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Daily Developments in EEO Law Archives

Nicholson v. Securitas Security Services, Inc., No. 15-10582 (5th Cir. July 18, 2016)

Here's another case involving a joint-employer relationship between a staffing agency and one of its clients. The Fifth Circuit reverses summary judgment, holding that There was a genuine dispute about whether the staffing agency should have known that the client asked it to reassign an employee for age-biased reasons.

Burns v. Johnson, No. 15-1982 (1st Cir. July 11, 2016)

One pernicious "stereotype is the idea that men are better suited than women for positions of importance or leadership in the workplace." Here, the First Circuit reverses summary judgment in a federal-sector Title VII case, citing (among other things) a male supervisor's allegedly hostile tone and emphasis on the word "she" when he acted to block the only woman in the office from performing her job. Oh, and There's a baseball bat in the case, too.

Guessous v. Fairview Property Investments, No. 15-1055 (4th Cir. July 6, 2016)

An Arab-American Muslim woman from Morocco alleges that she suffered years of ethnic and religious harassment by the company's Chief Financial Officer, and was then fired 75 minutes after complaining about it. The fourth Circuit reverses summary judgment on her Title VII and § 1981 complaint, in a blockbuster, 46-page opinion that straightens out several wrong turns that district courts take when ruling on dispositive motions.

Brown v. Smith, No. 15-1114 (7th Cir. June 28, 2016)

Here's a nice, short decision affirming a judgment of $25,200 in compensatory damages and $65,274.64 in back pay for an ADA plaintiff fired because of his insulin-dependent diabetes. The court underscores that the question of "essential function" under that statute is a factual one for a jury to resolve. And the court also holds that starting a business, even one that fails, is a valid method of mitigating damages.

Morris v. McCarthy, No. 14-5074 (D.C. Cir. June 14, 2016)

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.

Chambers v. Burwell, No. 14-5047 (D.C. Cir. May 31, 2016); Johnson v. Perez, No. 14-5034 (D.C. Cir. May 20, 2016)

In two recent federal-sector race discrimination decisions, the D.C. Circuit - while ruling in the employer-agency's favor - issued opinions that may be even more useful for employees in future cases. Both opinions criticized short-cuts sometimes used by district courts to improperly weigh summary judgment records.

Green v. Brennan, No. 14-613 (U.S. S. Ct. May 23, 2016)

In the Supreme Court's only substantive Title VII case this term, the six-justice majority takes a plaintiff-friendly view of when a claim for constructive discharge accrues - on the date that the employee declares his resignation - while Justice Alito's special concurrence and Justice Thomas's dissent would start the limitations clock with the last discriminatory event. The court also dispenses with the requirement (imposed by some courts) that hostile working conditions be created by the employer with the intent of making the employee resign.

Olivares v. Brentwood Indus., No. 15-2674 (8th Cir. May 13, 2016)

The Eighth Circuit today issued a short, cautionary opinion for plaintiffs who seek reinstatement (or front pay) in a discrimination case. Here, the employer - which the jury found liable for violating the employee's Title VII rights - escaped all but $1 of damages, where the district court found that reinstatement was not practical, and that the employee failed to make a strong enough case for front pay.

Legg v. Ulster County, No. 14-3636 (2d Cir. Apr. 26, 2016); Cooper v. N.Y. State Dep't of Labor, No. 15-3392 (2d Cir. Apr. 26, 2016)

Today's Two-fer Tuesday in the Second Circuit: a pregnancy discrimination case is returned for retrial, in light of the intervening decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1338 (2015); and a panel holds that a state human-resource professional's opposition to changes in the EEO complaint-reporting procedures is not a "protected activity" under Title VII.

Szeinbach v. The Ohio State Univ., No. 15-3016 (6th Cir. Apr. 20, 2016)

The Sixth Circuit holds, in an opinion that potentially expands remedies for Title VII claimants, that a back-pay award may include amounts that an employee could have earned from alternative employment, had the employer not engaged in discrimination or retaliation. Nonetheless, the court holds that the employee in this particular case failed to prove that she suffered such damages.

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