SW Legal Educational Publishing
SOUTH-WESTERN LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS CASE UPDATES—EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
SW Legal's Case Updates is a SW Legal Studies service to provide briefs of the latest state and federal court cases. Review the summaries and, for cases of interest, select the case brief. If you cannot find a case of interest, return to Topic Index .
Title
Summary
Employees Must Provide Access to Social Network Sites for Litigation Purposes
Briefed Case

Employees who sued for sexual harassment must allow defendant employer access to all materials posted on social network sites, such as Facebook, during the time in question as the information and photos posted may be relevant to the claims made.
(Updated November 2010)

Problems Caused by Medicine Not a Disability
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that the side effects of medicine used by an employee that caused a significant reduction in time worked per day, was not a disability that gave rise to a claim for disability discrimination when the employee was laid off due to low productivity.
(Updated June 2010)

Faculty Member Failed to Make Prima Facie Case for Discrimination Claim
Briefed Case

A woman faculty member, who had suffered from cancer, failed to show that she was discriminated against either on the basis of sex or disability. Since she could not show that she was differently treated as a result of sex or disability, she failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination that could proceed.
(Updated March 2010)

Sex Discrimination Applies to Business Relationships
Briefed Case

New Jersey appeals court held that a woman who suffered the loss of a large sale contract with a customer, because she failed to submit to sexual demands, could pursue a claim of sex discrimination against the customer for tying the business relationship to sexual favors.
(Updated March 2010)

Negative Finding by EEOC May Not Be Introduced at Trial
Briefed Case

After an EEO office issued a no reasonable cause of action letter based on its review of a discrimination compliant, the plaintiff sued for discrimination anyway. The trial court admitted into evidence the negative finding of the EEO office. Appeals court held it impermissible to enter the letter into evidence.
(Updated March 2010)

Disability Employment Discrimination Suit May Be Brought by Independent Contractor
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an independent contractor has the right to sue for employment discrimination based on disability under the Rehabilitation Act, which applies to employers that receive federal funding.
(Updated February 2010)

Sex Discrimination Claim May Not Be Based on Discrimination for Sexual Orientation
Briefed Case

District court dismissed a suit brought by a city worker who claimed hostile work environment based on sexual preference. The case was dismissed because sexual preference is not covered by Title VII. Further, his employer had the right to reassign him to another position in the organization regardless if the motive for the assignment was based on sexual orientation.
(Updated February 2010)

Employer Cannot Demand Medical Examination Beyond Job Necessity
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a physical capacity evaluation given to an employee who had undergone surgery went beyond determining if the employee could handle the physical requirements of the job; it amounted to a physical examination that gathered other health information.
(Updated November 2009)

Military Status Requirement Eliminated Cause of Action for Employment Discrimination
Briefed Case

West Virginia high court held that because state law required that firefighters for the Air National Guard must be members of the Air National Guard, once a member of the Guard had been dismissed from the Guard due to mental disability, he was no longer eligible to be a firefighter so could not bring suit for disability discrimination.
(Updated September 2009)

Trial Judge Need Not Give Jury Instructions Demanded by Plaintiff
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a trial judge gave proper instructions to a jury in a discrimination suit. The judge gave a basic explanation of what was needed for the plaintiff to prevail, but would not give instructions requested by the plaintiff. That decision was for the trial judge to make.
(Updated September 2009)

Employee Who Opposes Discrimination Due Protection against Retaliation
Briefed Case

Supreme Court held that an employee who did not report sex harassment, but, during an internal investigation stated that she had been subject to harassment and was fired, has the right to proceed based on a claim of retaliation.
(Updated August 2009)

Police Department May Bar Officer from Wearing Muslim Headscarf
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that the Philadelphia police department policy of religious neutrality, which was enforced by its policy of no religious ornamentation or clothing, did not discriminate against a Muslim officer who wanted to wear a headscarf when on duty. To allow an exception would create an undue hardship on department operations.
(Updated August 2009)

