discussion post 657

Irene Wu is a Taiwanese national who moved to the U.S. with her family when she was a child. She is now a U.S. citizen. She earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Structural Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and she earned a Doctorate degree in Structural Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Irene was hired by Pittsburgh Structural Engineers (“PSE”) in 2013, and she has proven to be a stellar employee. Mike Tucker is PSE’s Director of the University Division of the company, which focuses on providing structural engineering services for buildings to be erected on college campuses. Irene is promoted to be an Assistant Director in that division, and she will report to Mike; she had previously worked in another division and she and Mike did not know each other. Please answer all of the following questions.

  1. At the same time as Irene’s promotion, PSE hired Andrew Green as an Assistant Director in the same division. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and no higher degrees, and he has less experience than Irene. Andrew brags to Irene about how much money he is making, and he tells her his salary. Andrew’s annual salary is $20,000 more than Irene’s salary. Irene believes that this salary differential exists because she is being discriminated against on the basis of her gender and her national origin, and she hires an attorney who tells her that she has a good case. (1) What federal statutes provide a vehicle for Irene to pursue her claims in this case? What important facts support Irene’s claim? (2) If Irene makes a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, what is the process that she must follow?
  2. Mike hears that Irene is complaining about her salary. He asks her out for a drink one Friday night on the premise of discussing her work projects in an informal setting. He has too much to drink and invites her back to his apartment so that they can get to know each other better. Irene declines, but Mike says that he can get her a big raise if she is willing to spend some personal time with him. She continues to decline. This conduct by Mike is expressly contrary to company policy even though it occurred off of the job site. Irene checks the employee handbook, which contains an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, and which instructs employees to report any claims of discrimination or harassment to his or her manager or to the Human Resources Director. Irene does not think that a report to her manager (who is Mike) would be appropriate, so she makes a formal report to the Human Resources Director on the Monday after the incident. During the next two months, Irene performs her job responsibilities well and Mike periodically asks Irene for a date and indicates that dating him will help her professionally and lead to a salary increase. Irene declines each time and tells the Human Resources Director about each of the additional requests by Mike. Neither the Human Resources Director nor anyone else at PSE conducted an investigation because Mike was the CEO’s nephew and deemed to be “off limits,” and Mike was never disciplined. After being rejected by Irene so many times, Mike fires her on the alleged basis that her work performance was poor even though her past employee evaluations contained ratings of “above average” and “excellent.” (1) What facts support a potential claim by Irene against Mike and/or PSE under Title VII? Please include in your response whether there is potential liability on Mike, PSE or both, and why or why not. (2) Assuming that Irene has a valid claim against Mike and/or PSE, what damages would she be entitled to recover?
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