The Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion, issues an important remedies ruling under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The majority holds that a disability plan participant who was wrongfully denied benefits was entitled to both recovery of the benefit and disgorgement of the plan's profits from the delay of payment. The disgorgement remedy - affirmed by the panel majority - was $3.8 million, based on the finding that the plan treated the withheld benefit as general equity and earned 11 to 39% annually on the money.
Racial discrimination can be manifested subtly in numerous decisions, and slight deviations from procedure, over time. The Sixth Circuit reverses summary judgment in this Title VII and Ohio state law case, holding that an African-American plaintiff fired during a reduction-in-force (RIF) was entitled to a trial over whether the decision-maker - who allegedly gave minority employees harsher reviews - was motivated by race. An unusual factor here is that it was the employee rather than the employer who wanted to limit the range of comparable employees in evidence. The panel also considers the probative of "There discrimination" evidence against the decision maker.
The Sixth Circuit demolishes a popular defense tactic by employers in discrimination cases, holding that district courts should not readily entertain motions in limine to exclude evidence that are often filed after summary judgment motions fail. The panel holds that such motions often intrude on the jury's role as fact-finder, while denying employees the procedural protections of summary judgment. The court reverses the exclusion of evidence of comparative employees and remands an age and national-origin discrimination case for trial.
A Sixth Circuit case demonstrates that a employee's release of claims, even a broad general release, may not be effective against ERISA claims. The court affirms class certification and liability in favor of the plaintiffs in a case where a class of release-signers challenged the calculation of their pensions. The court holds that the future accrual of retirement benefits may not be within the scope of a standard release.
Here's a case that might make even stalwart advocates of civil rights re-examine their prejudices. The Sixth Circuit reverses summary judgment in case claiming that a village violated its duties under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act when it rejected a candidate for a lifeguard position on the ground that he is deaf. The panel finds that it will be up to a jury to determine whether the candidate could have performed the essential duties of lifesaving with accommodations. It turns out that there is a long and distinguished history of deaf lifeguards in the US.
Clearing up some confusion among the lower federal courts, the Sixth Circuit confirms that the Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA) § 301 does not supersede an employee's federal statutory right to file a civil action to remedy a violation of her rights under the ADA.
The Sixth Circuit, in a closely-watched EEOC case, reverses - in a 2-1 decision - judgment on the pleadings and summary judgment in a systemic Title VII sex discrimination case, challenging the company's alleged failure to fire women drivers. The panel finds that the EEOC stated a claim for pattern-or-practice liability, and that the district court erred on a host of rulings.
The Sixth Circuit provides the first definitive, court of appeals decision on a recurring issue: is it a fiduciary act, subject to ERISA § 404(a)(1), for a plan fiduciary to incorporate (in this case, allegedly untruthful) SEC filings by reference in a Summary Plan Description, thus potentially misleading participants about the risk of investing retirement money in the employer's stock fund? The Sixth Circuit holds that it is.
The Sixth Circuit holds in a 2-1 panel decision that an employer's demand that an employee "receive psychological counseling" and "see a mental health counselor as a condition to keeping her employment" may constitute a prohibited "medical examination" under 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A). The unanimous panel also holds that the employee need not actually submit to the demand to have standing to challenge it.
The Sixth Circuit returns a Title VII case for trial, concerning claims that the City of Toledo discriminated against an African-American manager in work assignments, pay and evaluations, and also retaliated against him because he assisted another employee in complaining to the city about race discrimination. The panel holds that the district court applied too strict a standard at the pre-trial stage of the case, demanding proof that the "real" reason for the adverse actions was race discrimination. It also holds that at trial on the retaliation claim, the district court erred by excluding evidence of "other acts" targeting co-workers for the same activities.