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Pullen v. Caddo Parish School Board, No. 15-30871 (5th Cir. July 20, 2016)

The existence of a formal anti-harassment policy in the workplace does not guarantee results for the employer if it does not do the important work of publicizing and training on the policy.  The Fifth Circuit reverses summary judgment (in part) owing to a factual dispute about whether a school board did what it needed to do to make its policy a reality. It's an important case on the application of the first prong of the Faragher-Ellerth defense against supervisor-harassment liability.

Nicholson v. Securitas Security Services, Inc., No. 15-10582 (5th Cir. July 18, 2016)

Here's another case involving a joint-employer relationship between a staffing agency and one of its clients. The Fifth Circuit reverses summary judgment, holding that there was a genuine dispute about whether the staffing agency should have known that the client asked it to reassign an employee for age-biased reasons.

Out of Prison, Out of a Job: "Ban the Box" Movement Seeks an End to Employers' Insidious Use of Criminal Background Checks to Reject Qualified Applicants

70 million Americans - one in every three adults in the United States - has a criminal record of some sort. For many of these people, however, the cost of their crimes imposes a death sentence on their ability to find work.

The impact is far reaching. According to White House data, the U.S. incarcerates 25 percent of the world's prison population. Each year, 12 million people are either released from state and federal prisons or cycle through local jails. As they re-enter society and look for employment, however, employers turn their backs on them. African Americans and Latin Americans, who have a disproportionately high percentage of convictions and arrests, are, by far, the hardest hit. As a result, Outten & Golden is using both Title VII of the United States 1964 Civil Rights Act and state and city laws to establish that this harsh impact on minorities violates the law.

Burns v. Johnson, No. 15-1982 (1st Cir. July 11, 2016)

One pernicious "stereotype is the idea that men are better suited than women for positions of importance or leadership in the workplace." Here, the First Circuit reverses summary judgment in a federal-sector Title VII case, citing (among other things) a male supervisor's allegedly hostile tone and emphasis on the word "she" when he acted to block the only woman in the office from performing her job. Oh, and there's a baseball bat in the case, too.

Gretchen Carlson Seeks to Expose Roger Ailes' Toxic Male Gaze, and Might Deal a Blow to Forced Arbitration in the Process

We have learned a lot in the few short days since Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor, filed her lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. While the allegations underlying the lawsuit may not be particularly surprising to anyone who knew anything about Ailes or the culture of Fox News, the fact that a lawsuit was filed, and the way it was filed, demonstrates remarkable legal ingenuity and personal bravery. The Carlson lawsuit underscores just how high the chips are stacked against women coming forward to report harassment and discrimination, but also may give us a roadmap to even those odds.

Not Much Love in "Bro Love" Culture for Women Working in Tech

Challenges for women working in tech are very real. Though the pay gap may be less in the tech industry than other sectors (the New York Times reported that women in tech earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by men - as compared with the American average of 79 cents on the dollar), women in tech are by no means better off. 

Guessous v. Fairview Property Investments, No. 15-1055 (4th Cir. July 6, 2016)

An Arab-American Muslim woman from Morocco alleges that she suffered years of ethnic and religious harassment by the company's Chief Financial Officer, and was then fired 75 minutes after complaining about it. The Fourth Circuit reverses summary judgment on her Title VII and § 1981 complaint, in a blockbuster, 46-page opinion that straightens out several wrong turns that district courts take when ruling on dispositive motions.

Brown v. Smith, No. 15-1114 (7th Cir. June 28, 2016)

Here's a nice, short decision affirming a judgment of $25,200 in compensatory damages and $65,274.64 in back pay for an ADA plaintiff fired because of his insulin-dependent diabetes. The court underscores that the question of "essential function" under that statute is a factual one for a jury to resolve. And the court also holds that starting a business, even one that fails, is a valid method of mitigating damages.

Morris v. McCarthy, No. 14-5074 (D.C. Cir. June 14, 2016)

The D.C. Circuit, in a Title VII race-discrimination case, hands down a mixed decision for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee. It reverses summary judgment on her challenge of a suspension, holding that she was entitled to a trial where there was evidence that the lower-level decisionmaker who prompted the action made racially-biased remarks, especially one directed at the plaintiff. Yet it affirms dismissal of her termination claim, concluding that the plaintiff failed to exhaust the exacting administrative requirements that apply to federal-sector workers.

Illinois Attorney General Files Suit Against Jimmy John's

In a civil complaint filed June 8, 2016, the State of Illinois alleges that the sandwich chain Jimmy John's violated the state's Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, 815 ILCS 50511, et seq., by requiring its store employees to sign aggressive non-compete agreements.

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