The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 9A
U.S. Supreme Court hears sexual harassment case
WASHINGTON (AP) - Police dispatcher
Nancy Drew Suders says she had no choice but
to quit her job after enduring months of verbal
abuse and harassment from male co-workers.
She wasn't thinking about the finer points of
employment law when she walked out, although
she quickly learned that getting fired would have
made her sexual harassment lawsuit much easier
Suders's case came to the Supreme Court yes-
terday as an example of the problems that on-the-
job harassment can cause for employees,
employers and a legal system struggling to draw
rules fair to all sides.
Day in and day out, Suders says, her male co-
workers at a Pennsylvania State Police barracks
taunted her with lewd talk. Suders says one offi-
cer repeatedly grabbed his crotch in front of her
and others told dirty-jokes.
"She was subjected to horrendous conditions
at work;' and got nowhere when she sought help
within the police agency, her lawyer, Donald Bai-
ley, told the court.
Suders's supervisors deny any harassment.
They claim she was disorganized, often late and
overwhelmed by her duties. They note she never
told anyone about the alleged abuse until just
before she quit, and that she left the job in 1998
after being accused of stealing results of a com-
puter test that her supervisors told her she had
failed. She was not charged.
The Supreme Court has said employers can
be on the hook for lawsuits over sexual harass-
ment that results in some clear punishment for
the employee, such as getting fired or demoted.
The court also has said that an employer can
avoid such suits by showing a sincere and
effective policy aimed at preventing and
responding to harassment.
Suders wants the justices to conclude that in
cases like hers, quitting is really the same thing as
getting fired. She shouldn't be penalized because
she didn't wait around for further abuse or pun-
ishment, her supporters argue.
"Sexual harassment is all too pervasive in the
workplace and can amount to a situation where
an employee feels she has no effective choice but
to resign to escape it," said Jocelyn Samuels, who
helped write a friend of the court brief supporting
Suders for the National Women's Law Center.
"That's very much a real-world problem, and
one that employers ought to be liable for."
Although perhaps sympathetic to Suders her-
self, several justices seemed unwilling to go that
far. There is a real-world consideration for
employers, too, they noted.
The state of Pennsylvania, the Bush administra-
tion and business groups want the high court to
overturn a lower court's ruling in Suders's favor.
If Suders wins, "employers could have reason
to be nervous every time someone quits," said
lawyer Ellen Dunham Bryant of the U.S. Cham-
ber of Commerce.
"We want employers to be encouraged to have
(anti-harassment) policies, and we want employ-
ees to be encouraged to report harassment,"
Bryant said. "We feel everyone benefits in that
Suders was aware of the state's anti-harass-
ment policies and procedures to complain but
sought no help until two days before she quit,
lawyers for the state argued. Although Suders's
allegations are presumed to be true for the pur-
poses of this case, the lawyers noted that Suders's
former supervisors and co-workers deny them.
Nearly half of all working women have experi-
enced some form of harassment on the job, and
harassment affects women in all kinds of jobs
and at all levels of employment, according to the
National Women's Law Center.
Drill bit may tie
Nichols to Oka.
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - Prosecutors at the murder
trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator and Michigan
native Terry Nichols used a drill bit yesterday to try to con-
nect him to the theft of blasting caps and detonation cord
from a rock quarry.
Two expert witnesses testified that a bit seized from
Nichols' home after the April 19, 1995, bombing made the
distinctive markings found in a drill hole in a padlock at the
quarry near Marion, Kan.
"That was the drill that was used," said James Cadigan, a
retired FBI tool-mark examiner.
A variety of explosives, including detonation cord and
blasting caps, were stolen from the quarry less than seven
months before the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building. The quarry was about 25 miles from Nichols'
home in Herington, Kan.
Prosecutors say detonation cord and blasting caps were
among the components of the 4,000-pound fertilizer-and-fuel
bomb that destroyed the federal building, killing 168 people.
George Krivosta, of the Suffolk County Medical Examin-
er's Office on Long Island, N.Y., said he was certain the one-
quarter-inch drill bit made the markings "to the exclusion of
any other tool ever manufactured."
Their testimony was attacked by defense attorneys, who
questioned procedures for examining the evidence and
whether a comparison is possible based on cuts and grooves
left by a drill bit.
"You are basing your conclusions on these bits and
pieces?" defense attorney Barbara Bergman asked as a pho-
tograph showing microscopic detail of the drilled-out pad-
lock was displayed on television monitors for Nichols' jury.
"I looked at all the marks that were left," Cadigan said.
The drilled-out lock was found shortly after the Oct. 3,
1994, burglary and was turned over to the FBI after the bomb-
ing. The drill and drill bits were seized from Nichols' home
during an FBI search on May 3, 1995.
Bergman questioned Cadigan at length about his experi-
ence and about the accreditation of the FBI laboratory's tool
Karzai calls on countries to
continue aiding Afghanistan
BERLIN (AP) - Afghan President Hamid
Karzai urged the world to stay on track in
helping his country toward democracy and
stability as a donors' conference opened with
appeals to make improving security in the
war-ravaged nation a top priority.
Secretary of State Colin Powell offered $1 bil-
lion in aid on top of the $1.2 billion the United
States has pledged this year, and promised "the
United States will not abandon you."
"Afghanistan's success is the only option
for the United States and for the international
community," Powell said in a speech.
Karzai came to Berlin with a plan seeking
some $28 billion in aid over the next seven
years, and he asked the officials from more
than 50 countries to recommit themselves to
"the vision of a stable, secure and prosperous
Afghanistan" that could be self-sufficient
within a decade.
"That requires your sustained assistance,"
Karzai told the conference.
Afghanistan has made great strides since
the 2001 U.S.-led bombing campaign ousted
the Taliban regime, but regional warlords
have yet to be disarmed and a stubborn Tal-
iban-led insurgency persists in the south and
east. The country remains among the world's
"The first challenge is the presence of pri-
vate militia forces," Karzai said. "These
forces are not only a challenge to security and
stability in Afghanistan, but they also are a
cause of drug cultivation."
With opium production accounting for
about half of Afghanistan's economy, Karzai's
government is launching a fresh drive this
month to destroy poppy fields. But further
international help is needed to make the pro-
gram work, he said.
"Drugs in Afghanistan are threatening the
very existence of the Afghan state," he said.
While the conference will focus on how far
rich countries are willing to commit new aid
money, Afghanistan's progress on democratic
reforms and the security threats overshadow-
ing planned September elections are on the
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged
the gathering of foreign ministers and senior
officials from more than 50 countries to
renew a "firm, long-term commitment" to
helping Afghanistan, including the "enor-
mous" task of organizing the elections.
"Much has been achieved," said German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the confer-
ence host and leader of a major aid-giving
"The security situation in the country has
improved - but it is not yet what we would like
it to be in some parts of the country," he said.
"It is important that the international com-
munity today stress its commitment to a
secure, free and democratic Afghanistan," he
Annan said the election date put pressure
on the Afghan government and the interna-
"Objectives that have eluded the country
for two years must now be achieved in a very
short time," including greater security to
allow all Afghans to vote as well as greater
political freedoms, he said in a message read
to the conference by his envoy, Lakhdar
"Security assistance remains one of the
most important contributions - if not the
most important - that the international com-
munity can make," Annan said.
Karzai himself highlighted "the desire of
the Afghan people for provincial reconstruc-
tion teams, for the expanding of the Interna-
tional Security Assistance Force," the
NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Ann Arbor resident Joy Strawser wears a fish costume yesterday
to inform people about the health hazards of mercury as part of
Earth Day on the Diag.
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