Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rumors of Sexual Activity: Title VII -- No; Defamation -- Yes

In reviewing some of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland opinions, I came across Bystry v. Verizon Services Corp., CCB-04-01 (March 31, 2005). There, an internal security employee's statements that Ms. Bystry was involved in a sexual relationship with a co-worker led to her termination. Ms. Bystry claimed the statements evidenced gender discrimination and were defamatory.

Judge Blake granted Verizon's motion for summary judgment on Ms. Bystry's gender discrimination claim. The Court held that the rumors of Ms. Bystry's sexual activities were not based on her gender. "[D]iscrimination based solely on sexual activity or rumors of sexual activity is insufficient."

As for defamation, Judge Blake found sufficient evidence that Verizon employees spread the rumors intentionally or recklessly. The security employee who made the statements claimed she got her information from other Verizon employees. However, these other employees specifically denied they ever made statements about Ms. Bystry's sexual activities.

James Rubin

These materials have been prepared by The Rubin Employment Law Firm, P.C. for information purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the sender and receiver. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

No comments: