Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Employee in Process of Getting Divorce Protected From Marital Status Discrimination

In a major ruling, the NJ Appellate Division held that an employee who was going through a divorce stated a cause of action for marital status discrimination. Smith v. Millville, (June 27, 2014). As the court explained:

        "Marital status" necessarily embraces stages preliminary to
        marriage — one's engagement to be married. The term also covers
        stages preliminary to marital dissolution — separation and
        involvement in divorce proceedings. The apparent purpose of the
        ban on marital-status-based discrimination is to shield persons
        from an employer's interference in one of the most personal
        decisions an individual makes — whether to marry, and to remain
        married. 

This is an important issue. Law review commentary on this most important topic would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 1, 2014 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boys Scouts Revokes Charter For Refusing To Fire Gay Scout Leader

Sometimes you cannnot make this stuff up. The NY Times reports that the Boy Scouts revoked the charter of an affiliate who refused the fire a Scout leader because he was gay. As the article states:

The Boy Scouts of America, whichvoted last year to allow gay scouts but not openly gay scout leaders, has revoked the charter of a church-sponsored troop here for refusing to fire its adult gay scoutmaster.

The decision, which one gay rights organization said was a first since the policy change last year, essentially bars the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church and its 15 scouts from using logos, uniforms or names associated with the Boy Scouts as long as the scoutmaster and Eagle Scout Geoffrey McGrath, 49, remains in charge.

Mitchell Rubinstein

April 21, 2014 in Discrimination Law, Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pregnant Worker's Severe Morning Sickness Not Disability, but Retaliation Claim Survives

Plaintiff failed to prove disability discrimination because she didn't show that her pregnancy and morning sickness constituted a “disability” under federal or state law, a federal judge ruledNov. 22 (Wonasue v. Univ. of Md. Alumni Ass'n, 2013 BL 326278, D. Md., No. 8:11-cv-03657-DKC, 11/22/13).
The court reasoned that pregnancy alone isn't a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act or the Maryland Employment Discrimination Law. It added that pregnancy-based medical complications may rise to the level of disability but felt contrained by 4th Circuit precedent which found that a similar plaintiff did not establish that this condition  substantially limited a worker in the performance of a major life activity, as required to prove a disability.
 
But she may go forward with a retaliation claim under the Rehabilitation Act, the court decided.
Denying an employee experiencing pregnancy-related complications permission to work from home may constitute an adverse employment action for purposes of federal disability rights law.
 

December 15, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Title VII Claim Survives Where Plaintiff Called a Skinny Bitch

A school bus driver who allegedly was fired for complaining that co-workers spread false rumors that she engaged in extramarital affairs and called her names such as “skinny bitch” and “whore” can pursue a retaliation claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Billings v. Sw. Allen Cnty. Sch., ___F.Supp. 2d ___(N.D. Ind. 10-17-13).

November 24, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Discrimination and Criminal Background Checks

EEOC v Freeman, ____F.Supp.2d ____(D. Maryland August 9, 2013) is an important case. In a well written decision, the court rejects the EEOC claim that an employer violated Title VII by refusing to hire a minority applicant after a criminal background check was performed. 

This case contains an excellent review of disparate impact and was very critical of the statistical experts retained by the EEOC.

Law review commentary on this important issue would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 29, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Victimless Sexual Harassment

Professor Charles Sullivan (Seton Hall) wrote an interesting blog posting on victimless sexual harassment where the harasser degrades woman in general, but not a particular individual. He cites to a NJ Supreme Court decision which found this conduct actionable. 

Law review commentary would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 2, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Association Discrimination Against The Disabled

A medical supply company employee in Massachusetts fired for alleged time fraud while his wife was receiving inpatient treatment for a brain tumor may pursue a state law civil rights claim based on alleged bias for his association with a disabled family member, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rules (Flagg v. AliMed, Inc., Mass., No. SJC-11182, 7/19/13).

August 14, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

7th Cir. Holds Claim For Same Sex Harassment Stated

7thCir

A black male former concrete yard worker in Illinois provided sufficient notice of a male co-worker's alleged same-sex harassment by complaining to employees who had higher authority than he did but lacked the power to take tangible employment actions against other workers, the Seventh Circuitholds (Lambert v. Peri Formworks Sys., Inc., 7th Cir., No. 12-2502, 7/24/13).

August 11, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Employee Fired For Adding Him To Benefits Claim Lacks Discrimination Claim

An unmarried, heterosexual female employee of who was fired because she listed her boyfriend as her "spouse" and "same-sex partner" on her benefit enrollment forms lacks marital status and sexual orientation discrimination claims under state law. Hanson v. Mental Health Res. Inc.,____F.Supp. 2d___( D. Minn., No. 12-00540, 6/3/13).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 30, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fifth Circuit Holds Lactation Discrimination is Unlawful Sex Discrimination

 The Fifth Circuit held unanimously that firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978).  Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to protect working women against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. A copy of a May 31, 2013 EEOC Press Release describing this case is available here.

