760 F.Supp. 1486 (M.D.Fla. 1991), 86-927-Civ-J-12, Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc.

Docket Nº:86-927-Civ-J-12.
Citation:760 F.Supp. 1486
Party Name:Lois ROBINSON, Plaintiff, v. JACKSONVILLE SHIPYARDS, INC., et al., Defendants.
Case Date:January 18, 1991
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Middle District of Florida

Page 1486

760 F.Supp. 1486 (M.D.Fla. 1991)

Lois ROBINSON, Plaintiff,

v.

JACKSONVILLE SHIPYARDS, INC., et al., Defendants.

No. 86-927-Civ-J-12.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division.

Jan. 18, 1991

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Kathy G. Chinoy, Jacksonville, Fla., Alison Wetherfield and Sarah E. Burns, NOW Legal Defense & Educ. Fund, New York City, for plaintiff.

Eric J. Holshouser and William H. Andrews, Coffman, Coleman, Andrews & Grogan, Jacksonville, Fla., for defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

MELTON, District Judge.

This action was commenced by plaintiff Lois Robinson pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and Executive Order No. 11246, as amended. Plaintiff asserts defendants created and encouraged a sexually hostile, intimidating work environment. Her claim centers around the presence in the workplace of pictures of women in various stages of undress and in sexually suggestive or submissive poses, as well as remarks by male employees and supervisors which demean women. Defendants dispute plaintiff's description of the work environment and maintain that, to the extent the work environment may be found to satisfy the legal definition of a hostile work environment, they are not liable for the acts that give rise to such a description. Defendants further contest the Court's authority to structure a remedy in the form sought by plaintiff.

This non-jury action was tried by the Court over the course of eight days in January and February 1989, with final arguments subsequently submitted in writing. Testimony was received from various persons who were involved in the events allegedly creating the hostile work environment. The testimony of several witnesses was received in deposition form. 1 Each

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side presented two expert witnesses. Photographs and other documentary evidence were received. The Court has fully considered the believability of the testimony presented, including the credibility of witnesses, and has also carefully reviewed the photographs and other documentary evidence. Based thereon, the Court finds that certain of the defendants violated Title VII through the maintenance of a sexually hostile work environment and thereby discriminated against plaintiff because of her sex. In so holding, the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). 2 To the extent that any Findings of Fact constitute Conclusions of Law, they are adopted as such; to the extent that any Conclusions of Law constitute Findings of Fact, they are so adopted.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Parties

1. Plaintiff Lois Robinson ("Robinson") is a female employee of Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. ("JSI"). She has been a welder since September 1977. Robinson is one of a very small number of female skilled craftworkers employed by JSI. Between 1977 and the present, Robinson was promoted from third-class welder to second-class welder and from second-class welder to her present position as a first-class welder.

2. JSI is a Florida corporation that runs several shipyards engaged in the business of ship repair, including the Commercial Yard and the Mayport Yard. (The Court takes judicial notice of the closing and the reopening of the Commercial Yard operation subsequent to the trial of this case.) JSI does ship repair work for the federal government Department of the Navy. See P.Exh. No. 73 (list of Navy vessels JSI worked on during 1983-88). As a federal contractor, JSI has affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations. 6 T.T. at 80-81 (stipulation by counsel); P.Exh. No. 34.

3. Defendant Arnold McIlwain ("McIlwain") held the office of President of JSI from the time Robinson was hired by the company through the time of the trial of this case. (The Court is aware from news reports that McIlwain no longer holds this office.) In that capacity he was the highest-ranking officer at JSI; as such he had supervisory authority over Robinson throughout her employment at JSI.

4. Defendant Lawrence Brown ("Brown") has been Vice-President for Operations at JSI since 1980. During the time relevant to this case, he oversaw the operations of the Commercial Yard and the Mayport Yard and formulated policies and regulations concerning the conduct and treatment of JSI employees at these two yards. He had and has supervisory authority over Robinson.

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5. Defendant John Stewart ("Stewart") has been Industrial Relations Manager of JSI since 1981. During the time relevant to this case, he was responsible for personnel policies at all of JSI's facilities, including the Mayport Yard and the Commercial Yard, and was in charge of handling Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints filed against JSI.

6. Defendant Elmer L. Ahlwardt ("Ahlwardt") was Vice-President of the Mayport Yard from 1977 to 1988. During that time, he was the highest ranking official and principal supervisor at the Mayport Yard. (He retired from JSI in 1988.) He had supervisory authority over Robinson throughout her employment by JSI when she worked at the Mayport Yard.

