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Burns v. McGregor Electronic Industries, Inc.

955 F.2d 559 (1992)

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Burns v. McGregor Electronic Industries, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

955 F.2d 559 (1992)

Facts

Lisa Burns (plaintiff) worked at McGregor Industries, Inc. (McGregor) (defendant), a stereo-speaker manufacturer. Ludvik, Burns’s manager-trainee, made sexual comments about Burns including asking if she was “playing with herself” in the bathroom and trying to convince Burns to date male supervisors. Burns complained to management, but nothing changed. Oslac, McGregor’s owner, showed Burns advertisements for pornographic movies, talked about sex, asked her to watch pornographic movies with him, and made lewd gestures, including imitating masturbation. Oslac asked Burns out for dates at least once a week, which she refused. Burns became very nervous and upset and voluntarily left McGregor in August 1981. In September 1981, Burns returned to McGregor because she needed work. Oslac continued to ask Burns out on dates and for oral sex. Ludvik circulated a petition to have Burns fired because of nude photographs of Burns, which Burns’s father had taken with Burns’s consent, from a motorcycle magazine. Oslac continued to try to date Burns, telling her that her coworkers were against her and he might comply with their demands. Burns was humiliated and quit in June 1983. Burns returned to McGregor in September 1983 because she needed work. Again, Oslac visited Burns and asked her out on dates to watch pornographic films. In July 1984, Eugene Ottaway, Burns’s coworker, refused Burns’s request that he move a stack of speakers. Burns reported this to a supervisor, who told Ottaway to comply. Ottaway called Burns vulgar names while he moved the stack and placed the speakers out of Burns’s reach. Burns asked Ottaway to lower the stacks, and Ottaway threw the speaker across the room. The supervisor did nothing, and Burns left, quitting for the final time. Burns sued McGregor, alleging constructive discharge. The court found the primary reason Burns quit was the interaction with Ottaway. The court also found that the sexual harassment Burns experienced peaked during her second period of employment and that Oslo had made unwelcome advances during her first two employment periods. However, the court concluded that Burns failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the sexual harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wollman, J.)

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