“No, Thank You,” is Not Protected Activity

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/13/2019
Ok, students in my employment discrimination law class, here’s a pop quiz.  “Would you like to go grab dinner with me?” said the boss to his subordinate employee.  “No, thanks,” responds the employee, “I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure.”   A few weeks later, the employee is reassigned or terminated.  Was the employee’s rejection of a dinner offer stated opposition to sexual harassment that qualifies as protected...
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Employee Believed To Have Tampered With Drug Test Cannot Prove Disability Discrimination

A federal district judge in Oregon ruled that a Boeing employee who was terminated from his employment for tampering with his drug test could not advance his claims for disability discrimination and retaliation past summary judgment.  The case, Kelly v. The Boeing Company (D. Or. Aug. 15, 2019), reaffirms the general principle that an employer is not liable for discrimination where it holds a good faith belief of a lawful basis for its termination,...
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D.C. Court of Appeals Finds That Perceived-Disability Discrimination Claim May Succeed

Anti-discrimination laws often protect both individuals with actual disabilities and those whose employer perceives (regards) as disabled.  Whether an employer perceives an employee as disabled, however, can be a complicated matter, as a case decided last week by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals illustrates.  Abdul-Azim v. Howard University Hospital, No. 17-CV-453 (D.C. Ct. App. 8/1/19). Abdul-Azim worked as a cardiology...
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Separation Code That Raises Red Flags Can Constitute Post-Settlement Retaliation

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
07/29/2019
When serious problems in the workplace arise, a settlement and release that allows the employer and employee to go their separate ways often presents as an attractive resolution.  The employee can separate neutrally to look for a more suited work environment, while the employer can move on without fear of litigation.  Unless of course the agreement fails to properly address prospective employer inquiries, in which case an employer may well find...
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Third Circuit Rules Offensive Facebook Posts Did Not Create Hostile Work Environment

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
07/26/2019
Social media is a huge part of our lives these days, and many businesses use various social media platforms to their benefit.  However, a recent case out of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates just how social media can become a medium for employees to harass one another and implicate liability for an employer.  Chinery v. American Airlines, No. 18-3118 (3d Cir. 7/25/19). Chinery worked as a flight attendant for American...
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Virginia Court Dismisses Late-Filed Discrimination Suit

The Americans With Disabilities Act, like most other federal anti-discrimination statutes, requires that an employee file suit within 90 days of their receipt of a Right to Sue Notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission.  A Virginia man recently found out that federal courts take this requirement seriously when the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed his disability discrimination suit because it...
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Maryland’s Equal Pay Law: Are You In Compliance?

Watching the U.S. Women’s National Team play in and win the World Cup this past weekend took me right back to my own days of competitive girls’ soccer.  But nostalgia wasn’t the only thing that came to mind as the win brought additional attention to the Team’s recent lawsuit for equal pay.  That lawsuit, filed in March, generally alleges that the players on the Women’s National Team (“WNT”) are paid less than the players on...
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U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Joins Other Circuits Rejecting Vague Explanations From Employers

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
05/15/2019
In Figueroa v. Pompeo, No. 18-5064 (D.C. Cir. 5/10/2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that an employer cannot meet its burden to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action with vague assertions about the reasons for an adverse employment action. Richard Figueroa was employed by the U.S. Department of State (the “Department”) as a foreign service officer. He applied for...
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Surgeon Is Not Hospital Employee For Title VII Purposes, Seventh Circuit Holds

To build on my colleague Vince Jackson’s recent post about the Department of Labor’s distinction between independent contractors and employees, teasing out whether an individual is (or was) a company’s employee who is generally covered by equal employment opportunity laws, or an independent contractor who is not covered, is an often difficult but critically important issue in handling employment litigation. This week, a federal court of...
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Some Fun Facts About The EEOC's 2018 Charge Data

The EEOC released its 2018 charge statistics earlier this week.  Here are three key pieces of information to consider: Charge filings have decreased.  In 2018, the EEOC processed 76,418 charges, which represents more than a 9% decrease from 2017, a nearly 17% decrease from 2016, and a 23.5% decreased from the all-time high year of charge filings in 2010 (99,922 charges).   Because charge filings tend to flow with the relative strength of the...
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