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Seventh Circuit Holds Employees May Bring Sexual Orientation Employment Discrimination Claims

The Seventh Circuit has become the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule that employees may bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. This case directly affects state and local governments in their capacity as employers in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Kimberly Hively is openly lesbian. She sued Ivy Tech Community College where she taught as a part-time, adjunct professor. She applied for at least six full-time positions between 2009 and 2014, didn’t receive any of them, and in July 2014, her part-time contract was not renewed. She believes her sexual orientation is the reason.

The Seventh Circuit had long held that sexual orientation discrimination claims weren’t cognizable under Title VII. The court decided to revisit this conclusion “in light of developments at the Supreme Court extending over two decades.” These decisions include Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which granted same-sex couples a constitutional right to marry.  Continue reading

 

Out of Style? Expecting Employees to Inform Employers about Religious Practices

The Supreme Court’s final employment case of the term is a loss for all employers—not just clothing retailers that impose their fashion sense on their employees. As Justice Thomas points out in his dissenting opinion, rather remarkably, it leaves open the possibility that an employer can be liable for intentional discrimination for failing to accommodate a practice it did not know or even suspect was religious.

In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores the Supreme Court held 8-1 that to bring a religious accommodation claim an applicant or employee need only show that his or her need for a religious accommodation was a motivating factor in an employment decision. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief, which IMLA attorneys wrote, arguing that to bring a failure to accommodate claim the applicant/employee should have to notify the employer of the need for a religious accommodation. Continue reading

 

Employers (and Employees) Win SCOTUS Employment Case

It is a rare Supreme Court case where employers and arguably employees both won (and the Court doesn’t “split the baby” and rule partially in favor of each party).  In Mach Mining v. EEOC the only clear losing party is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The Supreme Court held unanimously that a court may review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) satisfied its statutory obligation to attempt to conciliate employment discrimination claims before filing a lawsuit.

The Court’s decision is favorable to employers, including state and local governments, who benefit from the EEOC’s statutory mandate to try to resolve employment discrimination cases before suing employers. If the EEOC fails to try to conciliate employers may sue the EEOC. Employees benefit from conciliation because it is faster and less demanding that litigation.

Continue reading

 

SCOTUS Rules No Favored Nation Status for Pregnant Workers

Young v. United Parcel Service presents a dilemma most employers, including states, can relate to.  What should an employer do if a pregnant employee’s job requires that she lift an amount well above what her doctor has approved during pregnancy?

The specific issue the Court had to decide in this case was whether an employer violated Title VII because it accommodated many but not all nonpregnancy-related disabilities but did not accommodate pregnancy-related disabilities.  Maybe, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision. Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Second Circuit

  • Raspardo v. Carlone, No. 12-1686 (Oct. 6, 2014): In 1983 Title VII employment discrimination case brought by female police officers alleging hostile work environment and disparate treatment, the court affirmed denial of qualified immunity for one officer on hostile-work-environment claim, and reversed denial of qualified immunity for other officers.
  • Sunrise Detox V, LLC v. City of White Plains, No. 13-2911 (Oct. 2, 2014): In case in which  City denied request for facility to provide care for those recovering from alcohol and drug abuse because facility did not satisfy zoning requirements, the court affirmed district court’s determination that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over ADA suit. Suit was not ripe because applicant had not sought variance or appealed the zoning decision.
  • Grogan v. Blooming Grove Volunteer Ambulance Corps, No. 13-656 (Sept. 29, 2014): The court affirmed dismissal of 1983 action after it determined that private emergency medical care and general ambulance services contracted for by municipality do not constitute “state action.”

Seventh Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

First Circuit

  • Town of Johnston v. Fed. Housing Finance Agency, No. 13-2034 (Aug. 27, 2014): The court affirmed the dismissal of the municipalities’ claim that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed to pay taxes on property transfers; the court found that statutory exemptions from taxation applied. As the court put it: “Six other circuits have recently considered this attempt to shoe-horn a transfer tax into a real property tax, and they have unanimously rejected the argument.”

Second Circuit

Third Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:

SCT stairs[Update: I added the Ninth Circuit’s Daubert decision. (7/31)]
Second Circuit

Carter v. Inc. Vill. of Ocean Beach, No. 13-815 (July 21, 2014): Affirming award of attorney’s fees to County defendants in case brought by former police officers alleging wrongful termination and defamation.

Cox v. Onondaga Sheriff’s Dept., No. 12-1526 (July 23, 2014): Affirming dismissal of complaint alleging Title VII retaliation for racial-harassment claims.

Reyes v. New York City Dept. of Ed., No. 13-158 (July 25, 2014): Finding that under IDEA, proposed IEP and school placement failed to provide student with free appropriate public education.

Fourth Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:law books

Sixth Circuit

Hescott v. City of Saginaw, No. 13-2103 (July 2, 2014) (ruling that district court erred denying attorney’s fees to Hescotts in their successful 1983 action claiming that the City had unconstitutionally seized their personal effects by demolishing their property).

Seventh Circuit

Scherr v. City of Chicago, No. 13-1992 (July 2, 2014) (affirming that 1983 suit against officer based on alleged Fourth-Amendment violation was properly dismissed). Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:Alexandria-court

First Circuit

Second Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:SCT pillars

Third Circuit

  • Rosano v. Township of Teaneck, No. 13-1263 (June 10, 2014) (in action by current and former police officers against Township alleging violation of Fair Labor Standards Act because it did not pay proper overtime and provide compensation for attending daily roll calls and putting on and taking off uniforms, affirming grant of summary judgment for Township).

Seventh Circuit

Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:FedPrac

First Circuit

Fifth Circuit

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:

Seventh Circuit

Ninth Circuit