Court reinstates Boeing sex discrimination case

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Two female engineers who sued Boeing for gender discrimination had their lawsuit reinstated by an appeals court that ruled yesterday that they had adequate evidence to bring the case to trial.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought the appeal on behalf of Antonia Castron and Renee Wrede, who contend that they were fired after complaining of sexual harassment in separate male-dominated work environments.
Castron also brought a retaliation claim against the aerospace company, which won the case at the trial court level on summary judgment, Reuters reports.
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled reversed the trial court ruling and remanded the case for trial, concluding that a jury could find that Boeing had manipulated the women’s performance evaluations in order to terminate them.
The decision was rendered earlier this year but was published last week, both sides said.
EEOC Assistant General Counsel Carolyn Wheeler said the decision raises important legal points, including the idea that “stray remarks” of a demeaning nature could be proof of discrimination, and that an employee could be subject to bias even when fired by the same person who hired her.
A Boeing spokesperson said the company was confident in its case was strong and would let a jury decide its merits.
The appeals court found that “demeaning and derogatory comments” made by Castron’s supervisor about women in general, along with his interactions with her, could provide enough evidence to convince a jury of “discriminatory motive” even if the comments weren’t directed at her, the opinion said.
In Wrede’s case, Boeing substantiated her sexual harassment claim but a year later, her manager gave her lower scores on a performance evaluation than others in her section, the opinion said.
She was subsequently fired even after several other managers requested that she be transferred to their departments, a fact that could lead a jury to find that the low performance score was “not credible,” the appeals court said.

Pic: Boeing logo