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News - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
Taylor v. VUU


Taylor v. Virginia University

December 27,1999 A petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the United Supreme Court in the sex discrimination case of Taylor v. Virginia Union University. Two female police officers formerly employed by Virginia Union University have asked the Supreme Court to reverse the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the district court in Richmond after they were denied the right to a fair trial. 

Although the former police chief for Virginia Union University had confessed that he had no intention of ever sending females to the Police Academy for training, the Fourth Circuit held that since the remark was made in reference to only one of the officers, it was not direct evidence of an improper motive in the decision of the police chief not to send the other officer to the Academy.  The Fourth Circuit also held that simply because the police chief had played a role in hiring the two female officers that he was entitled to a strong inference that he would not discriminate against them because they were women.  Finally the Fourth Circuit refused to correct the abuse of discretion by the trial judge in keeping out what the University admitted was very prejudicial evidence in the sex discrimination trial -- that the former chief of police treated women as sexual objects -- commenting that he bet an employee had "good pussy," or that he admitted to looking down another employee's blouse. 

The law firm of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.,  has filed the petition asking the United States Supreme Court to remove contrived restrictions placed by the Fourth Circuit on the Civil Rights Act of 1991and to direct lower courts to conduct a more thorough analysis rather than retreating to sweeping generalizations often applied in discrimination cases.  Thomas H. Roberts is asking the Court to curtail the application of the "same actor inference" and the "stray comment rule". 

Thomas H. Roberts, Esq., counsel for the two female officers, expressed disappointment that Virginia Union University, an institution that should be particularly mindful of the scourge of discrimination, has not denounced sexual discrimination.   Instead of denouncing the evil and making amends the Virginia University has attempted to justify their behavior claiming that its just "men-talk."    Judge Motz, writing a dissenting opinion to the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to permit the scourge to continue, on this note stated

  • Although at oral argument (but not in its appellate brief) the university fleetingly asserted harmlessness, its principal contention was that exclusion of this statement was proper because the statement was purportedly irrelevant. The remark was irrelevant, VUU maintained, because Chief Wells made it "to another male employee without a female being in the presence." The university explained that"this is [a] kind of man talk situation. When men get together and talk they say certain things. Certainly the plaintiff had no way of knowing this comment was ever made."
  • If a supervisor's own words reflect the illegal bias he is accused of harboring, those words generally constitute strong, direct evidence of that animus, admissible in an employment discrimination action brought against him. Such evidence does not become irrelevant just because the supervisor did not make the offensive remarks in front of those he is accused of victimizing, or because the plaintiff did not know of the remarks.
    . . .
  • I agree [with petitioners] and am deeply disappointed that a respected institution of higher learning would suggest otherwise.
The facts and circumstances of each case are unique and therefore the fact that a law firm has obtained significant verdicts and results in other cases in no way guarantees that other cases will have similar results.