Employer Law Report

Tag Archives: Title VII

Supreme Court Holds Third Party Retaliation Is an Actionable Claim – Reversing Sixth Circuit

Updating our previous posts on Thompson v. North American Stainless, the Supreme Court yesterday reversed the Sixth Circuit’s en banc decision holding that an employee who claims he was fired in retaliation for his fiancé’s complaint of sex harassment had an actionable retaliation claim under Title VII. The Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit’s decision in a 8-0 opinion with Justice Scalia writing the unanimous decision.

The facts are as follows: A woman filed a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC. Three weeks later, the employer terminated the woman’s fiancé, who also was employed by the company. The fiancé … Continue Reading

EEOC Publication Summarizes Requirements for Discrimination Waivers

On July 15, 2009, the EEOC published “Understanding Waivers of Discrimination Claims in Employee Severance Agreements,” a document directed to employees facing layoffs. The publication is not apparently intended to change existing regulations, but rather to summarize the legal requirements for severance agreements under the ADA, Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and, separately, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

As noted by the EEOC’s summary, in order to minimize the risk of potential litigation, many employers provide laid-off employees with optional severance agreements, by which employees may obtain certain compensation or benefits in exchange for releasing the employer from … Continue Reading

Transsexuality-Based Decisions May Cause Problems Under Federal Sex Discrimination Laws

The decision in a recent federal court case against the United States Library of Congress shows clearly the risk an employer takes when making employment decisions based on a person’s gender identity. In Schroer v. Billington, D.D.C., Case No. 05-1090, September 19, 2008, the Library of Congress was found guilty of sex discrimination under Title VII when it withdrew a job offer just after the Library became aware that the person being hired – Diane Schroer – was undergoing medical treatments to change her sex from male to female. Ms. Schroer is a decorated military veteran and had been hired for … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Announces Summary Judgment Standard For Title VII Mixed-Motive Cases

In a case of first-impression, the Sixth Circuit held that the burden-shifting framework (commonly referred to as the McDonnell Douglas/Burdine test) used in cases brought under Title VII does not apply to Title VII mixed-motive cases.  The Court held that in order to survive a defendant’s summary judgment motion, a Title VII plaintiff asserting a mixed-motive claim must only produce evidence that: (1) the defendant took an adverse employment action against the plaintiff; and (2) race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor.  A plaintiff can succeed by showing that a protected characteristic was a … Continue Reading

Secretary May Pursue Sexual Harassment Suit for Hostile Work Environment Based on Boss’s Video Habit

The importance of leaving your personal life at home–particularly if it involves a penchant for pornography–is amply highlighted by the Second Circuit’s decision in Patane v. Clark, No. 06-3446 (2nd Cir. Nov. 28, 2007).  In Patane, the court upheld a female college secretary’s right to pursue a hostile work environment claim under Title VII and state discrimination laws based on her male supervisor’s pornographic video and website viewing habits.  Apparently oblivious to the development of sexual harassment law over the last 40 years or so, the supervisor–who happened to be the chair of the college’s Classics Department–allegedly viewed … Continue Reading