* Ex-manager sued over alleged retaliatory firing
* Sears said to resist handling of sex harassment probe
WASHINGTON Jan 22 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Tuesday refused to consider whether Sears Holdings Corp
improperly fired a former supervisor who objected to how the
retailer handled a sexual harassment probe she helped conduct.
Without comment, the court declined to take up an appeal by
Janet Brush, who had worked on and off for Sears for 15 years,
most recently as a "loss prevention district coach" for the
Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer's Kmart unit.
Brush claimed she was let go in November 2007 after Sears
rejected her urging that Florida police be told that a male
store supervisor might have on three occasions raped a female
assistant. She claimed that the firing violated Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment
discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national
But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami last
March disagreed. It said this was because management workers who
in the course of their jobs oppose their employers' actions do
not engage in "protected activity" under Title VII.
According to the 11th Circuit, Brush mainly objected to
Sears' failure to alert police to the alleged rapes - the victim
had also asked that police not be notified - and failed to show
that Sears broke the law in not notifying law enforcement.
The legal standard adopted by the 11th Circuit is known as
the "manager rule." Brush's counsel said federal appeals courts
are divided over whether to accept it, and that some have held
that Title VII anti-retaliation protections offer the same
protection to managers, supervisors and personnel officials as
to other workers.
Erik Scharf, a lawyer for Brush, did not immediately respond
to a request for comment.
The case is Brush v. Sears Holdings Corp, U.S. Supreme
Court, No. 12-268.