The Seventh Circuit's opinion contains useful guidance for employees suffering disability discrimination and harassment. One key takeaway: plaintiffs should not be quick to assume - in charging, pleading and proving a hostile-work-environment claim - that harassment always constitutes one continuing violation. "[A] substantial passage of time without incident known to the employer, a change in the employee's supervisors, [or] an intervening remedial action by the employer" may break the chain.
It's surprising that the district courts continue to get this wrong: the Tenth Circuit reverses summary judgment in an ADA case because the judge erroneously held that the plaintiff needed expert testimony to prove that she was disabled with a back injury.
A nurse is fired, supposedly for clinical errors, but an email is circulated to staff saying that she was fired because she "has been having major issues with her eyesight and as of late, it has seemed to be getting even worse." The Sixth Circuit finds that the email and other evidence present a triable case of regarded-as disability discrimination under the ADA.
The D.C. Circuit remands a summary judgment in a Title VII case, holding that the district court erred in not allowing the plaintiff to get discovery on whether "white . . . or male employees, were disciplined less severely for the sort of behavior for which Cruz was disciplined."
Here's a terse reminder that when an employer's supposedly "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reason for an adverse action is utterly contradicted by the undisputed timeline, then summary judgment most likely ought to be denied.
AOC in employment-law news: the Architect of the Capitol loses two Title VII appeals in the past week, both cases involving claims of denial of promotions due to national origin. Both shared the detail that supervisors allegedly mocked the plaintiffs because of their accents.
Federal courts seldom pause on the second stage of the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting test, whee the employer proffers its allegedly legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for taking adverse action against an employee. But in this case, the D.C. Circuit holds that it is not enough for the employer to simply advance a facially-neutral process without showing how it was specifically applied to the employee. This case could have special application in promotion and other processes involving large numbers of people and subjective criteria.
The Second Circuit, in an ADEA hostile work environment and retaliation case, reminds district court judges that they are not to weigh or evaluate credibility of evidence submitted on summary judgment. Among other things, the district court forgot that "[i]t was required to disregard the contrary statements from [defendant's witnesses] that a jury would not be required to believe."
The Eleventh Circuit heightens the probability of Supreme Court review of a long-festering circuit split: just how "similarly situated" must a Title VII plaintiff be to a comparator employee in the workplace to establish a prima facie case of discrimination? The en banc court holds 9-3 that a plaintiff must demonstrate, at the first stage of the analysis, that she and the comparators were "similarly situated in all material respects."
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.