Determined the right to sue under Title VII for wrongful discharge when a woman is dismissed from employment because her batterer works in the same establishment and has threatened with violence if she is not fired.
Maureen Valdez left an abusive relationship, but continued to see her batterer at work because they both worked for the same employer. When the batterer smashed Valdez’s car’s headlights in their employer’s parking lot and threatened the office receptionist that he would kill Valdez if Truss kept her employed there, the employer responded by firing Valdez, not the batterer. Valdez sued, charging gender discrimination under Title VII and Oregon anti-discrimination law, as well as a violation of Oregon’s wrongful discharge laws.
Legal Momentum was co-counsel with Oregon Legal Services and a local attorney. In August 1999, after briefings on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court upheld Valdez’s Title VII claim, ruling that because she was an employee, not an independent contractor, she could pursue that claim against Truss. However, the court rejected her wrongful discharge claim. The case settled favorably for Valdez prior to trial.