Prompt Response to Workplace Harassment Complaint Defeats Title VII Claim

What should an employer do when it learns of potential workplace harassment?  Hudson v. Lincare, Inc., No. 22-50149 (5th Cir., Jan. 18, 2023), offers a recent example of how an employer should respond when an employee (or other individual, for that matter) alleges unlawful workplace behavior:  take the report seriously and protect employees from the harassing behavior, conduct an appropriate investigation, and take action to stop the harassment. ...
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Yeah, Congress Knew Some Folks Felt That Way

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
11/08/2022
After nearly 38 years as an employment lawyer, there are some old saws of mine I pull out (rarely, thank goodness) when talking to clients.  For example, after discussing the underlying issues in a pesky employment matter, a member of management might say “why can’t we just fire this person…?”  My go-to response is “well, yes, Congress knew some people felt that way and that’s why they passed a law against it.” As most folks...
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Documented Reorganization Aids Virginia Company’s Win In Pay Discrimination Case

Documentation of and communicating about employment-related decisions, including those pertaining to employee job duties, compensation, and changes in the workplace are important for several reasons.  Among those reasons are keeping employees informed of developments in the workplace and being positioned to explain to a court or administrative agency why things happened the way they did.  In the case of job duties, documentation is only part of...
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An EEOC Reminder: Discrimination by Third Parties is also Illegal

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/28/2022
  Let’s start today’s blog with a  brief visit to Employment Discrimination Law 101.  An employer cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, etc., etc., etc.  Discrimination includes harassment – name calling, epithets, and such stuff – that creates a hostile work environment.   And (yes, I know you know this) an employer is responsible for the actions of all of its employees, not just its supervisors or managers (e.g.,...
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Fourth Circuit Allows Claim of Color Discrimination to Advance

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
07/22/2022
While claims of employment discrimination are somewhat commonplace, it is far less common to see cases of discrimination based on color. In Felder v MGM National Harbor, No. 20-2373, the United States Court of Appeals for the Court Circuit reversed a trial court and allowed a claim of color discrimination to proceed beyond the Motion to Dismiss stage.  The case arose when the plaintiff, Britney Felder, filed suit alleging that she was...
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Lack of Comparator Dooms Discrimination Claim

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
06/24/2022
The Seventh Circuit recently reaffirmed the need to identify a relevant comparator in discrimination claims.  In Abebe v. Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Ms. Abebe worked as a dental assistant starting in 2014.  Her behavior during her employment was marked with multiple concerns about her attitude and interactions with others.  In 2016, she received a poor review for "respect" due to her negative attitude and poor interactions...
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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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