1. The United Steelworkers of America and Kaiser Aluminum entered into a master collective bargaining agreement covering terms and conditions of employment at fifteen Kaiser plants. The agreement contained an affirmative action plan designed to eliminate conspicuous racial imbalances in Kaiser’s then almost exclusively white craftwork forces. African American craft-hiring goals were set for each Kaiser plant equal to the percent-age of African Americans in the respective local labor forces. To meet these goals, on-the-job training programs were established to teach unskilled production workers—African Americans and whites—the skills necessary to become craftworkers. The plan reserved for African American employees 50 percent of the openings in these newly created in-plant training programs. Pursuant to the national agreement, Kaiser altered its craft-hiring practice in its Gramercy, Louisiana, plant by establishing a program to train its production workers to fill craft openings. Selection of craft trainees was made on the basis of seniority. At least 50 percent of the new trainees were to be African American until the percent-age of African American skilled craft workers in the Gramercy plant approximated the percentage of African Americans in the local labor force. During this affirmative action plan’s first year of operation, thirteen craft trainees (seven African American, six white) were selected from Gramercy’s productions workforce. The most senior African American selected had less seniority than several white production workers who were denied admission to the program. Does the affirmative action plan wrongfully discriminate against white employees and therefore violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Justify your decision.
2. At Whirlpool’s manufacturing plant in Ohio, overhead conveyors transported household appliance components throughout the plant. A wire mesh screen was positioned below the conveyors to catch falling components and debris. Maintenance employees frequently had to stand on the screens to clean them. Whirlpool began installing heavier wire because several employees had fallen partly through the old screens, and one had fallen completely through to the plant floor. At this time, the company warned workers to walk only on the frames beneath the wire but not on the wire itself. Before the heavier wire had been completely installed, a worker fell to his death through the old screen. A short time after this incident, Deemer and Cornwell, two plant employees, met with the plant safety director to discuss the mesh, to voice their concerns, and to obtain the name, address, and telephone number of the local Occupational Safety and Health Administration representative. The next day, the two employees refused to clean a portion of the old screen. They were then ordered to punch out for the remainder of the shift without pay and also received written reprimands, which were placed in their employment files. Does Whirlpool’s actions against Deemer and Cornwell constitute discrimination in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act? Explain.
3. John Novosel was employed by Nationwide Insurance Company for fifteen years. Novosel had been a model employee and, at the time of discharge, was a district claims manager and a candidate for the position of division claims manager. During Novosel’s fifteenth year of employment, Nationwide circulated a memorandum requesting the participation of all employees in an effort to lobby the Pennsylvania state legislature for the passage of a certain bill before the body. Novosel, who had privately indicated his disagreement with Nationwide’s political views, refused to lend his support to the lobby, and his employment with Nationwide was terminated. Novosel brought two separate claims against Nation- wide, arguing, first, that his discharge for refusing to lobby the state legislature on behalf of Nationwide constituted the tort of wrongful discharge in that it was arbitrary, malicious, and contrary to public policy. Novosel also contended that Nationwide breached an implied contract guaranteeing continued employment so long as his job performance was satisfactory. What decision as to each claim?
4. During the years prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Duke Power openly discriminated against African Americans by allowing them to work only in the labor department of the plant’s five departments. The highest-paying job in the labor department paid less than the lowest-paying jobs in the other four “operating” departments in which only whites were employed. In 1955, the company began requiring a high school education for initial assignment to any department except labor. However, when Duke Power stopped restricting African Americans to the labor department in 1965, it made completion of high school a prerequisite to transfer from labor to any other department. White employees hired before the high school education requirement was adopted continued to perform satisfactorily and to achieve promotions in the “operating” departments. In 1965, the company also began requiring new employees in the departments other than labor to register satisfactory scores on two professionally prepared aptitude tests, in addition to having a high school education. In September 1965, Duke Power began to permit employees to qualify for transfer to another department from labor by passing either of two tests, neither of which was directed or intended to measure the ability to learn to perform a particular job or category of jobs. Griggs brought suit against Duke Power, claiming that the high school education and testing requirements were discriminatory and therefore prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Is Griggs correct? Why or why not?
5. Michelle Vinson was an employee of Meritor Savings Bank for approximately four years. Beginning as a teller-trainee, she ultimately advanced to the position of assistant branch manager. Her promotions were based solely upon merit. Sidney Taylor, a vice president of the bank and manager of the branch office in which Vinson worked, was Vinson’s supervisor throughout her employment with the bank. After the bank fired Vinson for her abusive use of sick leave, Vinson brought an action against Taylor and the bank, alleging that during her employment, she had “constantly been subjected to sexual harassment” by Taylor in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vinson stated that Taylor repeatedly demanded sexual favors from her, fondled her in front of other employees, and forcibly raped her on a number of occasions. Taylor and the bank categorically denied Vinson’s allegations. Does the conduct constitute sexual harassment? Explain.
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