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Coffee Demand Fails to Brew Up Sexual Harassment Complaint for Female Receptionist

Posted by Frank Steinberg | Jun 12, 2008 | 0 Comments

"I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee . . ."

~  Carly Simon, "You're So Vain"

Coffee was a nightmare, not a dream, for Tamara Klopfenstein, a short-tenured, part-time receptionist and clerk for National Sales & Supply, LLC. 

Klopfenstein took offense at being asked to bring the bosses coffee, claiming that it wasn't in her job description and was based on an outdated gender-specific stereotype.

By the fateful day on which Klopfenstein was terminated, the court noted that "the controversy was really  brewing."  (OK, so it's an obvious joke.  You still have to love a judge who has a sense of humor and doesn't mind showing it.) 

The court found that the plaintiff could not prove either hostile environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment and entered summary judgment for defendant, which appears to have been the right decision.  The standard for sexual harassment includes the requirement that the allegedly harassing conduct be offensive to a reasonable woman.  You can read the opinion here, and an article from Law.com here, and decide for yourself, but it seems to us that Klopfenstein worked herself into a froth over some pretty innocuous behavior.

The plaintiff is considering an appeal.  We wouldn't expect a different result there.

About the Author

Frank Steinberg

Frank is the founder and principal of Steinberg Law, LLC. A Jersey boy born and bred, he focuses on employment litigation and counseling, business litigation,  and aviation law. Following law school and a clerkship in the federal district court Frank spent his early career with large litigation ...

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