Plaintiff, a female employee, brought a sexual harassment and retaliation claim under the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Adm. Code §8-101 et seq. ("NYCHRL"), against her employer, claiming that her supervisor ran the office like a "boys' club" and subjected her to sexually suggestive comments including propositioning her for sex. The Second Circuit, in a 39-page opinion, reversed the lower court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims and remanded for trial, holding that Plaintiff's claims should be "broadly construed" under the NYCHRL's protections which are intended to go above and beyond the floor provided by federal law.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently released its 2012 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics which provides that although the number of sexual harassment charges filed has decreased from 7,809 in 2011 to 7,571 in 2012, the percentage of charges filed by males has increased from 16.1% to 17.8%. Although women are still filing the majority of EEOC sexual harassment charges, it is worth noting this significant increase in charges filed by men.
Two recent decisions from the Eighth Circuit serve as a reminder that employment discrimination and retaliation cases are being tried and employees are winning. In Hudson, the Court affirms a nearly $180,000 jury verdict in a Title VII and ADA discrimination case, including $100,000 in emotional distress damages. In Al-Birekdar, the court upholds a $200,000 verdict for retaliation under the Missouri Human Rights Act.
This week, the Second Circuit issued two opinions that at least partially reversed summary judgment in Title VII harassment and retaliation cases. In the first, Desardouin, the panel returned a sex harassment claim that concerned sexual comments made to the plaintiff weekly by her supervisor over a two to three month period. In the second, Summa, the court held that under Title VII (and Title IX, governing educational institutions), it can be a protected activity under the statute's anti-retaliation provisions to complain of even a single incident of alleged harassment.
The Seventh Circuit issues a decision, in the context of a Title VII national-origin discrimination jury trial - which ended in a defense verdict - that the decision of whether to instruct the jury with a so-called "single-" or "mixed-" motive charge is for the judge, subject to review only for abuse of discretion. The decision will continue to fuel the on-going debate about the precise value of the 1991 Civil Rights Act "mixed-motive" section to employees.
The Seventh Circuit, per Judge Richard Posner, reminds the lower courts once again that private-sector employees do not have an administrative "exhaustion" requirement under Title VII, and that disputed issues of fact about limitations periods belong to a jury, not the judge.
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 Fifth Circuit, applying 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 556 U.S. 249 (2009), holds that the UPS collective bargaining agreement did not "clearly and unmistakably" waive a driver's right to commence a Title VII sex discrimination suit.
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.
Here's a case that addresses the vexing question, "What happens when a key fact witness in a Title VII/ADEA trial - the defendant's decision maker - dies before he/she can offer testimony?" The Second Circuit's answer is that the employer in those circumstances can rely on circumstantial evidence, here a folder of resumes that the decision maker reviewed when making the hiring decision at issue. So holding, the court affirms a jury verdict for the school district, allowing the paperwork to stand in the place of live testimony about the reasons why the plaintiff was not hired.