Court Rules That Employer Is not Entitled to Employee's Income Tax Returns in Sexual Harassment Case

Gregory S. Schaer, a Monmouth County based New Jersey Employment Attorney located in Manalapan, represented the employee in a lawsuit against their employer alleging claims of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.

In Blakey v. Continental Airlines , 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22067, Captain Blakey claimed that pornographic materials were placed in the cockpit of aircraft that she flew and that the Company failed to take any action in response to her complaints of workplace harassment and discrimination. She also claimed that the Airline retaliated against her for complaining about the sexual harassment and for filing a lawsuit against them.

During the course of discovery in the lawsuit, Continental Airlines sought to obtain copies of Captain Blakey’s personal journals as well as her personal income tax returns. Magistrate Judge Denis Cavanaugh denied Continental’s request to obtain this information and Continental filed an appeal with United States District Judge William G. Bassler.

Continental Airlines claimed Captain Blakey’s income tax returns and personal diaries were necessary in orders to evaluate her claims for economic losses, present and future wage losses, lost employment benefits and emotional distress. Magistrate Judge Cavanaugh held that the discovery was not necessary in light of other discoverable material.

On appeal, the court held that providing Continental Airlines with copies of her annual W-2 Forms, not the complete income tax returns, was all that was reasonably necessary to be disclosed and that requiring Captain Blakey to produce her complete income tax returns would constitute a violation of her privacy rights.

To speak with an experienced New Jersey Employment Law Attorney, contact the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer, LLC, conveniently located in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

  1. Blakey v. Continental Airlines, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22074 (D.N.J. 1997)