Krahel v. Owens-Brockway Glass Container, Inc., Civil No. 96-1280-AS.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
Citation971 F.Supp. 440
Decision Date13 March 1997
Docket NumberCivil No. 96-1280-AS.
PartiesCharla J. KRAHEL, Plaintiff, v. OWENS-BROCKWAY GLASS CONTAINER, INC., a Delaware corporation, and a division of Owens-Illinois, Inc.; Owens-Illinois, Inc., a Delaware corporation; Local 3112 Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers Union; Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers International Union, Defendants.
971 F.Supp. 440
Charla J. KRAHEL, Plaintiff,
OWENS-BROCKWAY GLASS CONTAINER, INC., a Delaware corporation, and a division of Owens-Illinois, Inc.; Owens-Illinois, Inc., a Delaware corporation; Local 3112 Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers Union; Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers International Union, Defendants.
Civil No. 96-1280-AS.
United States District Court, D. Oregon.
March 13, 1997.

Page 441


Page 442

Judy Danelle Snyder, Cynthia Halse Stutsman, Hoevet & Snyder PC, Portland, OR, for Charla J. Krahel.

Christine Kitchel, Stoel Rives, Portland, OR, Lee Ann Huntington, Stephen M. Hankins, Morgenstein & Jubelirer, San Francisco, CA, for Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc., Owens Illinois Inc.

Gene B. Mechanic, Goldberg Mechanic & Stuart, Portland, OR, Carl S. Yaller, Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers Int'l Union, Media, PA, for Local # 12 Glass Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Union, Glass, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int'l Union.


ASHMANSKAS, United States Magistrate Judge:

Plaintiff Charla Krahel brings this action against defendants Owens-Brockway Glass Container, Inc., and its parent Owens-Illinois, Inc. (collectively "Owens"), and against Local 112 of the Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers Union ("Local 112") and its parent Glass Molders Pottery Plastics & Allied Workers International Union (collectively "Union").

Owens has moved to dismiss (or in the alternative to stay) the action on grounds the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") between Owens and the Union contains a mandatory grievance and arbitration procedure. Owens has also moved to dismiss all claims against the parent Owens-Illinois for failure to state a claim, to strike the claims for damages in excess of the cap established by the 1991 Civil Rights Act and to dismiss the sixth claim for negligence. Plaintiff has conceded the motion to dismiss the negligence claim, so I will not address it further.


I acknowledge that the parties have very different versions of the facts in this case and the inferences to be drawn from those facts. For purposes of these motions, however, the factual allegations of the complaint are generally presumed to be true and plaintiff is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences from those facts.1 Plaintiff is an employee of defendant Owens-Brockway Glass. Plaintiff is also a member of defendant Local 112, which represents certain employees of Owens. There is a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between the Union and Owens. Plaintiff was employed by Owens for over five years as a carton assembler and bulk pack operator. In September 1989, plaintiff applied for an apprentice electrician position with Owens. There were 36 applicants for the position. Plaintiff was the only female applicant. Plaintiff scored higher than all other applicants on the qualifying test, but she was not selected for the apprentice electrician position. Instead, the position was offered to Phil Huddleston. Mr. Huddleston is now Vice-President of Local 112, though it is unclear from the pleadings whether he also held that position in September 1989. The selection committee was composed of three members of Local 112 and three members of the Owens' management team. Plaintiff was designated as the runner-up. When Huddleston was unable to accept the position for personal reasons, plaintiff was awarded the apprenticeship by default.

Plaintiff was scheduled to take her state electrician's examination in November 1993. In October 1993, Local 112 agent Dan Benson and Owens' plant manager Mark Recker sought to dissuade plaintiff from taking the examination as scheduled. They told plaintiff they didn't believe she was ready to take

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the exam and advised her to extend her apprenticeship for another six months. Plaintiff discussed the matter with a representative of the state licensing agency, who advised her that the apprenticeship could not be extended without approval by the agency and that plaintiff would be dropped from the apprenticeship program unless she sat for the November examination. Plaintiff took and passed the November 1993 examination.

