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August 2010 Archives

Hatmaker v. Memorial Medical Center, No. 09-3002 (7th Cir. Aug. 30, 2010)

The Seventh Circuit enters into a long-standing split about what level of protection - for purposes of the Title VII anti-retaliation section - an employer must give the employee's "participation" in an internal harassment investigation prior to an EEOC charge being commenced. "Participation" means, under the statute, "because [the party] has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under [Title VII]." While some circuits have treated this section as essentially a litigation privilege, with nearly absolute protection against retaliation (even if the complaints are frivolous or false), the Seventh Circuit holds that (1) there is a good-faith requirement for "participation," and (2) in any event, "participation" means only involvement in an official Title VII proceeding.

Watson v. CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc., No. 09-3322 (8th Cir. Aug. 30, 2010); Sheriff v. Midwest Health Partners, No. 09-3367 (8th Cir. Aug. 30, 2010)

Plaintiffs score two wins in the Eighth Circuit today. In the first case, the panel reverses summary judgment in a race hostile-work-environment case with especially corrosive facts. In the second, the plaintiff wins affirmance of a jury verdict in a Title VII case; the panel splits over the question of what kind of record is required to support employee-numerosity for the damage-ceiling provisions in section 1981a(b)(3)(A).

EEOC v. UPS Supply Chain Solutions, No. 08-56874 (9th Cir. Aug. 27, 2010); Lewallen v. City of Beaumont, No. 09-40826 (5th Cir. Aug. 23, 2010)

The EEOC reverses summary judgment in an ADA reasonable accommodation case in the Ninth Circuit, concerning ASL interpreters for the deaf. And cheers to a tough trial team in Texas who prevailed in a equal-protection sex discrimination case against a city police department - also winning the appeal, in an unpublished Fifth Circuit opinion - showing all that it takes to win justice in one of these cases.

Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 07-2288 (7th Cir. Aug. 23, 2010); Jones v. Oklahoma City Public schools, No. 09-6108 (10th Cir. Aug. 24, 2010)

Two new opinions reminding us of two well-settled propositions in employment discrimination law: that a single act of sex harassment, if severe enough, may violate Title VII; and that ADEA plaintiffs do not have to meet a pretext-plus standard of proof to survive summary judgment.

Stagi v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, No. 09-3512 (3d Cir. Aug. 16, 2010)

The Third Circuit reverses and remands summary judgment, in a (surprisingly) unpublished opinion, for a putative class of female Amtrak employees who complained that "requiring all union employees to have one year of service in their current position before they could be considered for promotion has a disparate impact" in violation of Title VII.

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