White Employee Gets Trial on Claim She Was Fired to Send Message Against Racism

A Maryland federal judge has ruled that an employer must stand trial on claims by a former white employee who alleged she was terminated to set an example of the company’s commitment to fight racism.  In Wethje v. CACI-ISS,  2021 U.S. Dist. Lexis 34543 (D. Md. 2/24/21), Judge Paula Xinis denied the company’s motion for summary judgement on the employee's claims of race discrimination under Title VII and Section 1981. The case arose when CACI...
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Sixth Circuit Confirms But-For Causation Standard Remains In ADEA Claims

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declined to extend the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020) to an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) claim.  In Pelcha v. MW Bancorp, Inc., 984 F.3d 1199 (6th Cir. Jan. 12, 2021), the Sixth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio’s dismissal of an ADEA lawsuit, stating the plaintiff failed to show...
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Maryland Federal Court Rules Transgender TGI Friday’s Cook Can Proceed To Trial On Bias Claims

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
02/19/2021
Though Maryland workers have been protected from gender identity discrimination under State law since 2014, it wasn’t until last year that the Supreme Court made clear employees are protected under federal law too.  You can read about the landmark Title VII decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, No 17-1618 (U.S. June 15, 2020), here. A recent district court decision offers useful guidance about the circumstances courts in this jurisdiction may...
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Court Rejects Laches Claim Due to EEOC’s Delay

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
11/25/2020
One of my first cases as a baby lawyer was a sex harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee who waited over six years for a decision from the EEOC and Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (which did eventually dismiss the charge).  She got her notice of right to sue and, with the help of very able counsel, filed her lawsuit.  No one (still alive) recalled her complaining or supported her claim, but she testified that she had raised her...
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Maryland District Court Permits Claim Alleging Supervisor Harassment

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
11/10/2020
Last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland reminded us all about the importance of preventing workplace harassment and especially harassment by supervisors and managers.  In Rosinbum v. Azar, No. TDC-19-3119 (Nov. 6, 2020), the Court found that a former FDA research fellow sufficiently alleged claims of discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under Title VII. The bulk of the Court’s opinion recites...
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Lack Of Discriminatory Motive Dooms Employee’s Sex Discrimination Suit

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
11/04/2020
In Williams v. Housing Authority of Savannah, the 11th Circuit held that an employee failed to show that a Georgia Housing Agency acted discriminatorily when the employee failed to rebut the employer’s basis for her termination –  she violated HAS rules by failing to maintain possession of her master keys and did not report that she never got them back. Monica Williams was an Assistant Asset Manager for the Housing Authority of Savannah...
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Montgomery County, Maryland Lowers Bar To Prove Workplace Harassment

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
10/27/2020
On October 6, 2020, the County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland enacted Bill 14-20, which effectively lowers the standard of proof for workplace harassment cases by rejecting the “severe or pervasive” standard applicable to state and federal claims. The new county legislation defines “harassment” as “verbal, written, or physical conduct, whether or not the conduct would be considered sufficiently severe or pervasive under...
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Stress Caused By A Difficult Supervisor Is Not A Disability

Employers often encounter claims that an employee is suffering work-related stress and needs an accommodation for a disability.  The employee often wants reassignment to a different supervisor, usually because of the supervisor’s management style, although the employee may characterize the problem as harassment, bullying, or in other pejorative terms.  Assuming it turns out that the employee is complaining about anxiety or stress caused by the...
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EEOC Opinion Letter Presents New Interpretation Of Its Authority To Sue Employers For Systemic Discrimination

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
09/30/2020
On September 3rd, the EEOC issued an opinion letter that reversed course on its authority under Section 707 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to initiate discrimination actions against employers.  The EEOC concluded it does not have the power to sue employers for discriminatory workplace practices without first complying with other procedural steps.  The opinion letter answered two questions: 1) does a pattern or practice claim...
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In Its Own Backyard: EEOC Must Confront Discrimination Lawsuit by Former Attorney

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/21/2020
Those of us who deal with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on a regular basis sometimes lose track of the fact that it, like the folks we represent as management attorneys, is an employer too.  And, it is subject to many of the same anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation legal requirements as the employers it investigates.  A recent decision from the D.C. Circuit shows that even the EEOC is sometimes required to explain its actions...
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