Two more plaintiffs’ wins reported yesterday — the publication of a previously non-precedential Title VII case in the Ninth Circuit, and a partial reversal of summary judgment in a Title VII case, sending a retaliation claim back to the district court for trial in the Fifth Circuit.
Last spring, I wrote about an unpublished decision from the Ninth Circuit sending the Title VII termination claims of two women against Boeing back for trial (see entry for Apr. 8, 2009 here). That previously unpublished opinion was ordered published yesterday (in an expanded form) and can be found here: EEOC v. The Boeing Co., No. 07-16903 (9th Cir. Aug. 18, 2009).
Ikossi-Anastasiou v. Louisiana State Univ., No 06-3111 (5th Cir. Aug. 18, 2009): The Fifth Circuit reversed summary judgment in part in this Title VII/Equal Pay Act/state law case, affirming the firing of a college instructor (on limitations grounds), but sending the retaliation claim back for trial.
The plaintiff college instructor alleged that in response to letters that she wrote to the university administration complaining about discrimination, she was invoiced for sabbatical pay that was ordinarily not required to be returned: “Ikossi wrote [Associate Vice Chancellor] Benedict in early February disputing the accusation that she had accepted a permanent position with the Navy. She wrote that Benedict’s office never addressed any of Ikossi’s past complaints about discrimination and that Ikossi considered Benedict’s earlier letter ‘further indication of the disparate treatment’ she had endured for eight years. The next communication between Ikossi and LSU in the record is an August 1999 letter from LSU’s law firm to Ikossi’s lawyer stating that Ikossi had only a small amount of time to settle her claims against LSU (apparently the claims that constitute the instant case) in exchange for LSU dropping its demand for $42,907.79 of sabbatical pay.”
Because the defendant conceded that the demand for repayment constitutes an “adverse action,” the principal issue was whether the school’s demand was a form of settlement negotiations shielded by Fed. R. Evid. 408. The panel made short work of that argument: “Second, Rule 408 does not apply in this context. Rule 408 prohibits a party from introducing evidence of settlement negotiations when ‘offered to prove liability for, invalidity of, or amount of a claim that was disputed as to validity or amount, or to impeach through a prior inconsistent statement or contradiction.’ The evidence of LSU’s repayment demand was a letter that
Forest Benedict, Associate Vice Chancellor, sent to Ikossi at the end of January. This is the same letter that stated that her failure to return to work meant she had abandoned her position. This letter is not part of any settlement negotiations and is not excluded under Rule 408.”