After passing the examination, plaintiff applied for a day shift position. Plant manager Recker told plaintiff's supervisor that plaintiff "will never see straight days." Male employees with lesser seniority were assigned to the day shift, but plaintiff was not permitted to work the day shift during Recker's tenure as plant manager. Recker was reassigned to a different Owens facility in April 1995, after which plaintiff was allowed to work the day shift.

For more than six years — beginning around the time she was awarded the apprenticeship position and continuing through the date the complaint was filed — plaintiff was ostracized by the male employees, most or all of whom were members of Local 112. They refused to sit near her in the breakroom and joked about that behavior. Plaintiff repeatedly was told that the male employees did not like her and did not want to work with her. A nude centerfold of a woman was posted in Owens' shop area with plaintiff's name written across the breast. An obscene drawing of a woman was found in the men's restroom at Owens with plaintiff's name written by the picture. Plaintiff was told that she was a "birth defect" and referred to as that "fucking cunt."

The male journeymen who supervised plaintiff deliberately placed her in the dirtiest jobs and joked about making sure plaintiff got dirty. She was told, "You won't last a month", "You won't want to get dirty", and "You'll be afraid of breaking your nails." Some of the male employees, including an agent of Local 112, told plaintiff that she was incompetent and that all she did was sit in the office on her ass. A journeyman mechanic, who is a member of Local 112, told plaintiff "There ain't no damn female who is ever going to be [my] equal."

According to the complaint, the discriminatory treatment did not subside with the passage of time, but instead persisted. In April 1996, a drawing was posted in plaintiff's work area depicting plaintiff and her sister, whom she had been training, with the caption "the dumb training the stupid." Derogatory comments about plaintiff were written on machines where she works. Plaintiff believes that some of her equipment was sabotaged to make it appear that she was not competently performing her job.

In March 1996, Swede Lindholm, President of Local 112, stated that plaintiff did not know what her license entailed. Around the same time, another Local 112 agent commented that plaintiff was unable to perform her job duties without one of the men "holding [plaintiff's] hand." A Local 112 agent told a new employee whom plaintiff was assigned to train that "it must be a real put-down to be trained by a woman." Plaintiff's welding skills were criticized and it was proposed that she be required to become a certified welder. No similar requirement has been imposed upon any male electrician at this Owens facility.

On numerous occasions between 1990 and 1996 plaintiff complained to her supervisors and crew leaders about the manner in which she was being treated, but was told that there was nothing Owens could do about the situation.2 In March 1996, when plaintiff complained about being called a "fucking cunt," plaintiff's supervisor took her complaint to Local 112's president, Swede Lindholm, and vice-president, Phil Huddleston. Their response was to criticize plaintiff's job performance.

In April 1996, plaintiff filed a complaint against Owens with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ("BOLI") and the EEOC, alleging sexual harassment and unlawful employment practices. In May 1996, plaintiff passed the Owens' management profile

Page 444

test and applied for a management position for which she was qualified. The position was given to a male employee from outside Owens' Portland facility. In June 1996, plaintiff and five male employees at Owens' Portland facility were selected for a journeyman training program. The following week, there was an unsuccessful attempt to mediate plaintiff's claims against Owens. The EEOC and BOLI both issued "right to sue" letters. One week later, plaintiff was informed by Owens that she could not participate in the training program. Plaintiff subsequently filed additional complaints against Local 112 and Owens with BOLI and the EEOC, and received "right to sue" letters.

Plaintiff has asserted claims against Owens and the Union for violation of Title VII and ORS 659.030(1)(b). These claims appear to be premised on a hostile work environment theory. Plaintiff also has asserted state and federal law claims against Owens for unlawful retaliation (after she filed her Title VII claim with BOLI and EEOC). Finally, plaintiff has asserted claims against all defendants for "negligence" in failing to train its personnel concerning compliance with laws and regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.3

Mandatory Arbitration and Grievance Procedure

The Owens defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims on grounds the collective bargaining agreement between Owens and the Union establishes a mandatory grievance procedure, which culminates in binding arbitration, for resolving all disputes. Owens cites the following language in Article 32 of the CBA:

Section 1. The Company and the Union will comply with all laws preventing discrimination against any employee because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or veteran status.

Section 2. This Contract will be administered in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Before taking action relevant to this Section, the Company will meet with the Local Union, and both parties will have sufficient opportunity to express their opinions regarding an anticipated action.


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