A considerable variety of employment law cases, especially when the employee’s claims relate to discrimination or retaliation, can succeed or fail based upon which side (employee or employer) presents a stronger case about whether the employer’s adverse action was legitimate or merely a pretext for engaging in illegal conduct. Many times, this may boil down to other employees working for the same employer and whether or not they qualify as “similarly situated” in relation to the employee who has sued. The case of a nurse from Florida allegedly fired for sleeping on the job offers a real-life example of this.
A nursing facility’s activities director got good news from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals when that court revived his Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuit, concluding that his retaliation claim was sufficient to escape summary judgment. Of larger significance, the 11th Circuit declared for the first time what the proper method was for measuring temporal proximity in circumstantial FMLA retaliation claims, establishing that the proper measure was the gap between the last day of FMLA leave and the date of the adverse employment action.
While much has been reported in the news recently in terms of bathrooms and civil rights, an Ohio public health agency employee’s Title VII lawsuit was a very different kind of bathroom case. The employee, a supervisory-level environmental health and sanitation worker, alleged that she suffered from workplace retaliation after informing office supervisors about an IT worker’s alleged misuse of a video camera. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals revived that employee’s case recently, deciding that the employee’s evidence created a possible conclusion that she suffered harm as a result of reporting the male co-worker’s alleged acts of sexual impropriety.
A 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.
It is often a tricky situation for an employer. You’ve approved an employee’s taking a certain amount of time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, only to discover soon thereafter that your employee wasn’t completely honest with you about his leave. When an employer encounters this issue, it is important to understand what the laws says are your options. In a recent case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, that court concluded that an employer couldn’t be liable for FMLA retaliation when it forced into retirement an employee whom it deemed to have misused his FMLA leave. The employer won because it had ample proof that the employee had been dishonest, and dishonesty and abuse of FMLA leave were permissible non-discriminatory reasons for the employer’s actions.
A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case may have resulted in an unfavorable outcome for one professor, but it could also provide benefits for some Tennessee employees pursuing Title VII cases in the future. The court, while rejecting this employee’s claim for back pay because it was too speculative, stated that employees could recover back pay from lost employment opportunities from third-party employers as long as the employee proved that she was entitled to the pay and offered sufficient evidence to establish the amount of lost back pay within a “reasonable certainty.”
Employers have a reasonably wide latitude in the non-discriminatory reasons that they state as bases for terminating employees. That latitude does not, however, extend to punishing an employee for “disruptive conduct” if the conduct in question was testifying on behalf of a co-worker in her Title VII discrimination case. A recent ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a terminated employee to pursue his retaliation claim. Testifying in a Title VII case is a protected activity under the law, and punishing him under the guise of “disruptive conduct” for giving unflattering testimony about his employer in his deposition raises a potential issue of retaliation.
An African-American customer service worker who was held back from promotion while other white coworkers with similar performance reviews were promoted had a potential claim for race discrimination and retaliation, according to a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The employee did not have a valid claim for constructive discharge, though. The decision is a reminder to Tennessee employees and employers of the higher level of intolerable conditions for a constructive discharge claim as compared to a retaliation claim.
A significant new ruling issued earlier this month by the U.S. Supreme Court offers very good news for employees who have been the victims of discrimination that was so bad that it ultimately forced them to quit their jobs in order to escape the mistreatment. According to the Court’s 7-1 majority, the statute of limitations for pursuing a discrimination claim does not even begin to run until the date the employee resigns, as opposed to the date of the last act of discrimination. This decision delays the start of that limitations period and gives employees in Georgia and across the country an expanded period of time to begin pursuing their claims.
The case leading to this ruling began in a post office in Colorado. Marvin Green, an African-American man, applied to be the postmaster of Englewood, Colorado. Another applicant received the job, and Green launched a claim, alleging that his rejection was the result of racial discrimination. According to Green, his supervisors responded to that action by threatening him with a criminal investigation on the basis of intentionally delaying the mail. Ultimately, the supervisors and Green worked out an agreement to avoid the investigation. Green would either accept a reassignment to the tiny and isolated town of Wamsutter, Wyoming (located four hours northwest of Green’s suburban Denver job) and the dramatic pay cut that went with it… or retire.
A pair of minority employees at a jail in Georgia lost the chance to go to trial on their claims that their employer committed racial discrimination and then retaliated against them when they filed formal complaints about the misconduct, due to their timing for suing their employer. The US District Court for the Middle District of Georgia decided that the employees’ claims were not filed within the period of time required by the law, so the case could not proceed.
The employees in this case were Justin Ramzy and Alicia Spearman, who worked as part of the medical team in the Muscogee County Jail. The employees, both of whom were African-American, suffered what they believed was racial discrimination at work. After Ramzy and Spearman filed a complaint about the discrimination in 2012, Ramzy was terminated the next year for violating medical team protocol regarding the recording of patient medical information. Ramzy claimed that other white employees did the same thing but weren’t punished. Spearman produced documents that backed up Ramzy’s claim.