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.
The Tenth Circuit continues a split in the circuits by holding - once again - that an employee must lodge separate EEOC charges for acts of retaliation that occur after the first charge is filed - in this case, even after a civil action is commenced. The Fourth Circuit fairly recently held otherwise.
Though you won't find this in the official advance sheets (it is officially non-precedential), it is nice to see yet another case holding that a sexually-hostile work environment may violate Title VII, even if it is not targeted at a particular female employee.
The Second Circuit becomes the first U.S. Court of Appeals to publish an opinion applying Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658 (2009), to a reverse-discrimination challenge to a Title VII settlement agreement. In a 139-page opinion, including a special concurrence, the panel remands a nine-year-old case to reconsider whether the Justice Department and New York City Board of Education had a "strong basis in evidence" that the Board's tests and recruiting practices violated Title VII.
A decision affirming the validity of an EEOC subpoena sheds a light on the continuing presence of racial segregation in the workplace. Whether benign or not, steering African-Americans or other ethnic minorities to particular offices or stores based on race is specifically unlawful under Title VII.
Hats off to the EEOC for persuading the Fourth Circuit to remand, for a trial, a claim that a manufacturer did not act quickly enough in 2005-06 to protect African-American assembly plant employees from a racially hostile environment. The court affirms judgment for the employer, on the other hand, on claims after that period when the employer picked up the pace and started disciplining and (in one case) firing the offenders.