Aggressive Methods Used by EEOC Justify Award of Attorney Fees to Defendant
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a district court properly granted attorney fees to defendant employer accused by EEOC of disability discrimination. The employee in question was not disabled and the EEOC refused to negotiate with the employer. It made exorbitant demands only by litigation, which is not proper process.
(Updated August 2009)

Law Enforcement Exemption to ADEA Rules Must Be Justified
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that while Congress allows law enforcement agencies to have hiring rules that allow them exemptions from the ADEA, such rules must be shown to be bona fide, not a pretext to evade the purpose of the law.
(Updated May 2009)

Formal EEO Process Begins When Notice of Claim Given to EEOC
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that formal process under Title VII begins when an employee files notice of a claim with the EEOC as required. Since the employer waited until the employee filed suit to inform its liability insurer of the employee’s action, the employer lost the right to have the insurer defend the suit.
(Updated May 2009)

Driving Not a Major Life Activity under Disability Law
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employee who had to drive as part of her job, and was fired when she was diagnosed with epilepsy and told by her doctor not to drive, was not disabled for purposes of the ADA because driving is not a major life activity.
(Updated January 2009)

Pervasive Sex-Specific Language May Be Basis of Hostile Work Environment
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a claim of hostile work environment based on sexual harassment could proceed. While none of the actions or the language involved qualified as “severe” there was evidence that it was pervasive and affected the employee’s work performance.
(Updated January 2009)

Loss of Security Clearance Proper Grounds for Loss of Employment
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a government employee who sued for discrimination based on his religion and national origin had no suit as the reason for his loss of employment was the loss of his security clearance, a necessary condition of continued employment.
(Updated January 2009)

Same-Sex Staffing for Juvenile Facility Violates Title VII
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a same-sex staffing policy at a juvenile detention facility could not be defended as a bona fide occupational qualification. The employer did not provide sufficient evidence to show that such staffing could be justified.
(Updated October 2008)

Employers, Not Managers, Liable for Retaliation
Briefed Case

Supreme court of California held that under the California law against employment discrimination, an employer may be liable for retaliation against an employee who exercises rights under the law, but individual managers who may have participated in the retaliation are not liable.
(Updated October 2008)

300 Day Filing Limit Rule Strict When One Incident Major Basis of Title VII Complaint
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that firefighter applicants that waited over 400 days to sue, contending that the application test was biased against African-American applicants, lost the right to bring a Title VII complaint because the filing was past the 300 day time limit of when the injury occurred.
(Updated October 2008)

Fired Employee May Have Suit for Disability Association Discrimination
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a disability discrimination claim may proceed in a case where an employee claimed she was fired because of high medical costs incurred by her husband under her health benefits plan. Such “association discrimination,” in an effort to avoid such expenses, is a violation of the ADA.
(Updated September 2008)

Punitive Damages without Compensatory Damages May Be Awarded
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that where an employer allowed a racially hostile work environment to exist for years, there was no violation of due process for a jury to award plaintiffs punitive damages but no compensatory damages. The law does not require compensatory damages to exist to justify punitive damages.
(Updated June 2008)

Employer Must Attempt Reasonable Accommodation of Religious Preferences
Briefed Case

Massachusetts high court held that an employer was liable for discrimination when it fired an employee who would not work on his Sabbath. The employer made no effort to provide accommodation by seeing if schedule swaps could handle the matter or not.
(Updated June 2008)

Employer Has Duty to Discuss Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Employee
Briefed Case

Connecticut high court held that an employer who dismissed a disabled employee without discussing reasonable accommodation, to determine if the employee could perform his job with accommodation, violated the law against disability discrimination.
(Updated May 2008)

Medical Dope Smoking Need Not Be Tolerated by California Employers
Briefed Case

California high court held that the legality of marijuana use for medical purposes only applied to state criminal matters; it did not require employers to allow disabled employees to use marijuana as an accommodation.
(Updated February 2008)

Terminated Employees Fails to Establish Prima Facie Case of Discrimination
Briefed Case

