Whole Foods Survives Challenge to Dress Code Related Discipline

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
07/01/2022
It was not that long ago when most workers who were working in person wore masks or other face coverings as a safety precaution.  Masks come in many variations – a single color, patterned, or even descriptive, with slogans, logos, and other messages and images.  Whole Foods’ dress code “prohibits employees from wearing clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos, or advertising that are not company-related.”  Prior to...
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Fourth Circuit Denies Alexandria Firefighter's Race Discrimination Claim

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently denied an Alexandria, Virginia firefighter's claim that he was denied a promotion to a paramedic position because he is Black.  Lyons v. City of Alexandria, No. 20-1656 (4th Cir. 6/1/22). The Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the City of Alexandria, finding that the Appellant had misunderstood the City's promotion policy and failed to present any evidence of racial...
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Professors Are Not Widgets

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
05/05/2022
In a recent decision, Palmer v. Indiana University, et al., No. 21-1634 (7th Cir. Apr. 14, 2022), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of Indiana University and its trustees in a suit brought by a lecturer in the school’s business marketing department.  Palmer, a lecturer and then senior lecturer, alleged that he was denied an early promotion because of his race and was paid less than a white colleague in...
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Vague Allegations Doom Physician’s Discrimination Claim

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
03/11/2022
A recent decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Nadendla v. Wakemed, No. 21-1300 (4th Cir. Jan. 21, 2022) provides a reminder of a plaintiff’s burden when asserting claims of race discrimination under a federal statute commonly referred to as Section 1981. Haritha Nadendla is a physician of Indian origin who had clinical privileges and was on the staff of Wakemed Cary Hospital in North Carolina until May 2017.  After being notified...
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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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Employer’s Swift and Harsh Actions Defeat Harassment Claim

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
01/09/2020
It is unfortunately no surprise that people do stupid things.  Some people do inexcusable things.  And sometimes those things amount to racial discrimination and harassment.  A recent decision from a federal court in Texas demonstrates the importance for employers to take prompt action to address discriminatory behavior in the workplace.  Such responses are the right thing to do and can also help employers avoid liability under...
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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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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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Employee’s Medical Leave Can Be An Adverse Employment Action If Caused By Discriminatory Comments

A recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois demonstrates how a supervisor’s repeated derogatory comments about an employee’s Middle Eastern background and religion that forced her to take medical leave became a triable discrimination claim.  Odisho v. U.S. Bancorp, Inc., No. 16 C 11121 (N.D. Ill. 7/24/19). Juliet Odisho worked as a Structured Finance Analyst for US Bank (“Bank”) where she reported...
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Court Finds Client Remark About “Rednecks” To Be Direct Evidence Of Discrimination

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
08/01/2019
I recently blogged about a case where a supervisor told an employee that she “[couldn’t] stand [his] black ass” in an altercation that culminated in the employee’s termination.  There, despite the closeness in time between the comment and the employment decision at issue, the court found insufficient evidence of unlawful discrimination, and the employer won the case. More recently, a case out of Maryland’s federal district court...
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