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Daily Developments in EEO Law Archives

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).

Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp., No. 14-3792 (3d Cir. Jan. 11, 2016)

The Third Circuit issues a solid reminder to judges that - notwithstanding the increased attention on filing "plausible" complaints under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 - federal courts do not require the pleading of legal theories. Thus, plaintiffs are not required to specify the method that they plan to use to prove discrimination cases in their Title VII complaints.

Nichols v. Tri-National Logistics, Inc., No. 15-1153 (8th Cir. Jan. 4, 2016)

In the first-published federal court of appeals EEO decision of 2016, the Eighth Circuit  (in a 2-1 decision) reverses summary judgment in a sex harassment case. The plaintiff - a woman truck driver - was forced to share close quarters with a male co-worker for a week-long trip. The panel majority holds that a jury could find that the employer could have taken greater steps to prevent the harassment. 

Lounds v. Lincare, Inc., No. 14-3158 (10th Cir. Dec. 22, 2015)

The Tenth Circuit reverses summary judgment and remands in a section 1981 case involving harassment of a call-center's only black employee. The panel reminds district courts and litigants that even non-racial remarks, against a backdrop of racially-offensive chatter, may constitute harassment. It also notes that "whether a workplace environment is sufficiently polluted for purposes of a § 1981 claim should not be based on whether an alleged harasser possessed the motivation or intent to cause discriminatory harm or offense."

Liebman v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 14-13197 (11th Cir. Dec. 18, 2015)

The end of the year often brings a haul of decisions, when the courts of appeal clear their dockets for year's-end. Here's a short, to-the-point decision, reversing summary judgment on an ADEA and ERISA case where the district court judge misapprehended a controlling Supreme Court decision.

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