Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion / Employment — sex discrimination – retaliation — jury instructions

Employment — sex discrimination – retaliation — jury instructions

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Employment — sex discrimination – retaliation — jury instructions

In a claim alleging sex discrimination and retaliation, it was error to instruct the jury limiting the “decisionmaker” to one person.

“The plaintiff claimed that Spann had fired her because she was a woman and in retaliation for her complaining about his sexually offensive behavior and his discrimination in favor of his male subordinates. The defendant claimed that she had not been fired, but instead had been offered a transfer and had not responded to the offer and had quit when Spann told her to clean out her locker and turn in her keys, whereas if she had wanted to continue working she would have complained to Colburne, who had told her she wasn’t being fired, and she would have accepted the offered transfer. The jury had to choose between these competing narratives. All the judge had to do was tell the jury that. The jury’s note should have alerted him that the jurors were in all likelihood seriously confused.”

“The instruction and verdict form were unsound, as was the judge’s response to the jurors’ inquiry, and the errors were not harmless because a properly instructed jury might well have found in the plaintiff’s favor.”

Reversed and Remanded.

11-2502 Cook v. IPC International Corp.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Murphy, J., Posner, J.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *