Title VII

Summary Judgment Granted to Plaintiff Claiming FBI’s Gender-Based Push-up Requirements in Violation of Title VII

Posted on August 1, 2014

Is it discrimination for the FBI to require its male trainees to perform 30 push-ups while only requiring 14 push-ups from its female trainees in a physical fitness test? In June, a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that it was. Bauer v. Holder, Case No. 1:13-cv-93 (E.D.Va. June 10, 2014). A male FBI trainee failed to perform the required 30 push-ups and argued that this requirement discriminated against him on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII in light of the fact that female trainees are only required to perform 14 push-ups. The Attorney General argued that this does not constitute impermissible discrimination because the different standards are based on innate physiological differences between males and females and these standards impose no greater burden on men than on women.…

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New Guidance from EEOC on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted on July 18, 2014

Earlier this week, the EEOC issued a Notice titled Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. The EEOC provides an overview of statutory protections, discussing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and other requirements affecting pregnant workers, including the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Executive Order 13152 Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Status as Parent, Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires that employers provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers, and state laws that relate to pregnant workers. The EEOC provides a number of helpful examples of what would and would not constitute unlawful discrimination and is a useful tool for employers to review. This guidance can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm.…

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Pregnancy Discrimination Case Settled for $25,000

Posted on June 27, 2014

According to an EEOC press release earlier this week, a property management company in Maryland has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit where the allegations were that the pregnant employee was terminated after she requested to discontinue working with certain cleaning products, but was unable to provide certain documentation from her doctor clearing her to work with cleaning chemicals. The EEOC filed suit on behalf of the employee in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in the case of EEOC v. Greystar Management Services, L.P., No. 1:11-cv-02789.…

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Employer May Be Liable Where Spurned Co-Worker Takes Action to Get Employee Fired

Posted on June 13, 2014

The Supreme Court has previously ruled on the issue of employer liability premised on a finding of negligence in cases involving hostile workplace. But, yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court is whether an employer can face liability when a co-worker (instead of a supervisor) commits a discriminatory act that influences an ultimate employment decision. The First Circuit recently answered this question in the affirmative, finding that an employer can be liable if it fires an employee based upon complaints that it knew or reasonably should have known were the product of discriminatory animus. Velazquez-Perez v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp., et al., No. 12-2226 (1st Cir. May 23, 2014).…

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Classifying Former Employee as a New Hire Can Provide Basis for Retaliation Claim

Posted on June 6, 2014

Recently, Judge Payne of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that a plaintiff’s claim that he was retaliated against when he was rehired by his employer after engaging in protected activity, but reassigned to a new site forty-seven miles away from his original sites without the supervisory responsibilities he previously held and was classified as a new hire. Chamblee v. Old Dominion Security Company, et al., No. 3:13cv820 (April 11, 2014).…

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Fourth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Third Party Harassment Claim

Posted on May 16, 2014

In a recent decision, the Fourth Circuit has joined other circuits in holding that a negligence standard applies to third party harassment claims under Title VII, an issue the United States Supreme Court has yet to reach.  In Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., et al., No. 131481 (4th Cir. April 29, 2014), the Fourth Circuit concluded that a black female former employee had triable racial and sexual harassment claims under Title VII based on evidence that her employer failed to respond adequately to harassment from a customer.…

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Burden of Showing Materially Adverse Action in Title VII Retaliation Claim Less Onerous Than Required to Show Adverse Employment Action for Purposes in Title VII Discrimination Claim

Posted on April 25, 2014

In its recent decision in Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, et al., No. 13-1640 (March 13, 2014), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reminded us that the type of adverse action required to support a retaliation claim under Title VII is very different than that necessary to support a claim for discrimination under Title VII. In Laster, the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s summary judgment ruling as it pertained to the plaintiff’s Title VII retaliation claim on the grounds that the plaintiff had sufficiently stated a claim for retaliation in violation of Title VII when he had identified a number of ways in which a reasonable worker could have been dissuaded from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.…

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EEOC Has to Pay for Unreasonably Instituting Litigation

Posted on April 4, 2014
Posted in Title VII

Title VII includes a fee-shifting provision, allowing district courts discretion to award reasonable attorneys’ fees to a prevailing party. But what if the non-prevailing party is the EEOC? The Fourth Circuit recently affirmed a district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to a prevailing defendant in a case brought by the EEOC where the district court had determined that the EEOC acted unreasonably in initiating litigation. EEOC v. Propak Logistics, Inc., No. 13-1687 (4th Cir. March 25, 2014).…

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New Guidance From EEOC on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace

Posted on March 14, 2014

Last week, the EEOC issued two new technical assistance publications related to workplace rights and responsibilities regarding religious dress and grooming under Title VII. The two publications issued by the EEOC are a question and answer guide, titled “Religious Garb in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities” and a fact sheet to accompany this publication (found at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_religious_garb_grooming.cfm). According to the EEOC press release regarding these publications, religious discrimination charges have been steadily increasing and the EEOC received 3721 charges asserting religious discrimination in fiscal year 2013.…

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Tenth Circuit Tackles Supervisor Issue

Posted on February 28, 2014

In Vance v. Ball State Univ., 133 S.Ct. 2434, 2441 (2013), the Supreme Court resolved a conflict among the circuits regarding what level of authority a harasser must have in order to qualify as a supervisor under Title VII in the context of a claim of sexual harassment.  However, there remain questions as to how to apply the Supreme Court’s directive in Vance.  Just this week, the Tenth Circuit addressed some of these issues in Kramer v. Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, et al., No. 12-4058 (February 25, 2014), finding that a bailiff’s immediate supervisor who had engaged in egregious acts of sexual harassment toward her could be a supervisor under Title VII.…

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