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March 2013 Archives

Schumacher v. AK Steel, No. 12-3061 (6th Cir. Mar. 28, 2013)

A Sixth Circuit case demonstrates that a employee's release of claims, even a broad general release, may not be effective against ERISA claims. The court affirms class certification and liability in favor of the plaintiffs in a case where a class of release-signers challenged the calculation of their pensions. The court holds that the future accrual of retirement benefits may not be within the scope of a standard release.

Hudson v. United Systems of Arkansas, No. 12-2572 (8th Cir. Mar. 7, 2013); Al-Birekdar v. Chrysler Group, LLC, No. 08-3780 (8th Cir. Mar 11, 2013)

Two recent decisions from the Eighth Circuit serve as a reminder that employment discrimination and retaliation cases are being tried and employees are winning. In Hudson, the Court affirms a nearly $180,000 jury verdict in a Title VII and ADA discrimination case, including $100,000 in emotional distress damages. In Al-Birekdar, the court upholds a $200,000 verdict for retaliation under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

Helton v. AT&T Inc., No. 11-2153 (4th Cir. Mar. 6, 2013)

A recent ERISA case from the Fourth Circuit reaffirms that, sometimes, it is appropriate for a district court to consider evidence outside the administrative record in deciding whether the plan administrator abused its discretion in denying benefits. Here, the court upholds a judgment in the beneficiary's favor holding that she was erroneously denied early retirement benefits that she only belatedly learned were available to her.

McMillan v. City of New York, No. 11-3932 (2d Cir. Mar. 4, 2013)

Here's a potentially important case for disabled persons and their advocates residing in the Second Circuit (NY, CT and VT) and elsewhere. A panel reverses summary judgment in a case involving a city professional employee with schizophrenia under medication, holding that accommodations such as flex-time and unsupervised work may be reasonable in some instances. In this particular case, the record reflected that the employee had been so accommodated for ten years before a supervisor suddenly and inexplicably called an end to it.

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