Category Archives: Title VII

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Unwillingness to complete employment application does not support claim of discriminatory hiring.

The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld lower court’s summary judgment decision, finding that an individual who refused to complete an application without some guarantee that a particular individual would not participate in the hiring process could not support a claim of race discrimination. Murray v. Beverage Distribution Center, 3d Cir., No. 11-1938, … 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

Inconsistent reasons for termination allow home care worker’s pregnancy discrimination case to go forward to jury.

The7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a lower court’s summary judgment in favor of a home care agency, holding that a jury should be allowed to determine whether the agency’s shifting explanations for the firing could, in fact, be a pretext for pregnancy discrimination. Hitchcock v. Angel Corps Inc., 7th Cir., No. 12-3515, … Continue Reading

Gender stereotyping based on a person’s non-conforming behavior violates Title VII.

As the U.S. Supreme Court has stated, Title VII is intended to “strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotyping.” Recently, a federal court in Virginia refused to dismiss the claim of a male employee who said that he was treated differently and subjected to a hostile … 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

One district court finds that “sincerely held belief” of vegan employee may support a religious discrimination claim.

A federal district court in Ohio has refused to dismiss a complaint for religious discrimination made by a hospital employee after the employee was fired for refusing to be vaccinated for the flu. The basis of the refusal to be vaccinated was the employee’s veganism. The Court denied the employer’s motion to dismiss, holding that … Continue Reading

Title VII and ADA can apply in employment situations involving domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Neither Title VII of the Civil Rights Act nor the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically prohibits discrimination against individuals who may be victims of domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. However, a recent fact sheet/guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has employers scrambling to update anti-discrimination training to reflect … Continue Reading

One federal appellate court outlines parameters for “hostile work environment” claim.

One of the issues most frequently litigated in employment cases is whether the remarks and actions of an employer rise to the level of the “hostile work environment” needed to support a claim of discrimination. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed that issue, and provided at least some clarity to the definition, … Continue Reading

All federal court circuits now recognize a cause of action for “retaliatory hostile work environment.”

Most employers understand that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act precludes a discriminatory “hostile work environment,” in which acts of discrimination against an employee are so severe and pervasive that those acts have an adverse impact on the employee’s ability to do his or her job. What is less fully understood is the fact … Continue Reading

EEOC updates Guidance on employer use of arrest and conviction records.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an updated Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII. That Guidance, which takes effect immediately, is a compilation of the past policy documents and prior court decisions regarding the EEOC’s position that employers’ reliance on arrest and conviction … Continue Reading

Independent Contractor may be viewed as employee for purposes of Title VII liability.

The anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act apply only to employees. The determination of whether an individual is an “employee” for purposes of that Act depends largely on whether a putative employer exercised control over the manner and means by which the individual performed a job. While most employers assume that … Continue Reading

Back pay award in successful retaliation claim against former employer may be based upon position not awarded by a different employer.

It is generally understood that employees can bring Title VII claims – and be awarded damages – for hostile environment, wrongful termination, and retaliation. What is less clearly understood is the extent of the economic damages for which a former employer may be liable in the situation in which a litigant claims to have lost … Continue Reading

Title VII protects both current and former employees from discriminatory adverse employment actions.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against “any individual" on the basis of membership in a protected class. In a reminder to employers, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reiterated the generally accepted interpretation that in this language, Title VII explicitly … 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

Use of “English-only” policies is subject of disagreement between governmental agencies.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) has posted a report which recommends that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) modify its position that the use of “English-only” policies is a presumptive violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  See EEOC’s guideline at 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7 (2010). This report sets up an … 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

Fifteen minutes may be adequate time to review employment separation agreement.

The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that 15 minutes was a sufficient amount of time for the plaintiff, a public school teacher, to review a separation agreement and release negotiated in connection with her resignation. Gregory v. Derry Twp. Sch. Dist., 2011 WL 944424 (3d Cir., March 21, 2011) Rhauni Gregory, a … 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

Third Circuit holds that Ledbetter Fair Pay Act does not apply to failure-to-promote claims under Title VII.

In 2009, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (FPA), which allows employees to file unequal-pay claims outside of the otherwise applicable 300 day statute of limitations period for filing claims of discrimination. Under the FPA, the statute of limitations re-starts each time compensation is paid pursuant to a “discriminatory compensation decision or other … Continue Reading

Employer’s unwritten policy regarding criminal background checks sufficient to overcome summary judgment.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that a company’s unwritten policy against hiring applicants with theft-related convictions was sufficient basis to exclude a minority applicant from a position with the company. EEOC v. Con-Way Freight, Inc., 8th Circ., No. 09-2926/2930, Sept. 22, 2010. Roberta Hollins, an African-American female, was interviewed by Kenneth … Continue Reading
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