OSHA's New Reporting Rules Take Effect

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
12/01/2016
The "third time's a charm" applies to even the federal government.  The Department of Labor has not been able to get many ticks in the W column lately with both its Persuader Rule and Overtime Rule getting enjoined from implementation.  Although attempts were made to enjoin these new reporting rules from becoming effective, yesterday, a trial judge denied issuing an injunction against OSHA's new reporting rules. So, as of today, employers are...
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BNSF Railway Vindicated In Employee Termination Decision

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
11/11/2016
In Koziara v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 16-1577 (7th Cir. Oct. 31, 2016), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a nearly half-a-million dollar jury award in favor a fired employee who alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for reporting a workplace injury.  The decision reinforces the principal that an employee’s protected activity will not insulate him from employment decisions based on legitimate reasons. Michael Koziara worked for...
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Second Circuit Extends Reach of Cat’s Paw in Title VII Retaliation Suit

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
09/16/2016
A number of federal courts have held that, under the “cat’s paw” doctrine (named after an Aesop’s fable), an adverse employment decision based on information from a supervisor with discriminatory or retaliatory animus may provide the basis for employer liability under Title VII.  However, it has not been clear that an adverse action based on information from a non-supervisory employee could similarly trigger employer liability.  The United...
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Colorado Truck Driver Fails to Climb ADA Proof Hurdle

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
07/14/2016
As courts have observed, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a “most favored nation” status to the millions of us who have physical or mental impairments.  Though the law provides a benefit (reasonable accommodation) to disabled individuals that is not required to be given to the general public, this benefit is not without limitations.  For example, as the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed, an individual with a disability must...
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EEO Department Head’s Conduct Went Beyond His Job Duties, Was Protected Activity

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
07/07/2016
In Brooking v. New York Dep’t of Taxation & Fin., No. 1:15 cv-0510 (N.D.N.Y. July 5, 2016), a federal district court in New York ruled that an employee whose job is to report and/or investigate the discrimination complaints of other employees does not engage in protected activity merely by doing those things required of his job.  That same employee does engage in protected activity, however, when he actively supports the complaints of others...
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Title VII Retaliation Claims Hinging On Circumstantial Evidence Remain Governed By McDonnell Douglas

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
05/29/2015
Two years ago, in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the Supreme Court heightened the causation standard for employees claiming retaliation based on direct evidence (such as explicitly discriminatory statements made by supervisors) under Title VII.  Plaintiffs must prove "but for" causation. What about the situation in which an employee relies solely on circumstantial evidence? Does Nassar’s “but-for” standard apply to...
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New Fourth Circuit Standard: Single Incident Sufficient For Title VII Hostile Workplace Harassment Claim

Sometimes, once is enough.  In a just issued en banc decision that overturns established circuit precedent, the Fourth Circuit held that a single workplace incident was sufficiently severe to trigger Title VII's protection. In Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., 4th Cir. No 13-1473 (May 7, 2015), an African-American hotel worker was fired after she complained that a white employee had called her a “porch monkey” twice within 24 hours....
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Business Judgment Rule Supports Best Buy's Firing of Disabled Employee

Every once in a while, I read a case where my first reaction is:  "how does someone like this ever hold a job?"  That was my reaction when I read the Court's April 10, 2015 decision in Sharp v. Best Buy Co., Inc. out of the United States District Court for Western District of Kentucky. In Sharp, the plaintiff was an auto technician who suffered from narcolepsy and cataplexy. Best Buy accommodated his conditions by excusing him from shift work, and...
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College Employee’s ADA and Retaliation Claims Get Past Summary Judgment

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/29/2014
Lest any employer need reminding that workplace disability issues (and the ADA/FMLA interplay) are nearly always tricky, a recent decision by Judge Russell proves the point well. In Williams v. Balt. City Cmty. College, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133144 (D. Md. Sept. 23, 2014), the court denied the College’s motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s “regarded as” disabled and retaliation claims, while granting the motion on plaintiff’s...
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Maryland Court Rejects Retaliation Claim Based on Frivolous EEOC Charge

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
06/10/2014
The United States District Court for the District of Maryland held that employees do not engage in protected activity by refusing to comment about the work of a co-worker and/or that a conversation transpired between a supervisor and employees. Kearns v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., No. ELH-11-1736 (D. Md., May 23, 2014). Michael Kearns alleged that his former employer, Northrup Grumman Systems Corporation, violated Title VII and the ADEA by...
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