Johnson v. Gen. Bd. of Pension & Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, No. 12-1699 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Johnson was rejected for four promotions and was terminated in 2004, when her employer, General Board learned that Johnson had been recording conversations with co-workers without their consent. Johnson had filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2001 and in 2003 and, after her termination, filed a charge, claiming sexual harassment, based on a video shown by a team leader, featuring male nudity. Johnson sued General Board, alleging race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. 981, and sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. Johnson testified that a hiring official told her that her tendency to complain about discrimination might have contributed to the decision not to promote her. Most of Johnson’s claims were dismissed. Two remaining claims for retaliation were tried; a jury returned a verdict for the defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to evidentiary rulings and to jury instructions. The district court failed to comply with FRCP 51(b), which requires the court to decide the content of final jury instructions and give the parties an opportunity to object before instructions and final arguments are delivered; the procedural error was ultimately harmless.