Appeals court affirmed that a terminated employee failed to establish a prima facie case of either sex discrimination or age discrimination. The employer provided legitimate reasons for termination that were not age related and the alleged favoritism to women was not shown to affect his position.
(Updated December 2007)

Employees Pressured to Retire Stated Claim for Age Discrimination Suit
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that two waitresses who claimed they were pressured to retire and given inferior assignments and time schedules, had made a sufficient claim of age discrimination for their suit to proceed.
(Updated October 2007)

Employee May Be Fired for Improper Message Related to Alleged Harassment
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employee had no cause of action for sex harassment. He claimed to have been harassed by another employee, but failed to complain to the employer. He was fired after he sent the other employee an unsigned message telling him to “stop.” That communication was not protected.
(Updated October 2007)

Obesity Not a Protected Class; If It Is a Disability, Employee Failed to Provide Evidence of Discriminatory Treatment
Briefed Case

Court dismissed a suit by an employee who claimed she was subject to discrimination and hostile treatment because of obesity. Obesity is not a protected class. If it is a disability, the employee failed to show discriminatory treatment on that basis.
(Updated August 2007)

Prevailing Party May Get Attorney Fees Even if No Damages Awarded
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld a decision that an employee who prevailed in a discrimination case, but was not awarded damages, could still be awarded attorney fees, as permitted by law at the discretion of the trial court.
(Updated August 2007)

Employee Must Raise Evidence of Discriminatory Treatment to Have Case Proceed
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a Title VII suit could not proceed because the employee failed to meet the fourth part of the prima facie test-showing that he suffered an adverse employment action on the basis of national origin.
(Updated August 2007)

Damages of $700,000 Awarded to Bilingual Workers Forbidden from Speaking Spanish at Work
Briefed Case

Trial court awarded 13 former employees a total of $700,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for the retaliation they suffered, including dismissal, for their protesting an English-only policy adopted by their employer. Employees were allowed to speak Spanish only to Spanish-speaking customers.
(Updated August 2007)

Failure to Cover Contraception Not in Violation of Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a company medical plan that excluded the costs of contraception was gender neutral, so was not sex discrimination, and did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act since contraception is not a medical treatment for pregnancy.
(Updated June 2007)

Retaliation May Exist Even if Employee Not Demoted
Briefed Case

Supreme Court held that the retaliation provision of Title VII is broad in application. Any action taken by an employer that a jury finds to be “materially adverse” to an employee is an issue properly for review by a jury.
(Updated May 2007)

Courts May Not Take Discrimination Suits That Fall Under Ministerial Exception
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that due to First Amendment freedom of religion, federal courts are precluded from subject matter jurisdiction over employees of religious organizations who fall under the ministerial exception.
(Updated March 2007)

City Cannot Justify Forced Racial Balancing of Employee Assignments
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a city violated the equal protection rights of employees who were forced to transfer so as to achieve racial balance at all fire stations in the city. The city failed to show a compelling interest that could justify such a policy.
(Updated February 2007)

Morbid Obesity Not an ADA-Protected Disability Unless Physiological
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employer was not liable under the ADA for dismissing an obese employee. The weight affected his ability to perform his job. Morbid obesity is not a disability unless it is physiological in origin.
(Updated January 2007)

Employer Liable for Dismissal of Employee Regarded as Having Disability
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a jury could find that an employer dismissed an employee with hepatitis because the employer regarded the employee as disabled and the jury can determine if punitive damages for malicious action by the employer are justified.
(Updated January 2007)

Unequal Pay May Be Justified By Different Work Output
Briefed Case

Appeals court accepted the explanation of a car repair shop that a white employee was paid almost double the pay of a Hispanic employee because the pay was based on the quantity of repair work performed per hour.
(Updated January 2007)

Harassment in Retaliation for Title VII Complaint Creates Basis for Claim
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that where an employee is subject to harassment in retaliation for a previous claim of discrimination, a hostile work environment claim may exist even if there is no demotion or dismissal.
(Updated August 2006)

