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Workplace Sexual HarassmentThe hostile work environment case of one Georgia health care company employee offered a potentially novel and unique question, namely, can an employee pursue a hostile work environment case when she was not the victim of the alleged harassment and was not even present when the alleged harassment took place? In this case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals did not need to answer this question to rule in favor of the employer because the employee’s evidence fell short of the law’s requirement that the alleged harassment be both severe and pervasive.

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emotional distressA recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employees who suffer harm as a result of their employers’ Fair Labor Standards Act violations or acts of retaliation can pursue awards of damages for the emotional distress they suffered. While this standard of allowing emotional distress damages is new in places like Texas, a 2004 Sixth Circuit decision on the topic means that employees in Tennessee have had access to emotional distress damages awards for several years.

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Park maintenanceIf you’ve worked in most employment environments for very long, chances are you’ve seen it. “It” is the official job description of your job or the job you’re seeking. This description often contains a long list of “essential” duties, but some of those essential duties are, in the day-to-day completion of the job, rarely required. So what happens if you have a disability that impairs your ability to complete certain tasks that are “essential” but rarely needed? According to a recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, those uncommon tasks still matter. Since the duties listed in a county’s groundskeeper job description were all related to the essential demands of maintaining the county’s parks, the county was not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired a groundskeeper who could not perform all of the essential duties the county listed for that job.

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caneMost employers know that the law obliges them to accommodate their employees with disabilities, as long as the accommodation sought is reasonable. The question with which employers and employees often wrestle is “What is the limit of reasonable?” For example, if an employer has an employee with a disability who needs an accommodation that involves job reassignment, how far must the employer go to make that happen? Must the employer place the employee into an acceptable open position ahead of other, more qualified applicants? A recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision said no.

The employee in the case was a nurse at a psychiatric hospital in Tampa. The nurse was obese and had arthritis. Her condition eventually worsened to the point that she required a cane to walk anything more than short distances. The nurse had a doctor’s note recommending the use of the cane. The employer, however, was worried that one of the facility’s psychiatric patients might take the nurse’s cane from her and use it as a weapon. Based upon this concern for both employees and patients, the employer prohibited the nurse from using the cane.

The nurse requested that the employer reassign her to a new job as a reasonable accommodation. The employer agreed that it would be willing to do so, but only after the nurse competed for any desired position and was selected as the most qualified candidate. The nurse applied for several jobs but was never selected. Eventually, the hospital terminated her employment.

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university policeIn many types of litigation, timing can be crucial. This is true regarding how you go about carrying out your case procedurally, and it is often true when it comes to the facts of your case, especially if an employee is advancing a disability discrimination case based upon a denial of a leave request. In one recent case from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, that court upheld a lower court’s ruling for an employer. Since the employee was not able to do her job presently or in the immediate future, the employer’s denial of leave was not unreasonable.

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clock-inA multi-million dollar class action case involving numerous Tennessee cable TV installers who were wrongly denied overtime pay will once again go before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a very short order, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Sixth Circuit to take another look at the installers’ case in light of another case that, like the installers’ case, involved using statistical evidence to arrive at the amount of damages.

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nuclear plantThe government’s interest in protecting national security, including national security information, can be very wide-ranging. However, based upon a recent ruling issued by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, national security exceptions do not allow a government-run nuclear power plant to revoke a medical clearance in a way that constitutes discrimination. The ruling means that, without an applicable exception, the employer must face the disability discrimination claim of a nuclear plant officer who was fired after failing a pulmonary function test and losing his medical clearance.

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nurseA nurse was able to revive his Family and Medical Leave Act claim against his former employer after the employer failed to reinstate him from leave immediately after he informed the employer of his availability. Since reasonable jurors could disagree regarding whether the employer handled the reinstatement in a way that complied with the law, the nurse’s case was not one properly decided by issuing summary judgment, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided.

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gavelA woman who felt harassed at her job by a male co-worker took a cell phone picture to document the harassment to which she was subjected. For that, the employer terminated not the male employee but the woman, alleging that she violated workplace policies regarding taking other employees’ pictures without permission. The evidence the woman had was enough to support a sexual harassment claim, even if it wasn’t enough for a retaliation claim, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided.

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thomas county schoolsA groundbreaking 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which revived a Georgia school superintendent’s sex discrimination case, has paved the way to a $400,000 settlement award for the former superintendent, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise reported. The settlement marks the end to litigation that allowed the 11th Circuit to weigh in on how courts should handle cases like this one, in which there was a mixture of valid bases for the adverse employment action along with clear proof of gender-based bias.

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