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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boorish, maybe; discriminatory, no

Is it necessarily discriminatory to ask a female subordinate to perform tasks such as serving coffee? A Pennsylvania U.S. District Court judge says no.

Tamara Klopfenstein was fired from her job as a receptionist and data entry clerk after she refused to get coffee for the men in the office. Judge Berle M. Schiller denied her Title VII sexual harassment claim, saying there's nothing inherhently sexist about requiring workers to serve coffee, even if that task usually falls to women.

"The act of getting coffee is not, by itself, a gender-specific act," Schiller wrote. "...In the context of other indicators of sexism, getting coffee could evince a discriminatory intent. However, the record is barren of any such supporting evidence in this case."

So, old-school bosses, keep asking for that coffee. But invite your "girl" to take dictation from your lap at your own risk.

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