Diversity in the Workplace: Meritor Savings Bank vs. Mechelle Vinson

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Case Analysis: Meritor Savings Bank v. Mechelle Vinson
Sara Cooper
SUNY Cortland
BUS 502 Human Resource Management
Dr. Robert Young
June 20, 2010

Diversity in the workplace has continued to grow increasingly over the years with an emergence of organizations focusing on diversity management and inventiveness to not only adapt to internal and external challenges, but to also sustain a competitive advantage and maximize vital human resources. With several federal laws and guidelines that point to fairness and eliminate discrimination, organizational challenges arise in connecting these statutes with internal processes and additional diversity strategies that align with the needs of the business. This paper will introduce the sexual harassment and discrimination case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, its legal outcomes, the importance and strategies to workplace diversity, and conclude with consideration of these strategies and its linkage to and for company stakeholders.

In 1974, Michelle Vinson was hired by Sidney Taylor, the vice president and branch manager of Capital City Federal Savings and Loan Associated in Washington D.C. as a bank teller. Vinson proved to be an excellent worker and advanced via promotions on the basis of merit within four years from bank teller to assistance branch manager. (“Celebrating Women’s History,” 2010). However, at some point during her employment, Vinson took a leave of absence which the bank deemed as excessive and subsequently fired her. Feeling the dismissal was unfair, Vinson sued her employer and sought to receive injunction relief, compensatory and punitive damages (“Celebrating Women’s History,” 2010). She also sued Sidney Taylor claiming she had been sexually harassed by him for four years through coercive tactics, in order to keep her job, though she admits this was not directly verbalized by Taylor. The forms of sexual harassment Vinson claimed was Taylor’s insistence in asked her out to dinner, the proposition of sex which lead to over forty occasions of sexual relations; he fondled her in front of employees, exposed himself to her, followed her into the women’s bathroom, and raped her several times (“Meritor Savings Bank,” 2003). It was Vinson’s assertion that these behaviors exhibited by Taylor created a hostile work environment and sexual discrimination, which she cited fell under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Coming forward much sooner to report these various forms of sexual harassment, according to Vinson, was not an option mainly due to her fear of retaliation and/or losing her job. Taylor, on the other hand, held steadfast to his defense stating there was no sexual harassment involved, nor had there been sexual relations, thus having no bearings on her employment status. The bank also held the position they had no knowledge of any allegations of sexual harassment, and therefore should not be held liable, especially considering the fact that policies were in place along with an internal grievance procedure Vinson could have used but failed to use. History of Court Decision

The district court, in 1980, surmised that if there had been any sexual relations or sexual relationship between Vinson and Taylor during her length of employment, it was of voluntary nature and therefore she was not a victim of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination. In this, the district court held the position that Title VII had not been violated from the sexual harassment standpoint, and due to Meritor Savings Bank having an anti-discrimination policy and proper protocol procedures to follow to report such behaviors and Vinson failed to exercise this right, it was concluded that the bank was without knowledge of the harassment and cannot be held accountable for the assumed actions of Taylor (“Celebrating Women’s History,” 2010).

Vinson appealed the decision and...
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