A court ruling that a Maryland waste removal company drove a truck driver from her job after she accused the firm of sexual harassment was overturned by a federal appeals court.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Waste Management of North America and its subsidiary, Waste Management of Maryland, did not force Dawn F. Munday to resign.
While the court agreed that a supervisor at Waste Management produced a hostile working environment for Munday by telling other workers to ignore her and spy on her, it did not find that the company violated federal law.
Munday did not resign until 17 months after the retaliation began, the judges noted.
But Judge Gerald Heaney disagreed with his colleagues, saying that U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufman had ruled correctly that Waste Management violated federal employment law and forced her out by making her work environment “intolerable.”
Munday was subjected to various instances of sexual harassment at Waste Management’s Howard County operation, according to court papers.
After walking off the job in 1989, and subsequently being fired, she filed a claim of sexual harassment and sex discrimination with the Howard County Office of Human Rights. After the start of the hearings in 1991, both parties agreed to settle the dispute.
As part of the agreement, there was to be no retaliation for her filing the complaint. She was rehired, but later quit and sued the company, charging that company officials retaliated against her for filing the original harassment claim.
In finding for Munday, the lower court ruled that the company violated both the settlement agreement and federal law.
But the appellate court, while agreeing that the settlement was violated, said Waste Management’s conduct did not violate the federal statute.
With the case sent back to District Court, that court now has to determine the extent of Munday’s damages that stem from Waste Management’s violation of the settlement agreement.
Munday’s attorney Harold R. Weisbaum said he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Ann L. Lamdin, an attorney for Waste Management, declined comment.