Kidney Failure Is a Disability
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employee who suffered kidney failure that required regular dialysis was disabled. As such, he can pursue his claim for discrimination for not being promoted in favor of a candidate who appeared to have been less qualified but not disabled.
(Updated July 2006)

Making Employee Move to Avoid Sexual Harassment May Be Adverse Job Action
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employee could win a judgment against a former employer who transferred him to a position 120 miles away from where he had been working so as to get him away from sexual harassment on the job.
(Updated March 2006)

Sexual Favoritism Can Be Basis for Sex Discrimination
Briefed Case

California high court held that a cause of action existed for sex discrimination by a woman who was passed over for promotion in favor of a less qualified woman who was having an affair with the supervisor doing the hiring. It was part of a pervasive demeaning work atmosphere for women.
(Updated February 2006)

Medical Leave Policy Does Not Discriminate Against Pregnant Women
Briefed Case

New Jersey high court held that an employer that allowed employees to take up to 26 weeks medical leave and then return to work or be fired was a neutral policy that did not discriminate against pregnant women.
(Updated February 2006)

Employer’s Offer to Help Employee with Sexual Harassment Claim Is Affirmative Defense
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an employer had an affirmative defense against an employee who claimed he was constructively discharged due to sexual harassment. The employer offered to help the employee, but he rejected assistance.
(Updated February 2006)

Use of Personality Tests to Uncover Possible Mental Problems Violates ADA
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that for an employer to give a personality test as a condition of employment violates the ADA when the test is used to uncover possible mental disorders as such a test is a medical examination, even if medical personnel are not used in the process.
(Updated November 2005)

Transsexual Protected Against Sex Discrimination in Employment Decision
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld a verdict in favor of a police officer whom the jury found to have not been promoted because he was a transsexual in the process of becoming a woman. Sex was the improper motivating factor in the employment decision.
(Updated August 2005)

