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TUNIS v. CORNING GLASS WORKS

August 6, 1990

CATHERINE S. TUNIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORNING GLASS WORKS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert L. Carter, District Judge.

  I.

Morning production meetings were held daily. It was Tunis' job to identify quality defects in the tubing where the glass was being formed and to give her findings at the morning meetings as to the cause of the flaws she discovered. To accomplish this assignment Tunis had to mark the defects, take samples and examine them under a microscope in an attempt to determine the cause of the problem. During her training period she performed these tasks under the supervision of Dennis Kauser, her immediate supervisor. After completion of her training in May, she was expected from June onward to perform the defect analysis function on her own.

The morning meetings focused around correcting the problems which had been found. From time to time, after her training period ended, Tunis was not prepared to give a full report about all the defects in the tubing. On occasion she was unprepared to give an analysis of the defects she had found, or she had not completed the required investigation of the contents of all the operating tubing.

On or about April 15, Tunis complained to Charles Francik, plant manager, about photographs of naked or nearly naked women in sexually suggestive poses displayed on the walls along the passage-way she used in going to the glass laboratory and mix house. She told Francik that she had discussed the matter with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") officials and had been assured that such displays were in violation of the law banning sex discrimination in the work-place. Francik advised Tunis that public displays of the sort she described were at odds with company policy and that he would have the photographs removed.

Francik then made an immediate tour of the area Tunis would walk through, and the next morning he went through the entire plant. He found pinup photographs in the mix house, on the door of the paint shop and in the teaser shanty — the trades area where employees involved in maintenance and construction worked. Francik ordered Carlo Merletti, department head of the trades area, to remove the material and to make a tour of the area to look for any such material he might have missed.

On or about April 23, Tunis again complained that offensive photographs were still on display. Francik sent Merletti to look for the display, but Merletti reported he could find nothing. Francik then had Merletti accompany Tunis to locate the material. It turned out to be a postcard on the inside cover of the tool box of one of the maintenance employees. It was ordered removed. Thereafter, Tunis made no further complaints to Francik about any pinup displays.

Going with Merletti to locate the postcard exposed Tunis as the individual who caused the removal of the photographs. Thereafter, on trips to the glass laboratory and mix house, she was greeted with whistles, catcalls and grunts. On one occasion two hourly employees remarked in her presence in sufficient volume for her to hear that she was okay but they could not tell about her legs because she always wore pants. She told them "to fuck off."

When Tunis complained to Francik about being whistled at in the trades area, he personally went to the area to speak to the union representative and several other supervisors and employees he regarded as influential. He explained to them that he did not want such activity to continue, that it was inappropriate, that he specifically disapproved of such conduct, and he asked for their cooperation in having it stopped. He heard no further complaints from Tunis about being whistled at.

Tunis also complained to Jack Stumpf, plant manufacturing engineer and the immediate supervisor of Kauser, who was Tunis' immediate superior, about the whistling. Stumpf spoke to the union steward of the trades group and asked him to speak to the group and indicate that such conduct was inappropriate. He asked the steward to identify anyone he knew who might be doing the whistling so that Stumpf could speak to them directly.

Tunis complained subsequently that she was still being whistled at. Stumpf convened a meeting in his office with Tunis, Merletti and Art Mayo, the union committeeman. Tunis told them about the catcalls and whistles, and Stumpf indicated that such conduct was unprofessional and inappropriate in a business climate. Tunis stated that those responsible should be discharged. She could not, however, name the culprits and did not identify them by description. Her proposed solution led to protracted discussion with the union representative about what steps the union required in disciplining employees. There was an unwillingness to go to the extreme of terminating the offenders. Nothing concrete seems to have come out of this meeting, but Stumpf received no further complaints from Tunis on this subject.

Tunis was very much concerned about the use of gender based job titles, language and terminology. She would constantly interrupt people, whether she was a participant in the conversation or not, to correct their usage if gender based language or terminology was used. Steve Clair, the melting department head, and Jean Gauthier, the forming department head, complained that when they would try to explain something to Tunis she would interrupt to correct their speech. At one of the morning meetings a senior process engineer had been asked to attend to make a presentation. Tunis kept interrupting him to correct him when he would say such things as tank man or cullet man. He became so upset that he walked out of the meeting. Gauthier also testified that Tunis prolonged the morning meetings by rudely correcting people's language.

Gauthier was awakened in the early morning hours on two consecutive occasions because the log book which he used to communicate with his shift supervisors was not legible. Gender based words had been crossed out along with other words, so that what had been written made no sense. Later on he came upon Tunis in the act of crossing out words in the log book. She was told by Kauser not to do that again, and there was no repetition of log book tampering.

On March 24, 1976, before Tunis commenced her tour of duty at Fall Brook, a memorandum had been sent to company supervisory personnel changing salaried position titles to eliminate their gender based orientation. Shift foreman, for example, was changed to shift supervisor, section foreman to section supervisor, draftsman to drafting technician, etc. When Tunis complained about the continued use of sex based terminology, Francik had a new memorandum, dated May 13, 1976, sent to all personnel reiterating company policy that sex based terminology was no longer appropriate.

Tunis testified that, after she had become known as the cause of the removal of the pinup displays, she was often kept locked in the outer area when she sought entry into the plant in the morning. One had to be let into the plant by security personnel, who would buzz you in on the showing of proper identification. After showing the proper identification, however, she would still be denied access to the plant until other employees arrived, when she then would pass through with them. Francik testified that the security people on duty would become distracted by a phone call or some other matter and would at times forget to buzz him in promptly.

The work day was 8-5. Tunis arrived at about 8:10-8:15 and worked until 6 or later. In the beginning she arrived at 8, but was locked out and then she began arriving at 8:15 or 8:20. Because of some construction which blocked access to her office, arriving at 8 was a problem for about 6 weeks, but ...


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