Archives: Discrimination

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Iowa Supreme Court Reverses $1.5 Million Verdict Against Former Governor in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit

After nearly a decade of litigation, in Godrey v. State of Iowa et al, Case No. 19-1954 (June 30, 2021), the Iowa Supreme Court reversed a jury verdict granting $1.5 million in damages and $3.1 million in attorneys’ fees to the former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, based on his allegation that the Governor of the … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Upholds High Bar for Plaintiffs Filing Retaliation Claims

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed employers’ rights under Title VII to make merit-based hiring decisions, even when it means rejecting a candidate who recently raised a meritorious claim of discrimination. In Robertson v. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 949 F.3d 371, 374 (7th Cir. 2020), the plaintiff reported discriminatory conduct in the … Continue Reading

Connecticut High Court to Decide If Women-Only Workout Area Violates State Anti-Discrimination Law

  On May 7, 2021, the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case of Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities (CHRO) v. Edge Fitness, LLC, et al., SC 20538 (Conn.).  The case presents an issue of first impression and arises out of the State of Connecticut’s claim that a separate women-only workout … Continue Reading

2,000 COVID-19-Related Employment Lawsuits Filed in the U.S.: An Analysis of the Data and Trends

On April 6, 2021, the total number of COVID-19-related employment complaints filed in United States courts passed the 2,000 mark.  Although it took eight months to reach the first 1,000 complaints (March–November 2020), it took less than five months to go from 1,000 to 2,000. Indeed, December 2020 through March 2021 included the four busiest … Continue Reading

How Little May an Employee Allege for Retaliation Protection?

The question of when a worker has raised concerns about discrimination sufficient to gain retaliation protection has not been answered consistently and clearly by courts. A case in Texas may provide clarification. The Texas Supreme Court, in Apache Corp. v. Davis, has been asked to evaluate a lower court ruling on the subject.  The lower court … Continue Reading

Ohio’s Employment Law Uniformity Act: New Prerequisites and Defenses for Discrimination Claims

Ohio employment discrimination claims filed on or after April 15, 2021, will be subject to certain prerequisites under the newly enacted Employment Law Uniformity Act (ELUA).  Jackson Lewis’ in-depth webinar regarding the ELUA is available here. The ELUA updates the state’s antidiscrimination statute (Ohio Revised Code § 4112), which has been in effect since 2001. … Continue Reading

Seasonal Employee May Pursue Disability-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim, Court Rules

Reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment, the Iowa Court of Appeals held an employee presented sufficient evidence for her disability-based hostile work environment claim to proceed to trial, despite the relatively short period of her employment. Munoz v. Adventure Lands of America, Inc., 2021 BL 37057 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2021). In … Continue Reading

New Connecticut CROWN Act Bans Natural Hair Discrimination in the Workplace

Connecticut has joined the growing list of states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of traits historically associated with race, including hair. On March 10, 2021, Connecticut adopted legislation to ban natural hair discrimination in the workplace. In 2019, California was the first state to implement a law called the CROWN Act, an acronym for … Continue Reading

Regular Attendance is Essential Even if Employer was Lenient in the Past, Fifth Circuit Holds

An employer’s past leniency in applying and enforcing its attendance policy did not contradict the employer’s later position that regular worksite attendance was required for employment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held. Weber v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 20-10295 (5th Cir. Feb. 24, 2021). This provides guidance for employers unsure whether … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition Seeking to Scrap McDonnell Douglas Burden-Shifting Analysis

Arguing the decades-old analysis is no longer helpful to anyone, Reginald Sprowl petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to scrap application of the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis in Title VII race discrimination and retaliation claims. On January 19, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected Sprowl’s petition and denied certiorari. Sprowl v. Mercedes-Benz U.S. Int’l, Inc., 815 Fed. … Continue Reading

2021 Is Here: Time for Your Annual Employment Law Compliance Checkup

The year 2020 is finally behind us!  We might not be able to breathe a sigh of relief just yet but the beginning of a new year is still a good time to pause and review your labor and employment law compliance for the year.  COVID-19 is still with us and demanding our attention but … Continue Reading

Is One Enough? Employee Asks U.S. Supreme Court if Single Utterance of Racial Slur Creates Hostile Work Environment

