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Crone vs. UPS Legal Case


The case was decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th circuit. The plaintiff was Sarah Crone and the defendant was the United Parcel Service. It was submitted on 18th April and filed on August 30th in 2002. Ms. Sarah Crone was a UPS employee who worked as a dispatcher, in the little rock facility of the feeder department. When she learned that a supervisor position was open she requested the department manager, Ray Whitaker to recommend her.

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The manager failed to give a favorable recommendation because he was concerned that she may get emotional when faced with a confrontational situation by a UPS truck driver and break down into tears. In his opinion not only did she lack the confrontational skills she also lacked the leadership qualities, initiative, and interpersonal skills needed for that position. a male part-time dispatcher was promoted to that post. Ms. Crone pressed charges alleging sexual discrimination.

The outcome of the case

The district court passed judgment in favor of UPS, sitting that Ms. Crone failed to “provide enough evidence to create a genuine case supported by facts as to discriminatory intent”. Ms. Crone went ahead and appealed. The court of appeal agreed with the judgment of the district court and gave several reasons for this:

Ms. Crone in her testimony agreed that confrontational skills are necessary for that post. Thus Mr. Whitaker’s concerns were genuine although stated in a demeaning manner. Ms. Crone also admitted that she had difficulties dealing with confrontation in the past.’…on at least one occasion she was close to tears when confronted by a truck driver when she was working as a dispatcher.’ (Ms. Crone vs. U.P.S, Inc., 2002). The UPS feeder truck drivers are a unionized group that tends to be very confrontational. Thus confrontational skills are necessary.

Evidence also showed that Mr. Whitaker’s supervisor was the one making the final decision and he had the authority to override Mr. Whitaker’s recommendation. Ms. Crone did not provide other evidence showing sex discrimination by the organization or by Mr. Whitaker. The court ruled that they could not find that the decision not to promote Ms. Crone was due to gender discrimination.


The outcome of this case raises an important question; could it provide an unlawful excuse for other forms of discrimination in the workplace?

Based on the findings of this case employers could cover up discriminating of employees based on gender, race, religion, national origin, or disability by making claims that they are not aggressive or confrontational enough. Employees can also abuse the laws against discrimination by using them inappropriately. Caution needs to be exercised by employers, law enforcers, and other groups so as to ensure that the law is followed and justice and fairness exercised. Discrimination claims should be investigated and evidence provided so as to distinguish genuine cases from those that are not.

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This particular case fails to provide evidence of discrimination based on gender. Although Mr. Whitaker’s concerns were voiced in a demeaning manner,” he was afraid that she might break down into tears when confronted by truck drivers”, (Sarah crone vs. United Parcel Service, Inc.2002) they were genuine. Past situations proved that his concerns had a basis. In addition, the fact that Ms. Crone lacks the skills needed for the job is not gender discrimination. This particular case is not an incident of unlawful excuse for discrimination.


American law prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of disability, gender, color, race, national origin, and religion. Various laws such as the employment non-discrimination act, the anti-disability discrimination act, and other federal and state laws. Equal opportunity should be provided for all employees. However, for fairness to be exercised the qualifications of employees should also be put into consideration.

Businesses should ensure that they engage in ethical practices. Ethical practice should also be applied to employee-employer relationships. A business that practices such kind of ethical practice prohibits discrimination of employees based on age, sex, race, national origin, weight, disability, or attractiveness. Equal employment opportunities, fair income, appraisal and promotion, termination, and transfer policies are done fairly without discrimination. Businesses are also encouraged to use affirmative action when considering applicants. However, some observers say that this is a modern-day form of discrimination. As much as a business considers minorities they should also place a high significance on the qualifications required for the job.


Johnson P. Smith K. “Contextualizing business ethics: anomie and social life.” Human Relations 1999: 52(11) 1351-75.

Paine, LS. “Managing for organizational integrity.” Harvard Business Review 1994: 72(2):106-17.

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