Judge: Love is loser in nonfraternization policy

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Although the United Parcel Service Inc. came out as winners in a discrimination case in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, love and marriage were deemed the losers by the appellate judges.

In Gerald C. Ellis v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 07-2811, Ellis filed a discrimination claim against UPS after he was fired for fraternizing with a fellow employee. Ellis, a manager who is African-American, claimed he was fired after his supervisors discovered he was dating and eventually married a white woman who worked in UPS' phone center.

UPS has a strict nonfraternization policy, which forbids managers from having a romantic relationship with any hourly employee.

Despite this policy, Judge Terence Evans noted many employees dated each other and love must have been in the air at UPS because Ellis and Glenda Greathouse started dating and married after four years. They kept their relationship a secret from the company, but eventually Ellis' direct supervisor Angela Wade, who is African-American, learned about their relationship. Wade reported the relationship, and Ellis met with human resources manager Kenny Walker, also African-American. Walker explained the nonfraternization policy to Ellis and said the two would have to break up or one would have to quit.

Ellis didn't end the relationship and the two married a little more than a year later. Later, the company discovered Ellis did not break up with Greathouse, and Walker fired Ellis for violating the policy and for dishonesty after he refused to resign.

In his appeal, Ellis didn't present evidence to show he was fired for having an interracial relationship with another employee, wrote Judge Evans. The evidence he produced of multiple intraracial relationships being treated more favorably were not subject to the same decision makers as Ellis when they allegedly violated company policy by fraternizing. His failure to establish that any other similarly situated manager in an intraracial relationship was treated more favorably doomed his discrimination claim, the judge wrote.

Judge Evans emphasized the court's decision to affirm summary judgment in favor of UPS shouldn't be construed as an endorsement of the nonfraternization policy at UPS. The judge went on to note that these days, more and more people are meeting significant others at work because that is where they spend most of their time. Also, Ellis was a good employee and had a long work history with UPS, and that he met his future wife while at work makes for a fairly nice story, he wrote.

"Although UPS, for the reasons we have stated, comes out on top in this case, love and marriage are the losers. Something just doesn't seem quite right about that," Judge Evans wrote.

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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well