Is a single utterance of an offensive racial slur – specifically the “N-word” – enough to create a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? A Black operating room aide in Dallas, Texas, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the question. The petition references a circuit-split on … Continue Reading

Emotional Support Animals on the Witness Stand?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal on the issue of whether a witness may have an emotional support animal present while testifying at trial. In Commonwealth v. Purnell, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld a trial court’s ruling that an autistic minor witness could have a comfort dog with her on … Continue Reading

Employment Law Developments to Monitor in 2021: COVID-19-Related Employment Litigation and Trends

As 2021 begins, Jackson Lewis continues to work with employers to help them understand, prepare for, and handle the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace.  In addition to advising and counseling clients, Jackson Lewis attorneys are handling COVID-19-related litigation matters nationwide, and are tracking COVID-19 employment litigation trends with Jackson Lewis’ interactive COVID-19 Employment LitWatch. … Continue Reading

A $6M Misunderstanding? Pennsylvania Jury Finds Age and National Origin Discrimination

Following a five-day trial, and nine hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Pennsylvania has awarded more than $6 million to a former Teva Pharmaceuticals employee. Middlebrooks v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 2:17-cv-00412 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 19, 2018). The employee claimed that the company discriminated against him on the basis of his age in … Continue Reading

No Liability for School in $4-Million Gender Discrimination Suit, Jury Finds

A federal jury concluded that the former Superintendent of the East Greenbush Central School District failed meet her burden of proving she was terminated based on her gender and pregnancy status. Accordingly, the District was not liable for the more than $4 million in damages sought. Angela Nagle became Superintendent of the District in 2008. … Continue Reading

Scientist Awarded $3M by Pennsylvania Jury in Gender Discrimination Suit

A federal jury recently awarded a female scientist $3 million for her gender discrimination claims against PPG Industries, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Half of the award was for emotional distress damages. In the case, Carol Knox worked for PPG for 23 years and was a Project Manager in the research and development group, where … Continue Reading

Florida Jury Awards Former University Registrar $310,500 In Retaliation Suit

A jury recently returned a $310,500 verdict in favor of a former University of South Florida employee on her retaliation claim against the University. DeBose v. USF Board of Trustees, et al, No. 8:15-cv-02787 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 26, 2018).   The former employee, Angela DeBose, claimed she was retaliated against because she had filed internal race … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Jury Returns Unprecedented $28 Million Verdict for Retaliation Claim

A Suffolk County jury recently awarded a Haitian–American nurse an unprecedented $28.2 million in total damages on her claim of retaliation against Brigham & Women’s Hospital, her former employer. At the same time, the jury rejected the nurse’s claim of race discrimination. This verdict serves to emphasize what most employment litigators know from experience: juries … Continue Reading

Jury Award of Emotional Distress Damages Must Be Reduced by Millions, Judge Rules

A federal judge in New York has ruled that a plaintiff could recover only a small portion of the $2.5 million a jury awarded him, granting the defendant’s request for the reduction. Saber v. New York State Department of Financial Services, No. 1:15-cv-05944 (S.D. N.Y. July 20, 2018).  Plaintiff Nasser Saber, who is Muslim, had … Continue Reading

Illinois Jury Rejects Transgender Worker’s Discrimination Claim

  A federal jury in Illinois has rejected a transgender employee’s claim that she was discriminated against and illegally fired after she told her employer that she was transitioning. In 2016, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Rent-A-Center East, Inc., alleging the company discharged Megan Kerr illegally in 2014, after over a year’s worth of … Continue Reading

Jury Enters Sexual Harassment Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff; Awards No Damages

A jury in the Northern District of Georgia recently entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a sexual harassment case, yet awarded her no damages. In Furcron v. Mail Centers Plus, LLC, a former mailroom clerk, Myra Furcron, sued her former employer, Mail Centers Plus, LLC, for sexual harassment as a result of … Continue Reading

Reward for Highest Score: No Promotion, But $1.2 Million Jury Verdict

A long-time New Jersey police department employee applies for a promotion to captain. On the promotional exam, he scores higher than any other applicant. He isn’t promoted. His consolation prize, however, is a jury verdict of more than $1.2 million in state court last month. In Downing v. Borough of Roselle and Chief Gerald Orlando, Bradley … Continue Reading
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