The Supreme Court in Oubre v. Entergy Operations, Inc., 522 U.S. 422 (1998), held that an ADEA plaintiff does not have to tender back (offer to return) consideration paid in settlement of a claim as a condition to challenge that settlement in court. Today, the Sixth Circuit (in a 2-1 decision) extends that ruling to Title VII and Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims.
Many immigrants in the U.S. who are not on the path to citizenship, particularly those previously protected by the DACA program, still pursue the American dream of a college education and buying their own home and car along with other major purchases.
Attempting to finance this dream, as many immigrants learn, can be an almost insurmountable goal. Unlike race and national origin, which may not be considered as factors for potential lenders, citizenship and immigration status is a more unsettled question.
Today's computer technology improves exponentially from year to year, putting tiny, yet ever more powerful, computers in the palms of our hands, on our bodies, or even under our skin. With the proliferation of wearable "Internet of Things" devices, many new technologies that track our physical and physiological traits are moving into the workplace - yet, our privacy laws are struggling to keep up. This gap between technology and the law can put employees' privacy rights at risk.
The Sixth Circuit affirms a jury award in an ADA case of $27,565 in back pay and $250,000 in compensatory damages, awarded to a dollar-store clerk who was fired for grabbing orange juice from the store fridge twice during diabetic episodes. The panel notes, among other things, that the failure to provide a reasonable accommodation can itself be direct evidence of discrimination.
Here's a valuable case for employees suffering harassment (and lawyers who bring such cases). The First Circuit reverses summary judgment for age-based and retaliatory hostile work environment, holding that the district court put the plaintiff to an impossible standard of specificity to prove individual incidents of harassment. It also holds that repeated threats of termination can constitute constructive discharge.
Two opinions this week highlight the power of retaliation claims: in each case, the principal discrimination claim failed on summary judgment, yet the retaliation claim was remanded for trial.
In 2011, researchers released the results of a study on nurses who acted as whistleblowers or were bystanders in a whistleblowing incident at work. The alarming reports of depression, distress, panic attacks, anxiety and increased reliance on cigarettes and alcohol, underscores that reporting wrongdoing in the workplace can cause serious emotional distress. Nevertheless, those damages can be difficult to quantify and prove at trial. Two recent cases show that some judges and juries are beginning to understand the toll blowing the whistle can take on employees, but challenges remain.
A few weeks ago, the California state legislature passed a bill that unequivocally prohibits employers from using an employee's prior salary, even in combination with legitimate factors, to justify a gender- and race-based pay differential for performing the same or similar work. The new legislation, which California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on July 18th, reflects a welcome trend both at the federal and state levels to combat a common pay practice that has perpetuated the gender pay gap for decades: basing new employee compensation on the applicant's salary history.
The Sixth Circuit holds that full-time, in-office attendance is not a per se "essential function" for purposes of the ADA, and must be established just like any other element of the claim. The court vacates summary judgment and remands a claim brought under the ADA, Title VII, and the FMLA that the employee needed a reduced schedule to accommodate her post-partum depression and separation anxiety.
The Fourth Circuit reverses summary judgment in a Title VII retaliation case, where the plaintiff's direct boss allegedly declared that she "wanted someone of a different race" in the job, then proceeded to subject her to "constant surveillance, badgering, and criticism." When the plaintiff "told the City that she intended to file a formal grievance" about the hostile work environment, the defendant fired the plaintiff the very next day.