Opposing counsel in the Villa v. CavaMezze Grill case has filed their brief in opposition to our appeal in this Title VII case, which is currently pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and I have filed The Kaplan Law Firm’s reply brief in further opposition to the arguments made by Cava. As I have written before, my client in this case, Patricia Villa, was fired for reporting that she had been told by another employee that that employee had been the target of sexual harassment by one of the Defendants’ managers. The Defendants then fired my client because they believed that she was making up the allegation of sexual abuse. In fact, her report was truthful.
Cava argues that the fact that Villa truthfully reported a sexual harassment complaint is irrelevant. According to Cava, what matters is that, after a quick (and, in our view superficial) investigation, Cava supposedly determined in good faith that Villa was lying. According to Cava, because it truly but wrongly believed that Villa was lying it cannot be held accountable for firing Villa because of her truthful report.
We argue, on behalf of our client, that the court should not adopt Cava’s position because it is inconsistent with Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent and would provide a strong disincentive to the reporting of sexual harassment. What rational employee would report harassment of a third party by a senior company manager if company managers were free to investigate the claim themselves, determine that the report was false and then fire the reporting employee?