Circumstantial Evidence May Prove Age Discrimination
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that so long as a claim of age discrimination meets the McDonnell-Douglas prima facie test, the suit may proceed. If there is not direct evidence of discriminatory intent, circumstantial evidence can be sufficient for plaintiff to prevail.
(Updated July 2005)
ADEA Permits Disparate-Impact Cases Just Like Title VII
Briefed Case
Supreme Court cleared up decades of confusion by holding that an age discrimination claim based on disparate impact may be brought under the ADEA. The language of the ADEA and Title VII are nearly identical as to causes of actions.
(Updated May 2005)
Equal Job Titles Does Not Mean Equal Pay Is Deserved
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the Equal Pay Act was not violated by a county that paid two women department heads less than some men department heads. The pay differential was justified by educational levels required for some positions and additional duties required of others.
(Updated May 2005)
Hospital Must Prove That Hiring Male Nurses in OB Ward Would Be Harmful
Briefed Case
High court of SW Legal Virginia held that for a hospital to be justified for refusing to hire a qualified male nurse to work in the obstetrics ward, it must prove that sex is a bona fide occupational qualification and that the service or patients would be adversely affected by the presence of male nurses.
(Updated March 2005)
Age Difference in Age Discrimination Case Less Importance than Substance of Case
Briefed Case
Ohio high court held that a 49-year-old person who was fired and replaced by a 42-year-old had a prima facie case of age discrimination. The fact that the two are not far apart in age is not as important as an inquiry into the reason for the dismissal-was it based on age or not?
(Updated March 2005)
Two Causes of Action May Apply to Sex Harassment Case
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a woman who contended that she was fired for refusing to submit to repeated sexual advances may sue on the basis of hostile work environment and for discrimination based on an adverse employment action.
(Updated December 2004)
Company May Be Liable for Hidden Bias by Supervisor
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that if an employee could show that his termination involved age discrimination by a supervisor, who claimed to have fired him for financial reasons, then the company could be liable even though it had no knowledge of the bias because it gave the supervisor authority to make the decision without adequate internal review.
(Updated December 2004)
Employer Failed to Have Policy or Process to Deal with Religious Discrimination
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an employee who was fired after he complained about being discriminated against on the basis of religion established a prima facie case because the employer failed to have an antidiscrimination policy or complaint process.
(Updated November 2004)
Alcoholism Not Necessarily an Impairment for Disability Purposes
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a company fired an employee for drinking on the job in violation of company rules. While the employee was an alcoholic, his work performance was good, so he was not dismissed because of his condition.
(Updated April 2004)
ADEA Protects Relatively Old Workers Compared to Relatively Young Workers
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that a change in company benefits that reduced retirement benefits for workers then under age 50 was not age discrimination. The concern of the ADEA is to protect relatively old workers in contrast to relatively young workers, so the workers age 40-49 could not claim the Act had been violated.
(Updated April 2004)
Management Discussion Provided Evidence of Age Discrimination Intention
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a jury properly found a company to have engaged in age discrimination when it dismissed an older sales representative in favor of a younger person. There was sufficient evidence of the company's decision to establish a younger sales force and push out the older representatives.
(Updated March 2004)
Jury Verdict for Harassment Victim to Be Overturned if Supporting Evidence Absent
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a trial judge was wrong to set aside a jury's verdict of $242,000 damages in a sexual harassment case and instead grant $10,000 in damages. A verdict is to be overturned only if there was no evidence to support the verdict or the amount shocks the conscience of the court.
(Updated February 2004)
Improper Use of Medical Information May Violate ADA Even if No Disability
Briefed Case
Court rejected an employer’s request to dismiss a suit brought by a former employee who sued for violation of the ADA for sharing medical information about the employee with prospective employers. Even if the employee is not disabled, improper use of medical exams and information is a violation of the ADA.
(Updated February 2004)
Retaliation Cases under ADA Have No Right to Jury Trial or Compensatory or Punitive Damages
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the decision of a trial court that a suit for retaliation under the ADA does not have a statutory basis to request compensatory or punitive damages, only remedies in equity. Hence, there is no right to a jury trial.
(Updated February 2004)
In Age Discrimination, Replacement Worker Should Be "Substantially Younger"
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a manager who was demoted for poor performance and replaced by a person six years younger, failed to provide a prima facie case of age discrimination. Absent other evidence, the age difference must be greater for there to be a presumption of discrimination in the employment action.
(Updated January 2004)
Sanctions Imposed on EEOC for Failure to Follow Proper Procedure
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the imposition of financial sanctions on the EEOC for failing to follow the procedure mandated by Title VII to attempt to conciliate disputes with employers. The agency sued the employer without offering any basis for liability and ignored the employer's offer to engage in conciliation talks.
(Updated October 2003)
State Statute of Limitations Used When Federal Civil Rights Statute of Limitations Not Set
Briefed Case
