In July 2019, the Taxpayer First Act ("TFA") was signed into law. It is intended to redesign the Internal Revenue Service to promote consistent application of federal tax laws and enhance the public's confidence in the IRS. Modeled after the whistleblower protection provisions of the False Claims Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the TFA extends anti-retaliation protections to insiders who report employers' suspected tax fraud and non-compliance.
Here's another case of a judge not thinking like a juror: most fair-minded people would consider it evidence of pregnancy discrimination that a manager launched an audit and started putting negative reports in an employee's file literally days after she announced her pregnancy. The district court judge did not get this, but the Second Circuit reverses and sends the case back for trial. The panel also addresses the standard for proving sex discrimination in pay under Title VII, outside of the "equal work" framework.
Some courts are still ruling on ADA cases as if the 2008 amendments never occurred. The Sixth Circuit reverses summary judgment in a case where the district court placed too high a burden on the plaintiff to prove she was disabled.
Here's a terse reminder that when an employer's supposedly "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reason for an adverse action is utterly contradicted by the undisputed timeline, then summary judgment most likely ought to be denied.
The Second Circuit, in an ADEA hostile work environment and retaliation case, reminds district court judges that they are not to weigh or evaluate credibility of evidence submitted on summary judgment. Among other things, the district court forgot that "[i]t was required to disregard the contrary statements from [defendant's witnesses] that a jury would not be required to believe."
Sex harassment is often conflated with sexual misconduct, yet belittlement of and failure to cooperate with women at work - no less than sexual comments or physical grabbing - violates their rights as well. The First Circuit sends such a case back for trial, also addressing when a non-employer may be liable for retaliation.
A reminder from the Fifth Circuit: a shift transfer can be a materially adverse action for retaliation purposes. "[A] retaliatory shift change that places a substantial burden on the plaintiff, such as significant interference with outside responsibilities or drastically and objectively less desirable hours, can dissuade an employee from reporting discrimination."
The Fourth Circuit cautions employees (and their counsel) that taking actions to support an EEOC charge are not "protected activities" under the "participation" clause of Title VII's anti-retaliation section if they violate state law. Here, the court affirms summary judgment in a case where the employee copied and delivered confidential personnel files to the EEOC, in violation of North Carolina law.
In a contentious 2-1 opinion, the Eighth Circuit holds that a job applicant who requests a religious accommodation - here, not to work Saturdays - is not engaged in a "protected activity" under the opposition clause of Title VII's retaliation provision.
In a short-but-sweet opinion, the Seventh Circuit reverses summary judgment in a Title VII retaliation case, where the district court failed to perceive a genuine dispute of material fact: specifically, when company management first became aware of the plaintiff's alleged violation of work rules. By the plaintiff's account, management knowingly overlooked her alleged breach .... until she complained about sex harassment.