry you.” They would frequently make comments on her appearance. Ms. Michael would pretend she did not hear it, or she would respond with, “Please just stop.” She stayed pretty quiet and kept to herself. It is my understanding that her work was exceptional. She has never had any employment issues, write-ups, or performance improvement plans (PIPs). The men did not treat other men the way they treated Ms. Michael. She also never reacted or responded similarly to the employees who mistreated her. When we formed Big Mike’s, we were sure to include an anti-harassment policy which our lawyers assisted us with drafting. You can find that policy in the uploaded materials. Our policy directs all employees to contact the HR Manager, Melinda if they believe they have been subjected to any type of harassment. Ms. Michael never reported any of this behavior to Ms. z as she feared the other employees would retaliate and make her life worse. Six months ago, Ms. called Ms. Michael into her office stating that she was investigating the alleged misbehavior of carpenters at Big Mike’s. Ms. asked Ms. Ml if she ever observed any such behavior. Ms. Michael burst into tears and told Ms. Sanchez in detail about how the male carpenters and general construction employees constantly harassed her. A week after Ms. M met with Ms. S, she was placed on “suspension without pay for rudeness to coworkers” pending an internal investigation. Ms. Michael was the only employee disciplined for rudeness to coworkers. Big Mike’s permitted Ms. Mto return to work 30 days later, determining she had not been rude to co-workers, and issuing her full pay for all of the workdays missed during the suspension. Supervisors have now shared that when Ms. Ml returned to work, the male carpenters and general construction employees resumed their mistreatment of Ms.. However, now they included “snitch” and “rat” to their name-calling. They would remove her tools when she was not looking. Again, Ms. M did not report these actions to Ms. , her supervisor, or any executive, for fear of further actions by her colleagues. It is my understanding that the supervisors did oversee and overhear these actions but did not intervene or report to Ms. Yesterday, I learned of all of this from Ms. S after Ms. Ml turned in her resignation. I am told she left stating, “I can’t endure the abuse any longer” and immediately departed the building. I have attempted to reach her but Ms. M will not return my phone call. Since you recently completed your M.Jur. degree from University School of Law, I thought you might be the best person to review this fact pattern, initially, as we think through whether we should consult our litigation counsel further.
Write a memorandum highlighting any potential risks that you believe we may have (maximum 2,000 words) which should address the following:
1. Briefly summarize the basic facts of the underlying dispute.
2. Highlight any internal policies of Big Mike’s that you think have been violated.
2. What potential legal claims does Ms. Michael have against Big Mike’s? Feel free to perform supplemental (minimal) research to support your analysis.
3. What defenses, if any, do you think Big Mike’s might have to these claims?
4. If Ms. Michael files a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, identify what Big Mike’s should expect through that process.