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Female electrician loses gender discrimination claim

Gail Wrobel, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electriclal Workers,  sued Hydaker-Wheatlake Co., when it refused to employer her for electical work, even though she was the Local 17's individual who stood highest on the rank order out-of-work availability list.  The Defendant argued that it was not obligated to take the first rank-ordered electrician because it had the right to designate a particular electrician from the list.  Wrobel argued that in conspiracy with certain male members of the Local, the defendant was designating lower-ranked individuals so that it could avoid hiring a woman.

The case went to the jury, where the defense attorney was allowed to bring up a prior claim of discrimination that Wrobel had raised against the Local, despite the trial judge's standing order excluding any such evidence.  The jury found against Wrobel, and the Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.  

The Court of Appeals  appears to have ruled that the Defense attorney had devised a strategy about damages that allowed her to skirt the trial judge's ruling.  It also held that Wrobel presented only undocumented speculation regarding a conspiracy to discriminate. It also rejected Wrobel's objections to the attorneys fees awarded to the company against her as "sanctions."  The Court did not identify the total amount of the fee award, but sanctioned fees of between $330 and $350 per hour.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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