Richmond Court Dismisses Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

I've been practicing employment law for over 30 years, and one thing I have learned over those three decades is that you can generally predict how a judge will rule in your case by reading the first couple paragraphs of their decision.  In Bowman v. Rescare Inc., Braley and Thompson, Civil Action No. 3:16-CV-601-JAG (10/19/17) , a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, Judge...
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Red Cross Stuck With Phlebotomist's Retaliatory Discharge Claim

On July 14, 2017, a Norfolk federal judge denied a motion to dismiss a former Red Cross employee's claim that her employer fired her for reporting what she believed were health and safety violations committed by her supervisor.  Easterbrooks v. American Red Cross, No. 2:17cv98 (E.D.  Va. 2017). Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that plaintiff Julie Easterbrook's claims were sufficient to state a cause of action under Virginia Code Section 40.1-51.2.1,...
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Virginia Court Refuses to Dismiss Jeweler's Bowman Claim

Virginia courts recognize a narrow exception to the employment at will doctrine for employees who claim to have been discharged  in violation of public policy. Known as Bowman claims (after the seminal 1985 Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville decision),  employees can bring a claim for "wrongful discharge" if they can show that a statute expressly or implicitly protects them from being discharged for conduct covered by the statute. In the recent...
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Employer Lawfully Fired Employee for Making Harassment Claim

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/16/2017
Sex, lies, but no videotape.  A Virginia restaurant was faced with this juicy but difficult harassment investigation involving several current and former employees.  After sorting out the sordid claims, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that employers who honestly believe, after investigation, that employees have made false harassment complaints are permitted to use their business judgment to discipline or terminate the person who they...
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Appellate Court Rules Employee Can Sue City of Alexandria as Joint Employer Under FMLA

It is no secret that businesses today are increasingly outsourcing human resources functions in an effort to cut costs.  But absent careful planning, the outsourcing employer may still bear legal liability for workplace discrimination issues.  Here’s what the Fourth Circuit had to say about the subject in a case decided this week.  Quintana v. City of Alexandria, et al., No. 16-1630 (4th Cir. 6/6/17). The case arose from the City of...
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Virginia Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Bowman Claim Based on Protective Order Statutes

On February 23, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court sustained a demurrer to a complaint alleging a Bowman claim of wrongful termination.  Francis v. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences, Inc. No. 160267.  The Court rejected an employee's claims that the public policy embodied in Virginia Code §§ 19.2-152.7:1 through 19.2-152.10 (the Protective Order Statutes) provides the basis for a wrongful discharge claim. According to...
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Virginia Court Strikes Down Homebuilder's Non-Compete Agreement

On February 14, 2017, a federal judge denied a home builders’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stop a former employee covered by a non-compete agreement from working for a competing builder.  Applying Virginia law, Judge Liam O’Grady of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, ruled that the geographic scope of the non-compete was overbroad and, therefore, the agreement was invalid.  NVR,...
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Fired Virginia Teacher Fails to Establish USERRA Claim

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
01/05/2017
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently ruled that the Prince William County School Board did not violate the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") when it fired a teacher who had returned from a four-year deployment to Kuwait.  Butts v. Prince William County School Board, et. al., No. 15-1989 (4th Cir. Dec. 21, 2016).  The Fourth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgement to the School...
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Federal Judge Declares Ending Light Duty Assignment to be Adverse Action

In Cobbs v First Transit Co. et. al., Case No. 6:16-cv-00015 (W.D. Va. Dec. 16, 2016), a federal judge in Lynchburg, Virginia ruled that a bus company took an adverse employment action against an employee by ending her light duty assignment. In so holding, the court ruled that an employee had pled a cause of action for “quid pro quo” sexual harassment under Title VII and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The case involved an employee...
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Court Affirms Dismissal of Vacationing Employee's FMLA Claim

On October 31st, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a Virginia federal court's dismissal of an airline employee's FMLA retaliation claim.  The case arose when United Airlines fired the employee for using intermittent FMLA leave to excuse his failure to work the one shift he was scheduled to work during a lengthy vacation.  Sharif v. United Airlines, et. al., No. 15-1747 (4th Cir. 10/31/16). According to the court's...
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