On March 1, 2011, the Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit's grant of judgment as a matter of law for the employer in a Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) case (131 S. Ct. 1186 (2011)), where a jury found the company liable for discrimination under that act. In an unpublished coda, the Seventh Circuit remands the case for a new trial, and along the way tweaks the high court's opinion a bit.
The First Circuit affirms a Title VII/Puerto Rican law verdict for the plaintiff, though remitting the award from $800,000 to nearly $450,000. The holding demonstrates that a half-hearted management response to sex harassment complaints can be as bad as no response at all.
The Second Circuit, in an non-precedential opinion, reverses summary judgment and remands an ADEA and New York State Human Rights Act claim back to the district court for trial. The panel concludes that something seemed to smell when a 59-year-old auto service department employee was dropped in favor of 36-year-old, . . . .and the best that the employer could produce was affidavits of witnesses - years after the fact - disparaging the employee's organizational skills, flexibility and attitude.
A Title VII national-origin, race and retaliation opinion, amended and re-published today by the Tenth Circuit, creates a split with the Second Circuit, holding that an labor arbitration award - though admissible to prove or disprove a Title VII or § 1981 claim - does not entitle the award winner to a presumption in its favor in litigation.
A huge win today for participants in pension and other employee benefit plans. The Supreme Court today issued its opinion on the perennial issue under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) about what weight a court should give to a summary plan description (SPD) that materially contradicts a plan instrument. It reaches the surprising conclusion - contrary to the standing law in most circuits - that an SPD is not part of an ERISA plan and hence not enforceable under ERISA § 502(b)(1)(B). But it also holds that inconsistencies between an SPD and a plan may support judicial reformation of the plan under ERISA § 502(a)(3) and even monetary remedies in the form of "surcharge." This huge blessing for participants whose cases, up to this point, were often stalled by lower courts for want of "appropriate equitable relief."
The Tenth Circuit continues a split in the circuits by holding - once again - that an employee must lodge separate EEOC charges for acts of retaliation that occur after the first charge is filed - in this case, even after a civil action is commenced. The Fourth Circuit fairly recently held otherwise.
Plaintiff, a fired bridge crew member in Southern Illinois, wins the opportunity to try his claims of ADA regarded-as disability discrimination and retaliation against IDOT. Plaintiff claims that the agency believed him to be substantially limited in the major life activity of work, owing to his acrophobia, and that he was fired after complaining about being given dangerous duty beyond his limitations.
Though you won't find this in the official advance sheets (it is officially non-precedential), it is nice to see yet another case holding that a sexually-hostile work environment may violate Title VII, even if it is not targeted at a particular female employee.
The Second Circuit becomes the first U.S. Court of Appeals to publish an opinion applying Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658 (2009), to a reverse-discrimination challenge to a Title VII settlement agreement. In a 139-page opinion, including a special concurrence, the panel remands a nine-year-old case to reconsider whether the Justice Department and New York City Board of Education had a "strong basis in evidence" that the Board's tests and recruiting practices violated Title VII.
It is uncommon for a losing party to persuade a U.S. Court of Appeals panel to reverse its outcome on a motion for rehearing, but the age discrimination plaintiff in this case pulled it off, winning a remand (in a 2-to-1 decision) of his claim for a trial under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA).
A decision affirming the validity of an EEOC subpoena sheds a light on the continuing presence of racial segregation in the workplace. Whether benign or not, steering African-Americans or other ethnic minorities to particular offices or stores based on race is specifically unlawful under Title VII.