Failure to Hire Claim May Go to a Jury After Court Doubts Employer’s Assertions

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland recently ruled that a former employee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) may proceed with trial in his race and national origin discrimination case against the transit service agency based, in part, on several of the employer’s questionable assertions concerning their hiring process.  Thomas v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, No. PX-18-00175 (D. Md....
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Deceased Employee Lacks Standing to Sue for Discrimination

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
12/09/2019
The Fourth Circuit recently upheld a decision denying relief to a deceased KFC employee whose lawsuit was filed two days after his death.  House v. Mitra QSR KNE LLC, No. 18-1779 (4th Cir. 12/3/19) (unpublished). House worked as a General Manager for KFC in Baltimore when he told his supervisor he suffered from alcoholism and was seeking treatment in a rehab program.  When he returned from rehab, he discovered he had been fired.  He...
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Virginia School Teacher Fails to Prove Discrimination

An Arlington County  pre-kindergarten school teacher saw his claim of gender discrimination rejected by a federal court  when the County did not renew his contract due to poor performance.  In Ostrem v. Arlington County School Board, Judge Hilton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment to the school board, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case...
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Maryland Federal Court Finds Employee’s Reassignments Not Adverse Employment Action

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
12/04/2019
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland recently denied relief to an employee of the Wicomico County Department of Corrections (WDCD) who claimed that she faced unlawful discrimination via several department reassignments and disciplines.  Passwaters v. Wicomico County, No. 1:18-CV-02923 (D. Md. 11/27/19). Passwaters worked as a Correctional Officer for WCDC.  She was promoted to Master Correctional Officer and offered a...
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Court Rejects Virginia Tech's Argument That EEOC Acted Too Quickly in Dismissing EEOC Charge

As most parties who have been before the EEOC know, it can often take many months, if not years, for the agency to complete its investigation of a charge of discrimination.  However, there are times where the EEOC moves very quickly to dismiss a charge.  That is exactly what happened earlier this year in a charge of discrimination filed against Virginia Tech.  However, when the employee of Tech's College of Veterinary Medicine filed a lawsuit...
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Employer's Vague Reason for Discharge Leads to Jury Trial

Frank Kollman
Frank Kollman
11/12/2019
A federal court in Wisconsin is allowing a discrimination case to go to trial because, among other things, the reasons given for performance problems were too "vague."  As such, a jury could find the "vague" stated reasons to be pretextual, namely, a false reason to cover up illegal discrimination.  EEOC v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 18-cv-602-jdp (W.D. Wis. 2019). The Court, after noting that an employer who lies...
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Sixth Circuit Holds Agreement to Shorten Title VII Statute of Limitations Period Void

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
10/23/2019
Can an employment agreement entered into at the start of the employment relationship mandate that an employee file any claim she may have under Title VII within six months?  Sure.  Is it enforceable?  Nope, said the Sixth Circuit recently in Logan v. MGM Grand Detroit Casino, No. 18-1381 (9/25/19). Logan worked for MGM Grand Detroit Casino (MGM) as a culinary utility worker.  At the start of her employment, she entered into an...
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Employer's Departure from Job Description Can Be Evidence of Pretext

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
10/16/2019
Job descriptions are important tools in a variety of ways.  What an employer puts (or doesn’t put) on a job description can make a big difference when defending an employment action down the line.  For one, a job description can help employers satisfy ADA obligations by properly identifying a job’s essential functions and distinguishing them from the job’s marginal functions.  This is because the ADA generally protects qualified...
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Maryland's New Workplace Laws, Including Significant Changes To Maryland's Anti-Discrimination Law

As of October 1, 2019, there are a series of new laws and/or amendments to existing laws that impact Maryland's workplaces and employers.  These include: Significant FEPA Amendments:  Maryland's anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), now includes independent contractors within the definition of employee entitled to FEPA's protections.  Further, while FEPA generally applies to Maryland employers who have at least...
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Gender Identity Bias and Employer Dress Codes

On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments whether gender identity is a protected classification under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, in addition to sex, race, color, religion, and national origin.  R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., No. 18-107.  Whatever the Court decides, its opinion could have a profound impact on dress codes in the workplace.  The case before the Court...
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