In a case that claimed intentional discrimination in employment in the 1950s and 1960s, the Appeals court held that since the federal civil rights act invoked did not specify a statute of limitations, the courts look to the closest state statute for guidance. The two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases had been exceeded, so there could be no case.
(Updated July 2003)
Sales Clerk at Sex Shop Could Suffer Sexual Harassment
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld a claim of sexual harassment by a sales clerk at an adult sex-products shop who claimed that he was subjected to a hostile work environment by his supervisor because of the treatment he suffered related to use of sex products.
(Updated July 2003)
Applicant Denied Promotion Failed to Show He Was as Qualified as Employees Selected
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit for age and race discrimination because the plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for discrimination. The two employees selected for promotion had more relevant experience for the positions, and there was no evidence that race or age was a factor.
(Updated June 2003)
Taking Prescription Drugs Does Not, By Itself, Make a Person Disabled
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that, contrary to the EEOC's position, a trucking company could refuse to hire as truck drivers persons who took prescription medications that could have harmful side effects. Just because a person takes prescription medicine does not mean they are disabled or perceived as having a disability under the ADA.
(Updated April 2003)
Health Care Plan Need Not Provide Coverage for Infertility Treatment
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an employer's health care plan did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act for not providing coverage of surgery to deal with infertility. The plan did not provide such benefits to either men or women, so the fact that certain procedures are only for women is irrelevant.
(Updated April 2003)
Supervisor's Statements Create Prima Facie Case of Discrimination
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that statements made by a supervisor about a fired employee presented sufficient evidence of discrimination based on sex and national origin. The employee's suit should proceed.
(Updated March 2003)
No Title VII Suit Unless Employer Has Required Number of Employees
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit for sexual harassment because the employee could not show that the employer had more than 14 employees during 20 weeks of any year when the employee worked. Title VII suits require at least that employee count for the law to be available to employees.
(Updated March 2003)
Supervisor's Remarks Provide Basis for Age Discrimination Suit
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the remarks of a supervisor about an employee's age, which preceded his being fired, provided a prima facie basis for an age discrimination suit that put the burden on the employer to show that the reason for the dismissal was not age related.
(Updated March 2003)
Sexual Harassment Based on Homosexuality May Be Basis of Title VII Action
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an openly gay male who contended that he was subject to constant physical and verbal harassment at work by male co-workers because of his sexual orientation has a cause of action to sue his employer under Title VII which prohibits all sexual harassment.
(Updated February 2003)
Physician with Sleep Disorder Loses License; Not Qualified for Disability Protection
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the decision of a state medical licensing board to revoke the license of a physician who suffered from a sleep disorder that caused him to endanger patients during surgery. ADA protection is not available because no reasonable accommodation is possible.
(Updated January 2003)
Veganism Not a Religion for Purposes of Employment Discrimination
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed that a person denied employment because of his vegan beliefs could not sue for religious discrimination. Veganism involves various beliefs that do not rise to the level of a religious creed.
(Updated January 2003)
No Front Pay Award for Employee Sent to Prison
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that when an employee is convicted of a crime, and blames the commission of the crime on discrimination he suffered at work, as a matter of law the employer is not responsible for the crime and cannot be responsible for future wages the employee would have earned.
(Updated January 2003)
Constructive Discharge Occurred When Employee Left Under Supervision of Harasser
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed verdict against an employer that failed to respond to a complaint by an employee that her supervisor was sexually harassing her. Failure to respond to the complaint means the company loses the defense that it has an effective harassment policy.
(Updated December 2002)
Diabetes Treatment Does Not Constitute Disability Under ADA
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed that diabetes is not a disability under the ADA when diet and insulin can control it. An employee does not have the right to have their work schedule altered to take a longer-than-usual lunch break for the purpose of eating particular foods and taking insulin.
(Updated December 2002)
Reverse Age Discrimination Meaningless at Law
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that reverse age discrimination is meaningless at law. There is either age discrimination or not. For an employer to give better benefits to workers over age 50 than to workers between ages 40 and 49 may be age discrimination.
(Updated December 2002)
No Religious Discrimination Possible If Employer Ignorant About Complainant's Religion
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that when an employer refused to hire a person, who then contended that he was not hired because of his religion, that a prima facie case was not established because the complainant could not show that the employer knew of the complainant's religion.
(Updated December 2002)
Some Discriminatory Acts That Occur Before the 300-Day Filing Period Are Actionable
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that discriminatory acts that occur before the 300-day filing requirement of Title VII may be actionable if they are related to acts that occurred within the 300-day period that are part of a hostile work environment.
(Updated July 2002)
Reasonable Accommodation Is Not to Upset Seniority Systems
