Supervisor’s Hugs & Kisses Were Assault & Battery, Were Not Harassment Under Title VII

A federal court in Virginia recently found that a former employee of the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) presented enough evidence that her supervisor’s hugs and kisses comprised an assault and battery against her, but not enough to establish sexual harassment or hostile work environment under Title VII.  Back v. Commonwealth of Virginia, et al., No. 7:17-cv-00477 (W.D. Va. 11/27/19). Back worked as a Veterans Services Representative...
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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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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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Documentation of Performance Issues Defeats Employee’s Claims of Retaliation

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
07/31/2019
Employers may find it concerning when their employees with performance issues also complain of workplace discrimination.  A recent decision out of the Eastern District of Virginia illustrates how progressive discipline, documentation of employee work performance problems, and investigation of employee workplace complaints can help protect employers in the long run.  Gooding-Williams v. Fairfax County School Board, No. 1:18-cv-01177 (E.D....
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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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Virginia Court Enforces Narrowly Drawn Restrictive Covenants

Restrictive covenants  in employment agreements are often hotly contested, and can be difficult for employers to enforce. The Circuit Court of Fairfax County recently addressed the complexities of these agreements in ruling that a non-solicitation and non–disclosure agreement was enforceable, while a non-competition provision was not. Omnisec International Investigations, Inc., et. al. v. Slavica Stone, et. al., CL 2018-6368 (March...
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Fourth Circuit Rejects Professor's Pay Discrimination Claim

On March 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgment to Virginia State University, rejecting a sociology professor’s claims that she was paid less than two male colleagues because she is a woman. The Court agreed with Senior District Court Judge Henry Hudson that the disparity in pay was the result of differences in job responsibilities, as well as the fact that the men had both been...
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Rumors About Sleeping With Her Boss Nets One Employee A Viable Sexual Harassment Claim

In today's #MeToo age, it is hard not to know that sexual harassment is wrong and illegal.  This recent case of unlawful sexual harassment comes with an admittedly unexpected lens.  Rumors that a female employee is "sleeping her way to the top" is the latest version of prohibited sexual harassment in workplace.  While endless movies, TV shows and real life certainly contain examples of others discussing by the proverbial water cooler how so-and-so...
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Virginia General Assembly Considering Bills to Allow Employees to Sue for Unpaid Wages

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
01/29/2019
Unlike many states, Virginia does not provide a statutory right for employees to sue their employer for unpaid wages.  At present, an employee is limited to filing a complaint with the state Department of Labor & Industry or filing suit for breach of contract. However, two bills introduced by Delegates from both sides of the aisle may soon change that. House Bills 1687 and 2524 would both amend Virginia Code Section 40.1-29 to allow employees...
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Virginia Employer Defeats Retaliation Claim With Timely Documentation of Performance Issues

A Fourth Circuit case decided this past week is yet another example of how documenting employee performance problems-- at the time they actually occur-- can save an employer from a retaliation claim, even when an employee is fired immediately after a complaint of unfair treatment.  McDougald v. Quad/Graphics Mktg., No. 18-1026 (4th Cir. 12/13/18). In this case, Plaintiff McDougald worked as a press tech in a printing plant acquired by Quad/Graphics...
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