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.
Continue Reading EEOC Publication Summarizes Requirements for Discrimination Waivers

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 motivating factor even if other factors also motivated the adverse action.  White v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 2008 FED App. 0242P, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS  14188 (6th Cir. 2008).
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Announces Summary Judgment Standard For Title VII Mixed-Motive Cases

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. The supervisor allegedly viewed sexually-explicit videotapes for one to two hours every day on his office television, which was visible to his secretary through a glass partition. He also left pornographic videos scattered across his office floor, viewed pornographic websites on his secretary’s work computer, and required her, as a part of her secretarial duties, to open his mail, which included pornographic videotapes that the supervisor had delivered to his office.
Continue Reading Secretary May Pursue Sexual Harassment Suit for Hostile Work Environment Based on Boss’s Video Habit