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that in general seniority systems are protected from being upset by a disabled person demanding a position that would otherwise go to an employee with greater seniority and rights to the position under company work rules.
(Updated July 2002)
Meeting McDonnell Douglas Test Establishes Prima Facie Case of Employment Discrimination
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that if an employee files a complaint against an employer for employment discrimination, as long as the McDonnell Douglas four-part test has been met the employee has provided enough for the complaint to proceed; no specific facts to prove discrimination need be provided in the complaint.
(Updated April 2002)
Overtime May Be Essential Requirement of a Job
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that when a job category routinely requires employees to work 60-80 hours per week, if a disability does not allow an employee to work more than 40 hours per week, then there is no obligation to restructure the workforce to accommodate the smaller workload.
(Updated March 2002)
Federal Safety Standards Can Be Basis of Physical Requirements for Employment
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed that an employer could dismiss an employee who drove a truck for them once the employee began to take medication needed to control seizures. Medical standards of the Department of Transportation covered such conditions, giving the employer a clear safety standard to follow.
(Updated March 2002)
Back Pay Damage Calculation Include Chance of Promotion
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the damage award to employees who won a reverse discrimination suit. Since only some of the plaintiffs in the suit would have been promoted in the absence of discrimination, the judge properly calculated damages based on the likelihood that each plaintiff would have been promoted at various times.
(Updated February 2002)
Lower Pay for Woman Professor Violates Equal Pay Act
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld a verdict in favor of a woman professor who contended she was paid less than men professors who had similar backgrounds and duties. While the professors who were compared were not identical, they were similar enough to indicate a pattern of pay disparity based on sex.
(Updated January 1, 2002)
Negative Work Evaluations Not Grounds for Constructive Discharge Claim Without More
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed that a woman who quit, claiming constructive discharge, had no case against her employer. She failed to show that she suffered a direct job consequence as a result of having had an affair with an office manager. The fact that her work evaluations declined was not sufficiently oppressive to constitute constructive discharge.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Retaliatory Discharge for Complaint of Sexual Harassment for Jury to Determine
Briefed Case
A woman employee ended an affair with her supervisor and was later fired when she complained to their manager about continuing harassment by her former boyfriend. Appeals court held that a jury verdict for a woman who contended the dismissal was retaliation was properly decided and would stand.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Vulgar Sexual Horseplay, Absent Desire or Hostility, Is Not Sexual Harassment
Briefed Case
Appeals court reversed a jury finding for a male employee who sued for sexual harassment after having been grabbed in the genitals by a supervisor. Evidence indicated that this practice, while vulgar, was common at the workplace, and indicated neither sexual desire or hostility, so there was no violation of Title VII on the part of the employer for failing to stop the practice.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
Gender Discrimination Includes Discrimination Based on Transsexualism in New Jersey
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a woman, who had changed her sexual identity and had been dismissed from employment during the process, had a cause of action against her employer for gender discrimination based on transsexualism under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination.
(Updated October 1, 2001)
Inability to Drive Is Not a Disability
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed dismissal of a disability discrimination suit brought by an employee whose job required some driving. Due to medical treatment, she was not to drive for six months. The court held that the inability to drive was not a qualified disability since she her medical condition did not affect her ability to do her work.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Severe Allergy May Be Disability Requiring Reasonable Accommodation
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a driver who suffered from a severe allergy that required a medication that would make him sleepy could well be disabled. That might require the employer to consider a transfer for the employee to a location where the allergy would not be a problem as a reasonable accommodation.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Refusal to Provide Second Transfer to Paranoid Employee Not a Failure to Accommodate
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit for failure to provide reasonable accommodation for a worker suffering from a mental disability, paranoia. The company had transferred him from one plant to another plant, to help him "escape" people who were persecuting him; the company's refusal to later send him back to the first plant at his request was not unreasonable.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Front Pay Damages Are Not Subject to Damage Caps
Briefed Case
Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision by ruling that front pay damages in employment discrimination cases-the award for compensation lost between judgment and reinstatement in employment or in lieu of reinstatement-are not capped, but are subject to the discretion of the court under the circumstances.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Company Harassment Policy And Action Defeats Suit for Sexual Harassment
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed a ruling in favor of an employer sued for sexual harassment. The harassment did occur, but the employee did not take advantage of a clear company policy about reporting such matters.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Dirty Talk Does Not Constitute Same-Sex Harassment
