fourth circuit

Look out—possibly more hostile work environment claims ahead

Posted on May 15, 2015

Following the recent ruling of the Fourth Circuit after an en banc rehearing, employers may face more claims for hostile work environment. In Boyer-Liberto v. Fountainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the Fourth Circuit overturned a prior decision by its own panel and the district court and found that an extremely serious instance of harassment, even if it is isolated, can support a claim for hostile work environment and also provide a basis for a claim of retaliation if the isolated incident is physically threatening or humiliating.…

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Eleventh Amendment Bars FLSA Claim against Supervisors at Eastern State Hospital Where Actions Inextricably Tied to Official Duties

Posted on November 21, 2014

Earlier this week, the Fourth Circuit directed the district court to dismiss a FLSA claim brought by a nurse against two of her supervisors at Eastern State Hospital, finding that there was no basis for individual liability and sovereign immunity barred the claims. Martin v. Wood, et al., Case No. 13-2283 (4th Cir. Nov. 18, 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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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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A Sufficiently Severe Temporary Impairment May Constitute a Disability

Posted on January 31, 2014

There is no question that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA") broadened the meaning of “disability and provide employees even greater protection under the ADA. However, there remain some areas of uncertainty with regard to this new, broader definition. One such question was how the permanence of an impairment (or lack thereof) would affect the disability determination. The Fourth Circuit addressed this issue head on in Summers v. Altarum Institute, Corp., No. 13-1645 (4th Cir. January 23, 2014) and, while noting that it was the first appellate court to apply the expanded definition of “disability” under the ADAAA, concluded that a severe temporary impairment can constitute a disability.…

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It Isn’t All About the Ultimate Decisionmaker—Fourth Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment in Favor of Employer in ADEA Case

Posted on January 8, 2014

As employers, we often focus on what knowledge was in the hands of the ultimate decisionmaker at the time a crucial employment decision is made.  However, as the Fourth Circuit reminds us in its decision in Harris v. Powhatan County School Board, No. 12-2091, the knowledge and intent of those who have the power and ability to influence those decisionmakers also must be considered and can support a claim for discrimination. Alexander Harris was a seventy-two-year-old African American custodial worker whose position as a custodial worker for the Powhatan County School System was eliminated in 2009 after fifty-two years of employment.…

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