Maryland Poised To Increase Damages Caps For Discrimination Claims

The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) is the state analog to federal anti-discrimination laws.   The law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, and disability.  If an employer is found to have engaged in an unlawful employment practice under FEPA the remedies can include compensatory damages, back pay, injunctive...
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Fourth Circuit ADA Plaintiff Loses on Summary Judgment Due To Admissions Made In His Own Complaint

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
01/21/2022
One of the more challenging areas of employment law that businesses must grapple with is leave accommodations.  Employers and employees often disagree about how much leave is too much leave and, when circumstances result in an employee’s termination, it’s not uncommon for litigation to ensue. Such were the facts of an employment dispute decided by the Fourth Circuit this week. Jessup v. Barnes Group, Inc., No. 20-1801 (1/19/22). Plaintiff...
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Waiting Too Long to Sue Sinks Case

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
12/22/2021
I am not a procrastinator by nature, although some of my closest friends (and a few family members) are.  For me, waiting until the last minute to get something done is just irritating and anxiety provoking.  But enough oversharing.   My point is that, waiting until the last minute to accomplish a task can have a negative outcome. That is what happened to Brian Lax, a former FEMA employee who sued for disability discrimination.  Lax v. Mayorkas...
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Fourth Circuit Offers Guidance on Employer's Obligation to Make Reasonable Accommodations

 A recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is a good reminder that the ADA does not require that an employee be granted the exact accommodation they are seeking. Rather, an employer fulfills its obligation when it offers to provide a reasonable alternative accommodation.  Murphy v. County of New Hanover, No. 21-1471 (September 17, 2021). Dante Murphy was employed by the county of New Hanover, North...
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Texas Challenges EEOC's New Bostock Guidance

In July 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released FAQ guidance and a landing page as resources to employers in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020).  Bostock was the 2020 Supreme Court decision that recognized that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex includes a categorical bar on...
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Long Gap Not Fatal To Retaliation Claim

A retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) requires that there be protected activity, a materially adverse employment action, and a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.  An employee engages in protected activity when, for example, he opposes an unlawful employment practice or participates in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing regarding conduct that is proscribed by...
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Employee Reassignment Due To Poor Performance Not Adverse Action

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
09/08/2021
From time to time I get questions from employers about the legal risks associated with transfer or reassignment of a poor performing employee.  Maybe a contract prevents immediate termination, or the current office dynamic simply isn’t good.  The relationship with the employee is on a rapid decline and the employer wants to know- will the transfer increase the risk of liability for an employment discrimination claim? As lawyers often say to our...
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“Paramour Preference” Is Not a Title VII Violation, says Ninth Circuit

When I lectured on sex discrimination and harassment to my law school students, I’d pose the following question:  “does the person who didn’t (consensually) date the boss and who then didn’t get promoted have a claim for discrimination or harassment?  No?  But what if I just never got the chance to date them?  I mean, I would have been willing to do so if I’d known that might help me advance or keep my job.”  While some students...
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Employer Defeats Title VII Claims With Consistent, Documented Explanation

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
07/20/2021
A recent decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Dawson v. Washington Gas Light Company, provides a reminder of what is (or should be) an obvious point:  when disciplining or terminating employees, employers should not change or shift their explanations over time.  Dawson v. Washington Gas Light Company, No. 19-2127 (4th Cir. July 13, 2021).  Dawson -- a case involving alleged retaliation, race, and color discrimination and...
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Fourth Circuit Revives Same-Sex Harassment Claim

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last week joined several other federal appellate courts when it rejected a narrow reading of Supreme Court precedent regarding same-sex harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Roberts v. Glenn Industrial Group, Inc., No. 19-1215 (4th Cir. May 21, 2021).  The Fourth Circuit covers Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The case involves Glenn...
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