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a male employee who sued Wal-Mart for sexual harassment because of his supervisor's vulgar talk did not demonstrate that the talk was directed at him or was based on gender. The talk did not rise to the level of sexual harassment that created a hostile work environment.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Administrative Procedure Requirements Must Be Followed or Case Is Barred
Briefed Case
Florida appeals court held that a former employee who filed a race discrimination complaint against her former employer lost her right to sue because she failed to request an administrative hearing after the Commission on Human Relations had issued a "no cause" finding on her complaint.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
At-Will Employment Is a Contract for Purposes of § 1981 Civil Rights
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an at-will employment relationship is a contract for purposes of a claim by an employee that she was subject to racial discrimination. § 1981 prohibits racial discrimination in contracts; there is an employment contract for purposes of applying that statute.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Exclusion of Contraceptive in Prescription Plan for Employees Is Sex Discrimination
Briefed Case
Court held that for an employer to not include prescription contraceptives in a prescription plan offered to employees as a benefit of employment is a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act because it discriminates against women in a manner related to pregnancy.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Discriminatory Events Must Occur Within Statute of Limitations Time Prior to Filing Complaint
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit for race and sex discrimination brought by a former employee. The last discriminatory event claimed in the complaint occurred two years before the complaint was filed, which was outside the one-year statute of limitations in Minnesota.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Involuntary Obscene Talk Is Disability That Employer Could Not Accommodate
Briefed Case
An employee suffering from Tourette Syndrome, which caused involuntary outbursts of obscene words, was disabled. The employer did not violate the law by dismissing the employee since the disability prevented the employee from behaving with respect toward customers and other employees.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Disability Accommodation Need Not Include Union Position for Disabled Union Worker
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed that reasonable accommodation for a union worker who becomes disabled does not have to include maintenance of a union position if the new position is in a non-union part of the operation. The employer accommodated the disabled worker by offering a reasonable job; it need not have all terms and benefits of the previous job.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Hostile Work Environment Suit May Be Brought Under ADA
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed a jury verdict for a disabled worker who had been accommodated with a job he could perform but was subject to harassment by other workers and some supervisors because of his disability.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Single Sexist Comment Insufficient for Sexual Harassment or Retaliation Claim
Briefed Case
The Supreme Court held that a woman who heard a sexist comment while at a committee meeting did not have sufficient grounds to sue for sexual harassment. Further, the fact that the employer transferred her was not shown to be retaliation for her EEOC complaint since the transfer had been discussed previously.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Retaliation Claims May Be Added to Discrimination Suit After EEOC Right to Sue Letter Issued
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that when an employee files a discrimination claim under Title VII with the EEOC, and is eventually issued a right to sue letter, that retaliation that arises on the job after the EEOC filing may be added to the claims brought in court, without a new EEOC filing, when the retaliation is related to the original discrimination claim.
(Updated May 1, 2001)
Prima Facie Requirements for Equal Pay Act Violation Not Established
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought for violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII for a company failing to promote a woman to a managerial position. Since the work she performed was not equal to that of a man in the managerial position, and because the position she wanted never existed, she did not establish a prima facie case for violating either act.
(Updated May 1, 2001)
Trucking Company Need Not Reschedule Drivers to Accommodate Religious Beliefs
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a religious discrimination suit brought by a truck driver. His employer often used crews of mixed sex, which violated the employee's religious beliefs. The employer had no duty to rearrange the work schedule since it could impose a hardship on some other worker in some instances.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Active Alcoholism Not a Protected Disability for Employment Purposes in North Carolina
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an at-will employee dismissed for active alcoholism had no cause of action against his employer for disability discrimination since the statute in North Carolina expressly listed that condition as not being protected in the employment relationship.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Job Titles Matter Less Than Substance of Job Duties When Comparing Pay Differentials
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought for violation of equal pay for equal work. While the male and female employees had the same job titles, the female employee had no managerial duties, so the substance of their jobs was different, which is the focus of inquiry in such cases.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Affirmative Action Upheld as Basis for Differential Hiring Standards
Briefed Case
Court dismissed a suit for race discrimination against United Air Lines. The company may have differential hiring standards based on race, in this case second-language ability, to help correct an imbalance in the labor force that results in under-representation of qualified black flight attendants.
(Updated January 1, 2001)

©1997-2010 South-Western Legal Studies in Business, A Division of Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.