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FAIR v. GUIDING EYES FOR THE BLIND

July 24, 1990

KIMBERLEY JOAN FAIR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GUIDING EYES FOR THE BLIND, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goettel, District Judge.

OPINION

This employment discrimination case was commenced by the plaintiff pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment. The defendant has moved for summary judgment.

I. FACTS

The plaintiff, Kimberley Joan Fair, is the former Associate Director of Admissions for the defendant corporation Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Inc. Guiding Eyes is a nonprofit corporation with more than a dozen employees whose chief purpose is to train and educate persons in the use of guide dogs.

The plaintiff was hired effective June 15, 1987, by Martin A. Yablonski, Executive Director of Guiding Eyes. During the first six months at Guiding Eyes all new employees participate in a probationary period during which time they may be released unconditionally. The plaintiff's job responsibilities varied, ranging from recruitment and admission of students to serving as the assistant to the Executive Director. The plaintiff earned an annual salary of $28,000. Much of the plaintiff's job required that she work closely with Mr. Yablonski. Although the plaintiff and Mr. Yablonski worked well together at the start, their relationship, according to the plaintiff, rapidly deteriorated ultimately giving rise to the instant sexual harassment action.*fn1

The plaintiff's sexual harassment claim stems from many conversations she had with Mr. Yablonski. The plaintiff contends that Mr. Yablonski repeatedly spoke to her about his alleged homosexuality*fn2 and tried to draw her into conversation on the topic of sexual preference as early as her first day of work. Because the nature of these conversations is germane to the plaintiff's action and this motion, we will delineate them here. The following are the alleged incidents which the plaintiff contends constitute sexual harassment:

  * On June 14, 1987, the plaintiff's first day of
    work at Guiding Eyes, Mr. Yablonski and
    plaintiff were at a work-related golf course
    function. Mr. Yablonski referred to a man as a
    "bitch" and said that the man had the gall to
    have sexual relations with a certain woman.
  * The next day he told the plaintiff that he hated
    another man's former wife because she knew too
    many of her ex-husband's secrets.
  * Also that day, Mr. Yablonski challenged the
    plaintiff's support for the Pope because of his
    views on abortion and homosexuality.
  * A couple of days later, Mr. Yablonski made
    belittling comments about a man dressed in
    pastel pants and discussed the apparent
    significance of a man having a pierced ear as
    denoting his homosexuality.
  * Around June 18, 1989, while the plaintiff and
    Mr. Yablonski were watching a slide
    demonstration on blindness in the Third World,
    Mr. Yablonski remarked that a sexually
    transmitted disease caused blindness.
  * About mid-July, Mr. Yablonski told the plaintiff
    that she should not drink Minute Maid orange
    juice because of the anti-homosexual remarks
    made by Anita Bryant, a former spokesperson for
    the brand, over a decade ago.
  * Mr. Yablonski revealed to the plaintiff that he
    had seen a psychiatrist who had told him he
    would never have a meaningful relationship.
  * On August 22, 1987, Mr. Yablonski remarked that
    all the women present at a meeting were "looking
    at [a certain man at the meeting] and
    salivating, thinking about all that slurpy sex!"
    To which the plaintiff ...

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