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Daily Developments in EEO Law Archives

EEOC v. Rite Way Service, Inc., No. 15-60380 (5th Cir. Apr. 8, 2016)

The Fifth Circuit affirms that an employee interviewed as part of a company's internal investigation into sex harassment complaints is protected under the "opposition" prong of the anti-retaliation section of Title VII. Yet it also holds that the witness must manifest at least a "reasonable belief" that what she witnessed rose to a violation of that act.

Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America, et al., No. 15-888-cv (2d Cir. Mar. 17, 2016)

The Second Circuit, in reviving plaintiff Cathleen Graziadio's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference and retaliation claims, reminds employers that they share responsibility with employees to comply with FMLA requirements, and cannot place the burden entirely on the employee or, as the panel here admonished, fail to cooperate with the employee altogether. 

Santana-Diaz v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 15-1273 (1st Cir. Mar. 14, 2016); Arizona ex rel. Horne v. The Geo Group, No. 13-16081 (9th Cir. Mar. 14, 2016)

Here are two employment cases about second-chances. A plan participant who filed an ERISA claim too late under a contractual limitations period is rescued by a decision that the plan violated its duty by not telling the participant about the shortened deadline. The EEOC wins a second opportunity to advance claims on behalf of a class of female victims of harassment, in the wake of Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, 135 S. Ct. 1645 (2015).

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Assoc. v. U.S. Department of Labor, No. 13-35765 (9th Cir. Feb. 23, 2016); Joseph Cesarz et al. v. Wynn Las Vegas LLC et al., No. 14-15243 (9th Cir. Feb. 23, 2016) (consolidated opinion)

Quigg v. Thomas County school District, No. 14-14530 (11th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016)

The Eleventh Circuit adds its voice to the lower-court movement to abandon the McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), proof framework in discrimination cases - such as this one - where the plaintiff presents circumstantial evidence that bias was a motivating factor in an adverse decision. This could be the case that allows the Supreme Court to revisit this long-standing precedent.

Village of Freeport v. Barrella, No. 14-2270 (2d Cir. Feb. 16, 2016)

Is There Title VII "race" discrimination if the two competing candidates identify as "white"? The Second Circuit holds that this scenario may state a claim where one of the candidates is deemed to be of "Hispanic" ethnicity.

Wheeler v. Georgetown University Hosp., No. 14-7108 (D.C. Feb. 12, 2016)

The D.C. Circuit addresses an all-too-common scenario where the employer - without apparent explanation - arguably comes down hardest on the Black employee rule-breaker. The court reverses summary judgment in a case involving nurses, where the Black nurse was allegedly singled out and fired for violations of protocol during a single shift.

Smith v. Rock-Tenn Services, Inc., No. 15-5534 (6th Cir. Feb. 10, 2016)

The Sixth Circuit affirms a $300,000 judgment for the male victim of same-sex harassment under Title VII. The panel underscores the imperative for employers to be vigilant against complaints of sexual contact, even when the conduct (in a male-dominated workplace) might be characterized by some as "horseplay."

Flynn v. Distinctive Home Care, Inc., No.15-50314 (5th Cir. Feb. 1, 2016)

Taking sides in a widening split in the circuits, the Fifth Circuit holds that an independent contractor - here, a pediatrician working on an United States Air Force base - can bring a claim for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 against the clinic where she practiced.

Navigating the Fissured Workplace: New Guidance from the DOL on Joint Employment

Last Wednesday, the Department of Labor issued guidance to clarify employees' rights and employers' obligations in an increasingly fragmented workplace. The Department of Labor Administrator's Interpretation (AI) No. 2016-1 addresses Joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).

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