The current chaos in our lives includes a pandemic that has put over twenty million people out of work and the seemingly unceasing killing of Black people by police. But last week, we saw glimmers of hope for a better future.
The Seventh Circuit reiterates that the task of the district court deciding a motion for summary judgment in a Title VII case is not to "ask whether any particular piece of evidence proves the case by itself," but instead to aggregate the evidence "to find an overall likelihood of discrimination." The panel notes here that hiring procedures may have been twisted to favor male applicants for coaching jobs over the plaintiff.
On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit reaffirms its original en banc holding that a "factor other than sex" under the Equal Pay Act (29 U.S.C. §206(d)(1)) must be "job-related," and thus rejects an employer's use of pre-employment salary history as a reason to pay a woman less than a man doing the same work. The court once again overrules its prior decision on this subject, Kouba v. Allstate Ins. Co., 691 F.3d 873 (9th Cir. 1982).
When a former supervisor - later reassigned - tells an employee that they were not promoted because "[y]ou're not white" and "you're not female," can the statement be used to prove a discriminatory motive over a hearsay objection? A panel of the Ninth Circuit holds 2-1 that the statement is admissible against the employer as a party admission.
The Eleventh Circuit heightens the probability of Supreme Court review of a long-festering circuit split: just how "similarly situated" must a Title VII plaintiff be to a comparator employee in the workplace to establish a prima facie case of discrimination? The en banc court holds 9-3 that a plaintiff must demonstrate, at the first stage of the analysis, that she and the comparators were "similarly situated in all material respects."
One of the maddening things for employee advocates is how rules developed by the courts for one set of facts are used to swat down a case involving an entirely different set of facts. The First Circuit holds that's exactly what happened here, and reverses summary judgment when a judge used a standard developed for failure-to-hire cases to prematurely dismiss a forcible-transfer case.
In an important decision, the Ninth Circuit holds en banc that a "factor other than sex" under the Equal Pay Act (29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1)) must be "job-related," and thus rejects an employer's use of pre-employment salary history as a reason to pay a woman less than a man doing the same work. The court overrules its prior decision on this subject, Kouba v. Allstate Ins. Co., 691 F.3d 873 (9th Cir. 1982).
In the ceaseless struggle over what is meant by "similarly situated," an Eleventh Circuit splits over whether the plaintiff - a Black woman detective with a heart condition - presented enough evidence that two white male officers who failed a physical-fitness requirement were treated better. The case also considers, for an ADA claim, whether receiving a Taser shock or pepper spraying in training was an "essential function" of the job.
Given recent headlines about Uber and Google, it might be tempting to assume that tech is the only sector still facing stubborn problems with gender discrimination, hostile work environments, and sexual harassment. That certainly isn't the case, and one only has to look at the financial services industry to see that the issue is very prevalent in many other workplaces.
This takes the cake: an employee on the night shift at an Idaho supermarket is accused of (and fired for) taking a cake from the bakery's "stales cart" without permission to serve to co-workers. The Ninth Circuit thinks that a jury could find management's story unpalatable, though, and remands it for a trial.