A Fifth Circuit panel unanimously affirms a jury verdict for a woman sales representative who suffered discrimination in compensation and termination, in violation of Title VII and Texas state law. The panel divides, though, on the question of the appropriate back pay remedy. It also divides on the question of how to apply the compensatory and punitive damage caps in a multiclaim case under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)
Employers like mandatory arbitration policies, and avoidance of judicial review - until they don't. Here's a case from the Second Circuit (decided 2-1) that affirms an arbitrator's interlocutory decision to allow a putative Title VII pay and promotion class action, over the employer's objection that it did not consent to such a procedure.
An employer can have the best anti-harassment policy that money can buy, at least on paper, but if it enforces the policy unevenly, the result can be even more legal trouble.
Two plaintiffs win at trial and, on appeal, achieve differing results. In the First Circuit, a Title VII plaintiff improves on her win by persuading the court (with an assist from the EEOC as amicus) that the number of employees in the "current or preceding calendar year" - for purposes of setting the damage cap under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3) - is based on the number of employees at the time of the act of discrimination, rather than at the time of trial. In the Fifth Circuit, the employee keeps her Equal Pay Act award, but loses a state statutory wage claim.
An EEOC charge, the essential first step to filing a Title VII (or ADEA or ADA) case, must characteristically include the basic information that makes up the employee's allegations against the employer. Regrettably, many employees stumble at this stage because they do not have an attorney. But a panel of the Sixth Circuit, dividing 2-1, holds that a bare-bones charge and accompanying "charge information form" was sufficient.
Employment-law litigators are well-familiar with the provisions of Title VII and other federal employment statutes that penalize retaliation against an employee who files a lawsuit. But the D.C. Circuit reminds us today that there is another pair of federal civil rights statutes that can cover the same claim, the post-Civil War laws 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985(2) and 1986. The court holds that the district court erred in dismissing these claims before trial.
The Wal-Mart decision winds down the current class action against the retail giant, but also - by a bare majority - nudges all of Title VII law, class and individual, back in a familiar and unwelcome direction.
To close out the week, how about a case where the employee - an FBI agent stationed in Saudi Arabia in the wake of 9/11 - was accused of wearing Saudi national clothing, thus "creating the impression he had 'gone native,'" and commissioning Saudi colleagues to find him a "suitable wife"? The agent complained that the charges were trumped-up retaliation for his complaints of race discrimination. The D.C. Circuit, remanding the case, discusses the scope of the national-security exception to employment law.
The First Circuit affirms a Title VII/Puerto Rican law verdict for the plaintiff, though remitting the award from $800,000 to nearly $450,000. The holding demonstrates that a half-hearted management response to sex harassment complaints can be as bad as no response at all.
A Title VII national-origin, race and retaliation opinion, amended and re-published today by the Tenth Circuit, creates a split with the Second Circuit, holding that an labor arbitration award - though admissible to prove or disprove a Title VII or § 1981 claim - does not entitle the award winner to a presumption in its favor in litigation.