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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New York Bans Race Discrimination Based on Hairstyle

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
07/18/2019
New York has become the second state to include hairstyles within the definition of race for purposes of the state’s anti-discrimination law.  Last week, California became the first state to ban such discrimination. The New York State law amends the definition of “race” to mean “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”  This includes, but is not limited to,...
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Employee Can’t Prove Supervisor’s “Black Ass” Remark Motivated His Termination

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
07/17/2019
In a recent unpublished decision, the Eleventh Circuit held that an African-American former employee could not get past summary judgment on his Title VII and Section 1981 race discrimination claims.  Williams v. Housing Opportunities for Persons with Exceptionalities, No. 2:17-cv-00468-ACA (11th Cir. 7/15/19). Williams worked as a direct care provider for Housing Opportunities for Persons with Exceptionalities (“HOPE”).  He worked...
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New California Law Adds Protected Status Based On Hairstyle

This past week marked not only the anniversary of our Independence Day, but also the 55th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Amidst this well-deserved fanfare, California became the first state to make hairstyle a protected status under its state anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Presently, employers who take actions based on an individual’s headwear, when worn for religious reasons...
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Hospital Dodges Discrimination Claim Despite “Unfair” Termination

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
06/06/2019
Peggy Gordon worked for Holy Cross Hospital Germantown, Inc. from April 2012 until February 2017.  Gordon had a spotless employment record until an incident on February 22, 2017.  That evening, when Gordon went to draw blood from a patient, the patient refused to let her do so and asked for another nurse.  Gordon stopped the procedure, apologized to the patient, and left the room.  She also reported to the charge nurse that the patient was upset...
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