When disasters strike - including the current coronavirus outbreak - price gouging, scams, and other fraud unfortunately follow. If the government is the entity being defrauded, however, whistleblowers have the power to expose the wrongdoing and protect the public, but they, too, need protection from unlawful retaliation.
The United States is facing an unprecedented pandemic of the highly contagious Coronavirus. Restaurant and hospitality workers in our nation's capital are at particular risk because of the high number of individuals with whom they interact each day. Although there is no federal law requiring private businesses to compensate workers for time off due to illness, the Washington D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act requires employers - including restaurants and bars - to provide paid sick leave.
The Second Circuit reminds courts that it is not necessary for a Title VII harassment plaintiff to prove specifically that there was physical contact, that their work performance suffered, or that they were personally targeted for harassment to prove that there was a "severe or pervasive" hostile work environment.
In July 2019, the Taxpayer First Act ("TFA") was signed into law. It is intended to redesign the Internal Revenue Service to promote consistent application of federal tax laws and enhance the public's confidence in the IRS. Modeled after the whistleblower protection provisions of the False Claims Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the TFA extends anti-retaliation protections to insiders who report employers' suspected tax fraud and non-compliance.
Here's another case of a judge not thinking like a juror: most fair-minded people would consider it evidence of pregnancy discrimination that a manager launched an audit and started putting negative reports in an employee's file literally days after she announced her pregnancy. The district court judge did not get this, but the Second Circuit reverses and sends the case back for trial. The panel also addresses the standard for proving sex discrimination in pay under Title VII, outside of the "equal work" framework.
Some courts are still ruling on ADA cases as if the 2008 amendments never occurred. The Sixth Circuit reverses summary judgment in a case where the district court placed too high a burden on the plaintiff to prove she was disabled.
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.
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."
Sex harassment is often conflated with sexual misconduct, yet belittlement of and failure to cooperate with women at work - no less than sexual comments or physical grabbing - violates their rights as well. The First Circuit sends such a case back for trial, also addressing when a non-employer may be liable for retaliation.
A reminder from the Fifth Circuit: a shift transfer can be a materially adverse action for retaliation purposes. "[A] retaliatory shift change that places a substantial burden on the plaintiff, such as significant interference with outside responsibilities or drastically and objectively less desirable hours, can dissuade an employee from reporting discrimination."