170 F.3d 1056 (11th Cir. 1999), 98-4080, Sullivan v. National R.R. Passenger Corp.

Docket Nº:98-4080.
Citation:170 F.3d 1056
Party Name:Barry T. SULLIVAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, a foreign corporation, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 25, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1056

170 F.3d 1056 (11th Cir. 1999)

Barry T. SULLIVAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, a foreign

corporation, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 98-4080.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

March 25, 1999

Page 1057

Mark S. Landman, William Ballaine, Landman, Corsi, Ballaine & Ford, P.C., New York City, Bradley S. Fischer, Melito & Adolfsen, Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Defendant-Appellant.

Susan Leslie Dolin, Daniel R. Levine, Muchnick, Wasserman & Dolin, Hollywood, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before COX and BARKETT, Circuit Judges, and FAY, Senior Circuit Judge.

BARKETT, Circuit Judge:

National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") appeals a final judgment following a jury verdict in favor of Barry T. Sullivan on his claim of unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq. ("Title VII"), the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a) and the Florida Whistleblower's Protection Act, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 448.102(3) (West 1998). Amtrak argues that the district court should have granted its motion for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial. We reverse.

Background

In 1995, Barry Sullivan sued Amtrak, claiming that he was the victim of sexual harassment and retaliation stemming from an incident in December 1993 when Sullivan's immediate supervisor, Kevin Scott, allegedly sexually propositioned him in a hotel parking garage. Sullivan claims that the incident occurred while the two were traveling on business and staying at a hotel in Tampa, Florida. According to Sullivan, when Sullivan accompanied Scott to the hotel parking garage to retrieve Scott's briefcase from the car, Scott suggested that Sullivan accompany him to Scott's room for a short while, and that Sullivan would not regret it. Sullivan claimed he slammed Scott to the trunk of the car, causing Scott to lose his glasses. As Scott retrieved his glasses from the ground, he apologized profusely to Sullivan, asking him to forget about the incident and assuring him that it would not happen again. According to Sullivan, Scott further assured him that he would have nothing to worry about for as long as the two continued to work together. Sullivan did not report this incident to anyone at Amtrak until February 1994, after he had been demoted from his job as manager.

Sullivan's demotion occurred on January 26, 1994, when Scott hand-delivered a letter to Sullivan informing him that his management job as District Manager of the Miami Station had been eliminated as part of Amtrak's nationwide reorganization. This led to Sullivan's taking the non-managerial position of Yard Chief of the Miami Station. On February 11, 1994, Amtrak began an investigation into the whereabouts of fifteen missing Publix gift certificates as well as a cellular phone that had been in Sullivan's care.

Page 1058

Shortly thereafter, Sullivan returned eight of the gift certificates and the phone. He could not account for the missing eight certificates, which were cashed at a grocery store near his home. He also admitted to making, along with his wife, over one thousand dollars worth of unauthorized calls on the company phone. Amtrak took no formal action against Sullivan regarding either the phone or the gift certificates.

On approximately February 15, 1994, Sullivan's attorney lodged a complaint with Amtrak on Sullivan's behalf, claiming that the incident with Scott in December 1993 constituted sexual harassment. Amtrak officials investigated the complaint and concluded that the incident had not in fact occurred. In June 1994, Sullivan's work schedule was changed from four to five days a week. Amtrak claims that this change was necessary to satisfy a Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") regulation that all inbound trains be inspected and cleaned upon arrival. In July 1994, Amtrak eliminated all Yard Chief positions nationwide. Sullivan then took the lesser position of Chief of On Board Service. Throughout 1995, Sullivan unsuccessfully applied for a number of different management positions including: Director of OBS Station Support (January 1995); Product Line Director (March 1995); Manager of Terminal Services, Miami (March 1995); Manager of Terminal Services, New Orleans (May 1995); Conventional Services Manager, Northeast Corridor (April 1995).

Sullivan filed suit against Amtrak in February 1995, claiming that the incident with Scott in December 1994 constituted sexual harassment. Sullivan amended his complaint in June 1995 to include charges that Amtrak had...

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