Appellate Court Revives Boeing Sex Harassment Suit

August 8, 2008 ( - A federal appellate court has breathed new life into a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed against the Boeing Company on behalf of a female helicopter mechanic.

An Arizona Republic news report said the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a ruling by a federal judge in Arizona that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the suit on behalf of Kelley Miles, had not proven its case.The suit alleged Miles was sexually harassed and was later retaliated against while working at Boeing’s Mesa, Arizona,   Apache helicopterplant (See EEOC Claims Harassment At Boeing ).

Unlike U.S. District Judge   Paul Rosenblatt who dismissed the suit, the appellate panel found that there was enough evidence to allow a jury to find Miles was harassed and retaliated against.   The 9 th Circuit sent the case back to the lower court for additional hearings.

Appellate judges said there were also remaining questions of fact about whether the company took adequate steps to deal with the reported harassment and whether it retaliated against Miles for reporting the problem.

According to the suit, Miles had been the subject of repeated sexual harassment by male co-workers who stole her tools and shook a helicopter while she was inside in addition to using offensive and sexual language and making physical advances.

An EEOC announcement about the appellate ruling said the 9 th Circuit judges found that   although Boeing terminated one offending male employee and disciplined another, “a reasonable jury could find that these two employees were part of a much larger problem with respect to Miles’ treatment.”

According to the court, there was evidence that the employee who was eventually terminated had been transferred into Miles’s department because he had repeatedly harassed other female employees. The court added that evidence also existed showing that the harassment continued even after Boeing took its initial measures, and the company knew or should have known that the problems were continuing.