Anderson, Coe & King

Newsome v. Penske

After an eight day trial and more than a day of jury deliberation, ACK obtained a defense verdict in the case of Renee Newsome v. Penske Truck Leasing Corporation. Bringing suit in the United States District Court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Ms. Newsome alleged that she had been sexually harassed and subjected to retaliation while employed at Penske’s facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland. As a result of the harassment and retaliation, Ms. Newsome contended that she was forced to resign her employment, resulting in her constructive discharge.

In February, 2002, Ms. Newsome was hired by Penske as a clerk. She testified that she was sexually harassed for the entirety of her two years and four months of employment with Penske by at least nine co-workers and supervisors. She claimed that these employees subjected her to unwanted vulgar comments and repeatedly touched her in inappropriate ways. Ms. Newsome alleged that she reported her problems to several supervisors, all of whom failed to take action. She asserted that the harassment got worse toward the end of her employment and that as she continued to complain, the company started enforcing its attendance policy more strictly, giving her several written corrective actions, including a suspension. Even after Penske commenced an investigation into Ms. Newsome’s complaints, Ms. Newsome insisted that the harassment continued, compelling her to resign her position.

Penske provided evidence that Ms. Newsome’s allegations of harassment were fabricated in response to Penske’s decision to enforce its attendance policy. Penske also presented evidence to satisfy the good faith defense, by showing that it had a sexual harassment policy and had promptly investigated Ms. Newsome’s complaints of harassment.

After hearing testimony from twenty-three witnesses, the jury concluded that none of Ms. Newsome’s co-workers or supervisors had sexually harassed her, that she was not constructively discharged, and that Penske did not retaliate against her by disciplining her for her excessive absences.

 

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