Judy Mitchell testified that on the day she informed Kinnicutt that she wanted no part in the union, Kinnicutt told her that "she [Kinnicutt] could be the mall queen and she hadn't critiqued my [Mitchell's] candles yet." Tr. 264. Mitchell testified that on that day, Kinnicutt classified 52 of her candles as malls. Tr. 265. Mitchell then went to Bledsoe and asked her to recheck the candles, and according to Mitchell, Bledsoe found "very few malls" upon her reinspection. Tr. 265. At the end of that week, Mitchell was suspended for her high number of malls. Although Bledsoe's reinspection allegedly uncovered far fewer malls, the suspension was never rescinded by the company. Tr. 267.
Finally, Katherine Strawcutter testified that on February 19, when she refused to return Kinnicutt's calls concerning the union, Kinnicutt malled 50 of her candles. Tr. 284. According to Kinnicutt, Bledsoe's reinspection turned up "probably about twenty" malls. Tr. 286. Mitchell also testified that prior to that, Kinnicutt had intentionally "smushed" her candles by leaning a clipboard on them. Tr. 286. Strawcutter also testified that she had been terminated in May for failing to make enough candles, but had been reinstated by the company two weeks before her appearance at trial. Tr. 294. Strawcutter also testified that the critiquing of her work was "a lot easier" since she returned to the company. Tr. 295.
On the morning of February 20, Bledsoe testified that a meeting was held at which she, Gilligan, and Kinnicutt were present. Bledsoe testified that she presented Kinnicutt with the written reprimand, and told Kinnicutt that she had to critique more people and needed to make sure "malls were malls." Tr. 337. According to Bledsoe, the meeting was conducted in a calm fashion, and Kinnicutt did not appear upset. Tr. 344.
Kinnicutt testified that after being written up, she first inspected the work of "a couple of other candlemakers" and then turned to the work of Yvonne Cornelius. As Kinnicutt separated the candles that had to be fixed from the others, Cornelius told Kinnicutt that she did not have to put up with Kinnicutt's crap, and that Kinnicutt was malling her candles due to her anger at being written up. Kinnicutt testified that she responded that Cornelius was angry because Kinnicutt could no longer help her fix her candles. Tr. pp. 177-78. Kinnicutt conceded that Cornelius had "quite a lot" of malled candles. Tr. p. 179.
Alinda Bledsoe then arrived on the scene. Bledsoe testified that Cornelius approached her and told her that Kinnicutt stated that if the candlemakers thought Kinnicutt was a bitch before, now she was going to be a bitch from hell. Bledsoe further testified that Kinnicutt was malling more candles of Cornelius than she should have, and that Cornelius stated that she would take no more of Kinnicutt's crap and was going to quit. Tr. p. 339. Bledsoe never asked Kinnicutt whether she had, in fact, threatened Cornelius. Tr. 350. Instead, Bledsoe went to talk to Barbara Gilligan. Tr. 339.
Gilligan testified that Bledsoe came to her and told her that Cornelius was upset, and that she was quitting. Gilligan told Bledsoe to calm Cornelius down, and Gilligan telephoned Shaughnessy. Gilligan then went to Shaughnessy's office. Tr. p. 374.
Shaughnessy testified that she was first notified by Gilligan that Kinnicutt was malling excessive numbers of candles about ten days prior to Kinnicutt's termination. Tr. 405. Shaughnessy testified that when she first heard the complaints, she did not give them much attention, because there had been talk of union organization some years before and nothing came of it. Tr. 403. In addition, Shaughnessy assumed that "some of the candlemakers just might be disgruntled for some reason." Tr. 406. However, when Gilligan again informed Shaughnessy about the complaints of alleged threats on the morning of February 20, and the specifics of the Cornelius incident, Shaughnessy became angry, as she felt that type of behavior was unacceptable for a critiquer. Tr. p. 417.
Shaughnessy then went to the CT building, and told Kinnicutt she wanted to talk to her. As they approached the office, Bledsoe was in the room, but stated that she did not want to be there when Shaughnessy confronted Kinnicutt. Instead, Lynnie Bartoo remained in the office as a witness to the meeting. Tr. p. 417. Shaughnessy then told Kinnicutt that she heard she had been written up, and that she was upset. Kinnicutt then stated that she had been written up, but had not been upset. According to Shaughnessy:
I had asked her, you mean you didn't make any threatening comments to anyone, and she denied that. And so after she denied it I didn't think I should pursue it any longer and so I said, well, under New York State law I do not have to tell you why I am firing you, you're denying that you threatened anyone, but you were written up this morning for fixing candles, that you shouldn't be, for wandering around, for not doing as much work as you should, these are some of the reasons I'm letting you go.
Tr. p. 418.
Although Shaughnessy stated to Kinnicutt that the contents of the write-up were the reason for the termination, she stated at trial that the alleged threats were the actual reason, and that she believed the candlemakers and disbelieved Kinnicutt. Tr. 418.
After terminating Kinnicutt, Shaughnessy announced the termination on the production floor and announced that Kinnicutt was not permitted on any of the facilities. Tr. 12. Shaughnessy had never publicly announced a termination before, and testified that she did so on this occasion in order to allay the anxieties of the candlemakers who had allegedly been harassed and abused by Kinnicutt. Tr. 15.
In the evening of the same day, February 20, an informational meeting was held by Cole at the local VFW post. Tr. 420. Eight employees signed a sign-in list. Plaintiff's Ex. 4. Several other employees who attended the meeting, including Ryan and Melissa Gough, and Theresa Shaughnessy, did not sign the list. Shaughnessy attended the meeting, claiming that she believed that the union would represent management employees as well as line workers. Tr. 420. Within a short time of her arrival, Cole approached her and asked her to leave, stating that it was his meeting, and that he did not want supervisors to attend. Tr. 425. Shaughnessy asked other employees for a show of hands indicating whether they wanted her to leave. Tr. 426. Cole, however, insisted that he would not start the meeting unless Shaughnessy left, and Shaughnessy ultimately complied. Tr. 426.
The National Labor Relations Act, section 10(j), provides:
The [National Labor Relations] Board shall have the power, upon issuance of a complaint . . . charging that any person has engaged in or is engaging in an unfair labor practice, to petition any United States district court, within any district wherein the unfair labor practice in question is alleged to have occurred . . . for appropriate temporary relief or restraining order. Upon the filing of any such petition the court . . . shall have jurisdiction to grant the Board such temporary relief or restraining order as it deems just and proper.