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Munday v. Waste Management Of North America

September 11, 1997

DAWN F. MUNDAY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

WASTE MANAGEMENT OF NORTH AMERICA, INCORPORATED; WASTE MANAGEMENT OF MARYLAND, INCORPORATED, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. Frank A. Kaufman, Senior District Judge. (CA-92-467-K)

Before WIDENER and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and HEANEY, Senior Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, sitting by designation.

WIDENER, Circuit Judge

Argued: May 3, 1995

No. 94-2192 affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, and No. 94-2193 dismissed as moot by published opinion. Judge Widener wrote the opinion, in which Judge Williams concurred. Senior Judge Heaney wrote a concurring and dissenting opinion.

OPINION

Defendants Waste Management of North America, Inc. and Waste Management of Maryland, Inc. (collectively, Waste Management) appeal from an adverse judgment of the district court, sitting without a jury, on claims of retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 2000e-3(a), and breach of contract brought by plaintiff Dawn Munday. Miss Munday cross-appeals from the district court's conclusions that she could not recover compensatory or punitive damages for defendants' conduct occurring prior to the effective date of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and that the Title VII remedies awarded in this case preclude additional recovery for breach of contract under Maryland law. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

The facts of this case are set forth in the opinion of the district court, Munday v. Waste Management of North America, Inc., 858 F. Supp. 1364 (D. Md. 1994), and because the parties chose not to transcribe the proceedings below, those facts are undisputed. *fn1 Briefly, those facts are as follows. Miss Munday began working for Waste Management of Maryland in December 1986. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1367. After a transfer to Waste Management of Greater Washington, Miss Munday resigned and was rehired as a truck driver by Waste Management of Maryland in August 1988. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1367. She was subjected to a number of instances of sexual harassment. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1367-68. On May 30, 1989, after Miss Munday walked off the job because of her dissatisfaction with the truck with which she was provided for the day, she was properly fired for insubordination. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1368.

Miss Munday then filed a claim of sexual harassment and sex discrimination with the Howard County, Maryland Office of Human Rights, which issued a reasonable-cause letter. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369. A hearing was commenced, but on April 19, 1991, the parties settled the dispute. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369, 1375. In the settlement agreement, Waste Management agreed, among other things, to expunge Miss Munday's termination, to reinstate Miss Munday, and not to retaliate against her for filing the complaint in the Office of Human Rights. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369.

Prior to Miss Munday's agreed return to work, Waste Management of Maryland held a safety meeting at which the employees were told not to sexually harass Miss Munday. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369. Robert Bohager, General Manager of the Maryland facility, Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1367, also told the employees not to socialize with Munday and to avoid her as much as possible. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369.

When Miss Munday returned to work, on July 8, 1991, Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369, Waste Management had failed to take several measures necessary to prepare for her return, although these measures were taken thereafter. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1369. Other employees refused to talk with her, and she was told that Bohager and another manager, Heider, had instructed the employees to ignore her and to report back to Bohager anything she said to other employees. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370.

On July 26, 1991, Heider informed Miss Munday that Bohager had told the employees not to talk to Miss Munday and that Bohager wanted to get rid of Munday. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370. Later that day, at a scheduled meeting attended by Munday, Bohager, and Chad Johnson, Waste Management of Maryland's Operations Manager, to address Miss Munday's complaints, Bohager yelled at Munday because he had heard a rumor that she planned to sue the company again. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370. Munday denied this and attempted to address her concerns, but Bohager stated, colorfully, that he did not care about her problems. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370.

From August 1991 to September 1992, Miss Munday worked intermittently for Waste Management due to several periods of disability leave. See Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370-71. During this time, while she was working, Miss Munday continued to be ignored by her coworkers, was assigned a route other than one she requested, and was subjected to a number of work-related unpleasantries of which she complained and which were adequately investigated and addressed by Waste Management. See Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1370-71.

On September 29, 1992, Miss Munday was placed on disability leave following "so-called panic attacks while driving her route." Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1371. She began a new job in October 1992 although she did not resign from Waste Management until December 7, 1992. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1371.

The district court, sitting without a jury, found that Miss Munday had not made out a prima facie case of sexual harassment or sex discrimination. Munday, 858 F. Supp. at 1374. *fn2 The district court found for Miss Munday, however, on her claim that Waste Management, through Bohager, retaliated against her for filing her claim with the Office of Human Rights, in violation of Title VII, and breached a provision of the settlement agreement which provided that Waste Management, "`agrees that there shall be no discrimination or retaliation of any kind against any person because of lawful opposition to any practice declared unlawful under . . . Title VII, or because of the filing of a charge, giving of testimony or assistance, or ...


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