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September 2016 Archives

Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC, No. 15-60562 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2016)

Undocumented workers are entitled to protection under Title VII and other federal employment laws, but many fear filing charges and lawsuits because they risk exposure, termination, and deportation. The Fifth Circuit addresses the delicate balance between the public interest in enforcing anti-discrimination laws and the right of an employer under federal discovery procedures to obtain evidence that is potentially important to its defense.

Paid Parental Leave Has Broad Business and Economic Benefits

As noted by Vogue Magazine, August marked the 23rd anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Though considered landmark legislation at the time, the law only provides for unpaid leave, and does not apply to a large percentage of Americans employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees. Seeking to correct this situation, four states - California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York - now have paid leave laws. Even in those states, however, there remain gaps, particularly when it comes to job protection.

Ernst v. City of Chicago, No. 14-3783 (7th Cir. Sept. 19, 2016)

It's rare for a federal court of appeals to toss a defense jury verdict in an employment-discrimination case, and rarer still for the panel to order entry of a judgment in favor of a plaintiff. Yet both things happened in yesterday's Seventh Circuit decision, which held that a group of female paramedic applicants proved they were unlawfully screened out of employment due to an unreliable physical-skills entrance examination.

Lawler v. Peoria School District No. 150, No. 15-2976 (7th Cir. Sept. 16, 2016)

One way that employers go wrong under disability-discrimination laws is writing off an employee with diagnosed mental disabilities as simply a difficult personality or a poor "fit" for the job. Here, a special-education teacher with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - who was denied a transfer to a less-stressful position and fired for supposedly creating "so much unnecessary drama" with co-workers - will have a trial, thanks to a recent Seventh Circuit decision.

EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, No. 14-13482 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2016)

May an employer deny employment to a Black applicant who would not cut her dreadlocks? A decision by the Eleventh Circuit yesterday goes to the very core of the anti-discrimination statutes: what does it mean to discriminate in employment on the basis of "race"? The panel unfortunately holds that "race" under Title VII is limited to "immutable" physical characteristics, rather than cultural and other traits associated with race. In so doing, it potentially creates a rift between two major federal race-discrimination statutes, Title VII and § 1981.

Smith v. LexisNexis Screening Solutions, No. 15-2329 (6th Cir. Sept. 13, 2016)

The Sixth Circuit reviews and affirms a $75,000 jury verdict for a job applicant whose employment background check was negligently performed, but vacates an award for punitive damages, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The case involves a scenario where an applicant's common first and last names triggered a false criminal report.

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