7. Defendant Everette P. Owens ("Owens") was a yard superintendent at the Mayport Yard from 1973 until 1988. (He was not working at the time of the trial due to an injury.) He was responsible for managing the daily operation of the Mayport Yard; he had supervisory authority over Robinson when she worked there.

8. Defendant Ellis Lovett ("Lovett") has been shipfitters' foreman at JSI's Mayport Yard since approximately 1970. Lovett handled personnel problems in his shop, including reprimanding shipfitters at the Mayport Yard.

9. Defendant John Kiedrowski ("Kiedrowski") was promoted from first-class welder to leaderman at JSI in 1976, and since that time he has held the position of either quarterman or leaderman. Kiedrowski has exercised limited supervisory authority over Robinson and has inspected her work. Kiedrowski Depo. at 42. In January 1985 Kiedrowski was the most senior person in the welding department on the day shift at the Mayport Yard and aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga. 8 T.T. at 97.

The JSI Workplace

10. In addition to a welding department, JSI's other craft departments include shipfitting, sheetmetal, electrical, transportation, shipping and receiving (including toolroom), carpenter, boilermaker, inside machine, outside machine, rigging, quality assurance and pipe. Employees in these craft departments may be assigned to work at either the Mayport Yard, situated at the Mayport Naval Station, or the Commercial Yard, situated at a riverfront site in downtown Jacksonville and sometimes referred to as the downtown yard. Robinson's job assignments at JSI have required her to work at both the Commercial Yard and the Mayport Yard.

11. The term "shop" has two meanings at the shipyards. The various craft departments are called shops. These departments also have permanent physical locations that are called shops. A craft department may bear a nickname; for example, the shipfitters' shop is sometimes referred to as the fab shop.

12. At Mayport, the shops are housed in several large buildings in the "backyard compound." When an aircraft carrier is docked for repair, the ship gives a compound to JSI in a hangar bay in which to put trailers which serve as temporary offices for each shop or department. This shipboard compound may range from approximately 30 feet by 100 feet to 60 feet by 150 feet. The space between the trailers on either side of the compound is approximately wide enough to allow passage of a truck. Each trailer houses two temporary offices, about six feet by twelve feet in size, which may be empty, or may contain office furniture (for example, desks and bulletin boards). Workers store their equipment in the trailers and congregate there with coworkers, both to socialize and for work-related reasons.

13. Robinson's job assignments at the Mayport Yard have included "combination jobs," in which she sometimes works as a welder in combination with shipfitters. At times, Robinson has been directed by her superiors to stand in front of the shipfitters' trailer to get her assignment from the shipfitters' leaderman. When welders work with shipfitters at the Mayport Yard, it is not unusual for them to go into the shipfitters' trailer. Robinson has, for example, gone into the shipfitters' trailer to check on paperwork or her assignment.

14. Ship repair work is a dangerous profession; JSI acknowledges the need to "provide a working environment that is

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safe and healthful." Jt.Exh. No. 11, at 37 (collective bargaining agreement); see also Jt.Exh. No. 12 (JSI Safety Instructions and General Company Rules). Accidents pose a continuing risk and do happen; as defendant McIlwain noted, where individuals are working together, "one slip" could lead to someone getting hurt. McIlwain Depo. at 27. Welding, Robinson's profession, poses particular risks. See Turner Depo. at 62-65 (falling, slipping, burns, flammable gas).

15. Quartermen and leadermen at JSI are union bargaining unit employees who assign and check the work performed by craftworkers. Quartermen are below foremen in authority, but a quarterman does the foreman's job when the foreman is absent from the work area. Owens Depo. at 33-34. Leadermen are directly below quartermen in authority and look to quartermen as their immediate supervisors. 5 T.T. at 172. Leadermen often are the most senior persons in a shop in a work area. See, e.g., 7 T.T. at 128; 8 T.T. at 97. Leadermen, however, lack the authority to hire, fire, or promote other employees. 8 T.T. at 89. Leadermen cannot discipline other workers, id., although they can make recommendations to the foremen about discipline, McMillan Depo. at 137. Leadermen have no authority to...

