The Fourth Circuit, while mostly affirming summary judgment, holds that the plaintiff - a former employee of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence - presented a genuine dispute of material fact on a claim of interference with Family and Medical Leave Act rights. The plaintiff complained that the agency failed to notify her of the right to medical leave when she presented as depressed in the workplace, complained about depression, and requested leave.
The D.C. Circuit, in a Title VII race-discrimination case, hands down a mixed decision for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee. It reverses summary judgment on her challenge of a suspension, holding that she was entitled to a trial where There was evidence that the lower-level decision maker who prompted the action made racially-biased remarks, especially one directed at the plaintiff. Yet it affirms dismissal of her termination claim, concluding that the plaintiff failed to exhaust the exacting administrative requirements that apply to federal-sector workers.
The Seventh Circuit announces that it is overruling language in employment-discrimination cases going back over twenty years, and reminding courts that an employee's own testimony is, if otherwise relevant, admissible to resist summary judgment. Such testimony will no longer be excluded as "self serving."
The D.C. Circuit remands a federal-sector race discrimination case for trial, where a jury will decide whether the agency's (alleged) inability to keep its story straight about the process it used to interview candidates - and then supposedly cancel a new GS-14 position - demonstrates racial bias.
While private-sector employees need merely comply with certain administrative prerequisites in order to file a Title VII civil action (principally, the filing of a timely EEOC charge), federal sector employees must fully exhaust all administrative remedies before they commence suit. The distinction, as illustrated by today's Eleventh Circuit decision, can pay important dividends. The panel here reverses judgment as a matter of law against a pro se applicant for a job at the U.S. DOT, and holds that the agency is barred from collaterally attacking an adverse finding on limitations in federal court that it lost and did not challenge before the EEOC.
May the federal government be sued in state court on a Title VII claim? Remarkably, the statute contains no provision for exclusive federal jurisdiction over such claims, and the Fourth Circuit splits 2-1 over whether there is concurrent jurisdiction.
On the heels of last week's Ninth Circuit decision in Shelley v. Geren, No. 10-35014 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2012), here's another federal-sector case involving a denial of promotion, brought under Title VII and alleging race and sex discrimination (and retaliation). The panel reverses summary judgment in part, finding that the plaintiff's unqualifiedly superior qualifications for the position - combined with the thinness of the agency's explanation for its decision - presented sufficient evidence for a trial.
The Ninth Circuit holds (2-1) that a federal-sector promotion process that weeds out a well-qualified older candidate for promotion, which then awards the job to the youngest applicant, and that was possibly influenced by data about the employees' projected retirement dates, presents a genuine issue of material fact about age discrimination under the ADEA.
Employees who believe they are not getting ahead in their jobs because of sex, race, disability, age or other factors, take heed: unless you actually apply for - or at very least, express interest in - a promotion, you may not have a claim for discrimination. Such an application is an important step to preserving your rights, even if you think the outcome is preordained against you.
In a recent decision of the Third Circuit, we are reminded that millions of federal civilian employees still have no protections against discrimination on account of gender orientation or identity.