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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Useful Lessons

There's so much for the layman to learn about security.

I walked into the downtown courthouse one day last week and seemed to make it through security without incident when I heard one of the guards calling to me as I was walking away.

He then proceeded to tell me - without a hint of irony as far as I could tell - that next time I should carry the plastic drink bottle I had with me through the metal detector instead of putting it in the tray for the x-ray machine.


I didn't question it. Maybe I should have.

The very next day in the Torrance courthouse, a guard insisted that I place some magazines - made out of paper, I'm pretty sure - in the tray for the x-ray machine.

This time I couldn't resist asking why.

She told me they might contain very thin plastic weapons that wouldn't be detected by the metal detector.

Again, not a hint of a smile.

So the lesson here is that if you're going to invade a building with a deadly, tiny plastic weapon, keep it in your pocket.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. The Eighth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals has provided more evidence that equality may trump just about anything. The ruling is Smith v. Hy-Vee, Inc. and, at first reading, it seems to be a pretty clear case of sexual harassment.

You'll enjoy reading the details. Here's just a taste: "Several employees engaged in sexual jokes and made penises or other body parts out of dough and cake."

It's one of the perks of working in a bakery.

The ruling says the plaintiff "raised a total of 66 to 101 complaints to management." Apparently there was some sort of counting problem.

Management had no trouble counting - it said the plaintiff never complained.

OK - your typical he said/she said dispute, right? So why did the plaintiff lose a summary judgment?

The answer is: "(T)he facts on record show that Lynch treated all employees, both male and female, in the same vulgar and inappropriate way."

It's part of the job description.

Lesson to be learned: you can treat your employees as badly as you want if you don't play favorites. It's only fair.

And you're better off being bisexual.

ONCE BURNED. See if you can spot the irony in this passage from a recent Supreme Court of Georgia decision called In the Matter of Clark Jones-Lewis:

"This matter arose in connection with Jones-Lewis' largely pro bono representation of eight couples regarding their complaint that an adoption service had selected each couple to adopt the same infant."

Yeah, the same couples that shouldn't have relied on one adoption agency decided to rely on one lawyer.

That didn't work out either.

Lesson: if a team effort doesn't work the first time, don't try it again.

LAME EXCUSES. If you take a case up on appeal, you've got to believe you have good reason.


This is from a Florida Court of Appeals ruling called City of Venice v. Van Dyke in which a guy asked for workers compensation after undergoing open heart surgery: "The (appellant) argues, however, because the ascending aorta is not 'in the heart,' it cannot be considered heart disease."

Obviously, this is not an employer with a lot of heart.

And then there was this in a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruling called Smiley v. Department of Defense: "Mr. Smiley admitted rubbing the shoulders of one of the women. His explanation of this event was that he lived in Italy for 10 years and 'it's a different culture there. They express themselves with their hands a lot and I, I find myself doing it even today."

At this point, the court reporter stopped typing....

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