Can an employee make a wrongful discharge claim on the grounds that she was forced to quit?
Perhaps so-in a recent decision from the federal court in the Western District of Virginia, the court, anticipating how the Supreme Court of Virginia would rule on this issue, found that a plaintiff may be able to state a claim of wrongful discharge against his or her employer even where he or she resigned if his or her working conditions were intolerable and the termination was in violation of the clear and unequivocal public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Faulkner v. Dillon, et al., Case No.: 1:14cv00081 (March 23, 2015).…READ MORE
Punitive Damages Allowed in Title VII Case Even Where Only Nominal Damages Awarded
Title VII allows both compensatory and punitive damages and there is a statutory cap that applies, depending upon the size of the employer ($300,000 in the case of employers with more than 500 employees). 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. In a sexual harassment case before the Ninth Circuit, the question was whether punitive damages are available in a case where a jury has awarded only nominal damages in the amount of $1.00 and not compensatory damages. The Ninth Circuit, ruling en banc, overruled a prior panel decision and decided that an award of punitive damages in this case would be permissible and would not violate due process. Arizona v. ASARCO LLC, No. 11-1784 (9th Cir. Dec. 10, 2014).…READ MORE
Tenth Circuit Tackles Supervisor Issue
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.…READ MORE