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February 2013 Archives

Desardouin v. City of Rochester, No. 12-187 (2d Cir. Feb. 19, 2013); Summa v. Hofstra University, No. 11-1743 (2d Cir. Feb. 21, 2013)

This week, the Second Circuit issued two opinions that at least partially reversed summary judgment in Title VII harassment and retaliation cases. In the first, Desardouin, the panel returned a sex harassment claim that concerned sexual comments made to the plaintiff weekly by her supervisor over a two to three month period. In the second, Summa, the court held that under Title VII (and Title IX, governing educational institutions), it can be a protected activity under the statute's anti-retaliation provisions to complain of even a single incident of alleged harassment.

NYC Council Passes Law Against Unemployed Discrimination

New York City is poised to protect the unemployed from discrimination. Recently, the New York City Council passed a law that would prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants because they are currently unemployed.

EEOC v. AutoZone, Inc, No. 12-1017 (7th Cir. Feb. 15, 2013)

The Seventh Circuit substantially affirms a judgment in favor of the EEOC on a hard-fought ADA reasonable accommodations case, concerning an employee forced to work beyond his medical restrictions. The judgment included an award of $100,000 in compensatory damages, $200,000 in punitive damages, and $115,000 in back pay, plus an injunction on AutoZone's anti-discrimination practices.

Kelley v. Correctional Medical Services, Inc., No. 11-2246 (1st Cir. Feb. 6, 2013)

A common scenario in employment cases is the manager or supervisor who overreacts to a blow-up at work by firing the employee. What the employer may deem as a measured response to insubordination can, after the fact, be held by a court or jury to be the culmination of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. In this case, the First Circuit returns just such a case for a trial, reversing summary judgment entered against a nurse who was fired after complaining that she was being worked beyond her restrictions.  

Family Responsibility Discrimination Alleged in Woman-Owned Organization

A recent lawsuit filed in California state court against The Oprah Winfrey Network sheds light on pregnancy and leave discrimination issues in the workplace.

Rapold v. Baxter International, No. 11-2715 (7th Cir. Jan. 31, 2013)

The Seventh Circuit issues a decision, in the context of a Title VII national-origin discrimination jury trial - which ended in a defense verdict - that the decision of whether to instruct the jury with a so-called "single-" or "mixed-" motive charge is for the judge, subject to review only for abuse of discretion. The decision will continue to fuel the on-going debate about the precise value of the 1991 Civil Rights Act "mixed-motive" section to employees.

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