Category Archives: Gender discrimination

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Pregnant employee terminated because of upcoming lifting restrictions may have claim for “anticipatory discharge.”

boss firing pregnant empoyeeOne federal court – the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois - recently reviewed a case in which a pregnant employee was terminated after informing her employer that she would be subject to a lifting restriction beginning at the 20th week of her pregnancy. Although the employee was only in her 15th … Continue Reading

Employee’s failure to apply for position dooms discriminatory hiring claim.

pirate applicaitonTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment because of certain protected characteristics, including gender. In order to support a claim under Title VII, an individual must point to an “adverse employment action” that was taken again … Continue Reading

Congratulations! It’s a . . . pregnancy discrimination guidance.

What-to-Write-in-a-Baby-Shower-CardThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued its first comprehensive update of a 1983 Compliance Manual chapter on the subject of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and related issues. The Guidance, which was not submitted for public comment prior to its issuance, also discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as … Continue Reading

Pregnancy-related statements by managers help employee to avoid summary judgment on pregnancy discrimination claim.

In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a pregnancy discrimination claim, finding that an employer’s “no accommodation for non-work-related injuries” raised an issue of pregnancy discrimination for a jury. Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center, 6th Cir., No. 12-2408, December 23, 2013. Jennifer … Continue Reading

Family squabble leads to “Facebook firing,” and to dismissal of plaintiff’s case.

The line of “Facebook firing” cases is growing longer every month. In October, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in an unpublished opinion in which an individual claimed gender discrimination after he was fired from his job as a daycare center worker. According to the employer, the firing was based on … Continue Reading

Firing of employee after his angry outburst during mediation did not constitute retaliation.

While Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision does not prohibit all employer action after an employee has filed a discrimination charge or lawsuit, it precludes employers from taking an action that might dissuade a reasonable employee from making or supporting a discrimination charge. Recently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the retaliation claim of an … Continue Reading

Domestic Violence Victim Leave Law Enacted in New Jersey.

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), which was extended in February 2013, is a federal law that provides funding toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office … Continue Reading

Ostracism and petty mistreatments may collectively rise to the level of hostile work environment.

A female plumber on “light duty” in the City of Chicago’s Department of Sewers filed a lawsuit alleging that because she was female, her supervisor assigned menial work to her, prohibited her coworkers from interacting with her, and subjected her to alleged “verbal violence.” While the district court viewed each of those actions individually and … Continue Reading

Alleged comments by HR director sufficient to defeat company’s motion for summary judgment.

Remarks by a law firm’s human resources director could be “direct evidence” of pregnancy discrimination and violation of the FMLA, according to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. According to the court, such evidence falls outside of the “hearsay” objection that might otherwise keep it from being presented to a jury. Makowski v. SmithAmundsen … Continue Reading

Sexual innuendos and demeaning comments cost employer $1.6 Million.

In gender discrimination cases under Title VII, a jury can award back pay and front pay, but also can award compensatory damages if it believes that an employee was harmed emotionally or psychologically by the alleged harassment or hostile work environment. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $1.6 Million damages award … Continue Reading

First Circuit holds that Title VII does not protect employees from the “ordinary slings and arrows that suffuse the workplace every day.”

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us that while Congress’ antidiscrimination laws are designed to protect workers’ rights, they are “not intended to function as a collective panacea for every work-related experience that is in some respect unjust, unfair, or unpleasant.” Consistent with this statement, the court dismissed the claims of four female … Continue Reading

Employer’s continuing efforts to resolve issues complained of by employee supports dismissal of discrimination complaint.

  In an unpublished opinion, the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss an employee’s claims of discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation, based largely upon the “extraordinary lengths” to which the employer went to investigate the issues complained of by the employee. Wood v. University of Pittsburgh, 3d … Continue Reading

Failure to keep complainant informed of remedial measures may indicate insufficient employer response to harassment.

An employer’s failure to keep an female employee apprised of its response to her complaints of sexual harassment, and its further failure to follow through on remedial actions could lead a reasonable jury to find that the employer did not take the complaints seriously. Such failures form the basis of a recent decision by the … Continue Reading

Men entitled to Title VII protection from sexually hostile work environment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a female co-worker’s “relentless” pursuit of a male employee, including verbal comment and suggestive notes, could form the basis of a sexually hostile environment, even without any physical conduct of a sexual nature. EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc., 9th Cir., No. 07-17221, Sept. 3, … Continue Reading

Actionable hostile work environment can be based upon a single action.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that it is up to a jury to determine whether, in fact, a single instance of uninvited intimate physical contact may be sufficient to support a claim of hostile work environment. Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority, 7th Cir., No. 07-2288, August 23, 2010. Cynthia Berry was … Continue Reading

Threatening language may support claim of hostile environment, even without sexual references.

For the second time in as many weeks, a federal appeals court decision rests on the determination that an alleged harasser who makes gender-specific slurs and comments can create a hostile work environment for a female employee, even though the harasser is an “Equal Opportunity Harasser” who makes crass and offensive remarks to “everyone, regardless … Continue Reading

Equal Opportunity Harasser’s use of female-specific slurs and remarks can support claim of hostile work environment.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that an alleged harasser who makes gender-specific slurs and comments can create a hostile work environment for a female employee, even though the harasser is an “Equal Opportunity Harasser” who makes sexually offensive remarks to “anybody, any time.” EEOC v. Fairbrook Medical Clinic, P.A., 4th Circ., … Continue Reading

Company pays judgment for sexual harassment of teenaged employees.

The EEOC announced on May 5, 2010 that Ohio-based Everdry Marketing and Management, Inc., has paid over $500,000 in damages in interest to satisfy a judgment against that company stemming from a 2006 jury trial. The original claims were filed by 13 women, mostly teenagers at the time of the incidents, who worked at the … Continue Reading

Inconsistent administration of physical ability test can create a triable question of intentional discrimination.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s summary judgment in favor of an employer who required a female employee to take a physical ability test after an on-the-job injury, even though it did not require such a test for similarly situated male employees. Merritt v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., … Continue Reading

Adverse employment action based on gender-related non-conforming behavior and appearance is impermissible.

Under Title VII, an unlawful employment practice is established when an employee demonstrates that gender is a motivating factor for an adverse employment action. Under that analysis, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Title VII claims of a female hotel desk clerk who was fired after a company decision-maker complained that … Continue Reading

Homosexual man’s gender stereotyping claim is cognizable under Title VII.

Congress has repeatedly rejected legislation that would extend Title VII protection to claims of sexual orientation discrimination. However, under Title VII, an employee may raise a claim of gender discrimination if that individual can demonstrate that an harasser was acting to punish the employee’s noncompliance with gender stereotypes. The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals … Continue Reading

Supervisors without authority to affect employment status of other workers are not “managers” for purpose of Title VII.

The basis of an employer’s liability for a claim of hostile work environment under Title VII depends upon whether the harasser is the complainant’s supervisor or merely a co-worker. When a hostile work environment is created by a co-worker, the employer is liable only if the employer failed to provide an avenue for reporting the … Continue Reading

Use of subjective hiring criteria by employer is not unlawful, per se.

Recently, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed a company’s testing and interview procedure for new hires, and decided that certain subjective hiring criteria did not necessarily create a mechanism for excluding female applicants. That review occurred in the context of a lawsuit brought by a female applicant who alleged gender discrimination when the … Continue Reading
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