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140 practice notes
  • Department of Education,
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 02, 2000
    • 26 Octubre 2000
    ...a high school teacher and a student was unlawful). \71\ See, e.g., McKinney, 765 F.2d at 1138-49; Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1522 (M.D. Fla. \72\ Cf. Patricia H., 830 F.Supp. at 1297. \73\ See, e.g., Barrett, 584 F.Supp. at 30 (finding harassment occurring in a ca......
  • 627 A.2d 106 (N.J. 1993), Matter of Seaman
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court of New Jersey
    • 16 Julio 1993
    ...expert testimony that reticence about complaining is common in cases of sexual harassment. See Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1506-07 (M.D.Fl.1991) (admitting and crediting consultant's testimony that women may not complain about sexual harassment because of fear, emb......
  • Harmon v. Gzk, Inc., 020802 OHCA2, 18672
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals of Ohio
    • 8 Febrero 2002
    ...thereby may exceed the sum of the individual episodes.'" Id. (quoting Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. (M.D.Fla.1991), 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1524. "Thus, 'even where individual instances of sexual harassment do not on their own create a hostile environment, the accumulated eff......
  • 106 F.Supp.2d 386 (D.Conn. 2000), 396 CV 1672, Dobrich v. General Dynamics Corp., Elec. Boat Div.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit District of Connecticut
    • 19 Julio 2000
    ...to one that is more acceptable to a female employee makes the employer responsible. See, e.g., Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F.Supp. 1486 (M.D.Fla.1991); Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., 824 F.Supp. 847 (D.Minn.1993); see also Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d at 108 (racial ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
118 cases
  • 627 A.2d 106 (N.J. 1993), Matter of Seaman
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court of New Jersey
    • 16 Julio 1993
    ...expert testimony that reticence about complaining is common in cases of sexual harassment. See Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1506-07 (M.D.Fl.1991) (admitting and crediting consultant's testimony that women may not complain about sexual harassment because of fear, emb......
  • Harmon v. Gzk, Inc., 020802 OHCA2, 18672
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals of Ohio
    • 8 Febrero 2002
    ...thereby may exceed the sum of the individual episodes.'" Id. (quoting Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. (M.D.Fla.1991), 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1524. "Thus, 'even where individual instances of sexual harassment do not on their own create a hostile environment, the accumulated eff......
  • 106 F.Supp.2d 386 (D.Conn. 2000), 396 CV 1672, Dobrich v. General Dynamics Corp., Elec. Boat Div.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit District of Connecticut
    • 19 Julio 2000
    ...to one that is more acceptable to a female employee makes the employer responsible. See, e.g., Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F.Supp. 1486 (M.D.Fla.1991); Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., 824 F.Supp. 847 (D.Minn.1993); see also Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d at 108 (racial ......
  • 952 F.2d 403 (6th Cir. 1992), 90-2290, Dillon v. Frank
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • 15 Enero 1992
    ...1010, 1013 (8th Cir.1988); Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903-05 (11th Cir.1982); Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1522 (M.D.Fla.1991). The harassment complained of must be severe and pervasive, and that is determined from the totality of the circumstance......
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21 books & journal articles
  • When is sex because of sex? The causation problem in sexual harassment law.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 150 Nbr. 6, June 2002
    • 1 Junio 2002
    ...we hope the antidiscrimination laws will protect. (1) 42 F.3d 503, 511 (9th Cir. 1994). (2) Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F. Supp. 1486, 1491 (M.D. Fla. 1991). (3) Id. at 1495; see id. at 1495-98 (listing the items creating this visual assault). (4) See id. at 1498 (detailin......
  • Disaggregating gender from sex and sexual orientation: the effeminate man in the law and feminist jurisprudence.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 105 Nbr. 1, October - October 1995
    • 1 Octubre 1995
    ...by her male co-workers "`Selastraga,' translated literally to mean `she swallows them'"); Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F. Supp. 1486, 1498-99 (M.D. Fla. 1991) (finding plaintiff sexually harassed where taunts and graffiti directed at her included "there's nothing w......
  • The central mistake of sex discrimination law: the disaggregation of sex from gender.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 144 Nbr. 1, November 1995
    • 1 Noviembre 1995
    ...than those in the "Protected Group" were similarly disadvantaged). (396) See, e.g., Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F. Supp. 1486, 1491, 1534 (M.D. Fla. 1991) (holding that a female employee of a shipyard had established a Title VII violation in the "hostile work envi......
  • Discrimination by managers and supervisors: recognizing agent liability under Title VII.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 143 Nbr. 2, December 1994
    • 1 Diciembre 1994
    ...fail to recognize that injunctive orders can be directed appropriately at agents. See, e.g., Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F. Supp. 1486, 1534 (M.D. Fla. 1991) (limiting injunctive relief to a corporate employer because the court expected two agents of the employer to comply......
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1 provisions
  • Department of Education,
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 02, 2000
    • 26 Octubre 2000
    ...a high school teacher and a student was unlawful). \71\ See, e.g., McKinney, 765 F.2d at 1138-49; Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1522 (M.D. Fla. \72\ Cf. Patricia H., 830 F.Supp. at 1297. \73\ See, e.g., Barrett, 584 F.Supp. at 30 (finding harassment occurring in a ca......