Posted: September 16th, 2022
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Tom, a male employee, approached HR, stating he was concerned for his safety and the safety of the other employees in his unit. Tom explained that on his assembly line, there was bad blood between two female employees. Tina & Louise argued all day long in front of the other employees. Tina had made a comment several times that one day Louise was going to piss her off enough that she would blow her stuff/ass away. Tom stated that Tina was carrying a chrome 9-mm pistol in her jacket pocket in the workplace. When asked how Tom knew this, he stated that Tina showed him the pistol earlier in the day. Tom was concerned that if Tina pulled the gun out to shoot Louise, would she stop there or possibly shoot others.
You, as the Human Resources Director, contacted the local police, explained the situation to them, and asked for a police presence when confronting Tina in the work area. The police arrived with a female and male officer. Along with the HR Director, they entered the work area where Tina and Louise worked, noticed Tina’s jacket hanging on the back of the chair. The HR Director approached the worktable asking everyone with the exception of Tina to leave. The HR Director asked Tina if she was carrying a weapon. Tina indicated she was. The female officer instructed Tina to place her hands clearly visible on the table and to stand up while she pulled the chair back from her. The officer asked Tina which pocket was the gun. Tina indicated in the right pocket. While the female officer placed her hands-on Tina, the male office reached in Tina’s right coat pocket and retrieved a chrome-plated 9-mm handgun.
The officer took the gun to another table and proceeded to unarm the gun. The officer stated the gun had a full magazine, a bullet in the chamber and that the safety lock was off. He said the gun was ready to be fired.
Tina was arrested by local police for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon with intent to commit harm.
The employer terminated Tina for violation of Company Policy; possession of a weapon on company property.
The employer had a clear policy stating it was against company policy to have weapons on company property. The company had posted signs at its entrance gates stating that weapons were not permitted on company property.
Later, Tina filed suit in the district court, claiming Sex Discrimination in the workplace.
Tina alleged that during dove season and/or deer season, it was a known fact that many male employees brought their shotguns and/or rifles onto company property so they could head out to their lease’s right after work.
Tina alleged that the shotguns and/or rifles were clearly visible in some vehicles (pick-up trucks) as they were placed in the rifle racks.
Tina also alleged that some male employees even purchased shotguns and/or rifles from each other on company property during their lunch break or after work hours in the company parking lot.
Tina alleged that senior management at her direct site was well aware of this practice and that some immediate supervisors participated in the behavior as well.
Tina named the male employees and supervisors who often brought their shotguns and/or rifles to work.
As HR director: How would you have handled this situation in the beginning? Does Tina have a valid claim for sex discrimination in her termination?
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