Plaintiffs lately seem to be on a tear in the Seventh Circuit. Here's another reversal of summary judgment where the district court judge misapplied the McDonnell Douglas test to an Equal Pay Act case, earning the storied burden-shifting method of proof yet another swift kick by a Seventh Circuit panel.
Two appeals reviewing jury trials in Title VII cases came down today. In the first, the plaintiff - a physician - wins two claims at trial (retaliation and constructive discharge, centered on claims of racial discrimination), but loses the latter claim on appeal, necessitating a remand for recalculation of damages. In the second, the plaintiff lost her sex discrimination and retaliation trial, but the Seventh Circuit vacates and remands, criticizing the unnecessarily complicated and inaccurate jury verdict and instruction forms.
A federal district court in Houston, Texas held in order dated February 9, 2012 that an employer did not discriminate against a woman who alleged she was fired for asking for a private location to pump breast milk after she returned from maternity leave. This decision, though, is hardly the last word on the civil rights of nursing mothers.
A recent decision involving a Title VII disparate impact claim obtained by Outten & Golden from the District Court of Connecticut is gaining increasing attention from employment lawyers attempting to overcome challenges to class certification. The decision distinguishes the Supreme Court decision of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, and also highlights the continued importance of Second Circuit precedent in employment class actions brought under Title VII.
On the heels of last week's Ninth Circuit decision in Shelley v. Geren, No. 10-35014 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2012), here's another federal-sector case involving a denial of promotion, brought under Title VII and alleging race and sex discrimination (and retaliation). The panel reverses summary judgment in part, finding that the plaintiff's unqualifiedly superior qualifications for the position - combined with the thinness of the agency's explanation for its decision - presented sufficient evidence for a trial.
Suing your boss is just about the most stressful thing you can do, especially when you are claiming sexual harassment. Once you make such a claim, you can be sure your employer will say one of two things: either he will claim that nothing inappropriate ever happened, and Therefore you are delusional, or he will admit that something happened, but, whatever it was, it was either trivial or consensual (or both) and so you are a liar and a slut.
Recently, one of the women who have accused Herman Cain of making inappropriate sexual advances said (through her attorney) she did not want to identify herself publicly because she did not want to become "another Anita Hill." What does it mean to "be Anita Hill." Professor Hill's story is in many ways a story of perseverance over the expectations of her time about the role of women in the workplace. Then, and still now, coming forward and alleging harassment often requires speaking truth to power. Yet, as Cain's accuser's reluctance suggests, it also a choice not live in anonymity and to invite controversy and potential ridicule.
Herman Cain, a leading candidate in the primaries for the Republican nominee for president, confirmed today that he had been the subject of sexual harassment allegations while serving as the head of the National Restaurant Association. Coming in the wake of the twentieth anniversary of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the charges against Mr. Cain remind us how ever-present sexual harassment is in the workplace.
On October 15, 2011, twenty years after Clarence Thomas's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Hunter College held a conference with over 1,000 attendees honoring Anita Hill's courage during the confirmation hearings. The conference was co-hosted by Outten & Golden's own Kathleen Peratis and activist Letty Pogrebin. The inspiration for the conference arose, Professor Hill revealed, in part by a phone message just months earlier from Clarence Thomas's wife asking Professor Hill to apologize to Clarence Thomas for her testimony. After that call made national news, the public outcry demonstrated how strongly people still felt about the hearings today-a fact that the packed audience at Hunter College confirmed to be true. Remarkably, the audience consisted of men and women of all ages and races. It was a true testament that Anita Hill's legacy has and continues to impact generations of civil rights advocates.
Outten & Golden was horned to host Professor Anita Hill on October 12th at our office. Professor Hill discussed both her role in the evolution of raising awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace since the Thomas hearings twenty years ago, as well as the mes in her new book Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home (Beacon Press, 2011).