Law review commentary on this issue would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 30, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EEOC Updates Guidance Documents on Disablity Discrimination

On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updates to four 
informal  “Question and Answer” guidance documents relating to protections against disability 
discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each of the guidance documents, 
which are available on the EEOC’s website, focuses on a different condition (cancer, diabetes, 
epilepsy and intellectual disabilities) and, according  to the EEOC, reflect changes made 
by the ADA Amendments Act .
A copy of the revised guidance documents can be found here. An EEOC May 15, 2013 Press Release 
describing these changes can be found here.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 25, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hostile Environment Cases Under Title VII, 1981 and NY Human Rights Law Are Subject To Same Standards

Sanchez-Vazquez v. Rochester City School District, ___F.3d___ (2d Cir. May 14, 2013), is an important case because the 2d Circuit holds that hostile work environment cases under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981 and the NYS Human Rights Law are all analyzed under the same standards. The case also demonstrates that it is difficult to make out a cause of action if only a few offensive comments were made over a period of years.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 23, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fifth Circuit: Expressing Mom Protected from Sex Discrimination

In a published opinion, the a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel last week, in a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC, reversed summary judgment for an employer that allegedly discharged an employee for expressing milk while at work.  The lower court earlier found, as a matter of law, that discharging a lactating female employee for expressing milk does not constitute sex discrimination.  The Fifth Circuit held that discriminating against a woman who is lactating or expressing breast milk violates federal sex discrimination laws.

The opinion is EEOC v. Houston Funding II., Ltd., No. 12-20220 (5th Cir., May 30, 2013).  The opinion, by Judge Grady Jolly, was unanamous, with Judge Edith Jones concurring.  The Houston Chronicle's story on the case adds this interesting tid-bit.

"You would think there would be reported case law on this," said Jim Sacher, regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Houston, which is handling the case and its appeal on behalf of Venters.

But this is the first definitive decision in the country that firing someone because of lactation is an example of sex discrimination, Sacher said.

Craig Estlinbaum

June 4, 2013 in Discrimination Law, Employment Discrimination, Federal Law, Interesting Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 3, 2013

New York City Statute Establishes Unemployed As A Protected Group

Later this month, a NYC Local Law goes into effective which establishes unemploymed as a protected group. An excellent, summary of this new law is Geoffrey Mort, Implications of Statute Establishing Unemployed As A Protected Group, NYLJ (May 20, 2013). As the article explains:

When the New York City Council in March voted to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto and enacted a law prohibiting employment discrimination against unemployed persons, it created the first new protected group in New York since the state Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act was passed some years ago. The new act, with several exceptions discussed below, makes it unlawful for employers with four or more employees to discriminate with respect to hiring, compensation or the terms and conditions of employment against any unemployed person seeking a job or to advertise for a position and require current employment as a qualification. The purpose of the New York City Local Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on an Individual's Unemployment is straightforward: in advocating for its passage, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn stated that "[w]e want to do everything we can to help people work" and said that a psychological stigma attached to being unemployed is "completely unfair."

 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 3, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, New York Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unsucessful Law Professor Job Applicant Loses Discrimination Case

(Dobkin v. Univ. of Iowa,  Iowa Ct. App.  No. 2-1096/12-1012,  2/13/13) is an interesting case. The court held that the lower court  properly denied admission of an article from a law journal newspaper written by a witness for the age-protected job applicant who was denied an employment offer at the law school, despite contentions that opinions contained in the article were based on empirical evidence and that the law school “opened [the] door” for the article's admission, where the article was inadmissible hearsay with no applicable exception. 

One of these days law schools are going to start to get hit for institutional age discrimination.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 30, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Professors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Surprise, Surprise A Boss Who Exposes Himself Faces Sexual Harassment

Sometimes you just cannot make these cases up. An emergency medical technician claiming her supervisor exposed his testicles after she told him he "didn't have any balls" can proceed with a sexual harassment claim against her former boss under California law. Angel v. Am. Med. Response West, ___F. Supp. 2d____(E.D. Cal. 4/25/13).

A supervisor allegedly unzipped his pants and pulled out his testicles during an argument with plaintiff at work. The court concluded that the single incident was sufficiently severe to support the action.

MItchell H. Rubinstein

April 30, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Health Care Employees—Nondiscriminatory Reasons—Narcotics Overprescription

3dCir

 

Ball v. Einstein Cmty. Health Assocs.  ____F.3d___(3d. Cir. 2/14/13), is an interesting case.
The Third Circuit holds that billing errors, overprescription of narcotics, and the failure to refer drug-seeking patients to a pain management specialist were legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for a medical practice not to renew a 73-year-old primary care physician's contract, which he failed to show were pretextual, where the physician prescribed narcotics at about twice the rate of other physicians in his office; additionally, there is no evidence that he was treated differently than similarly situated younger physicians.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 10, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Disabilities—Discrimination—Alcoholism

(Diaz v. Saucon Valley Manor Inc., E.D. Pa., No. 5:12-cv-00433, 3/5/13), is an interesting decision. 
An alcoholic cook who was fired after being arrested for public drunkenness and ordered to enter a treatment program raised a disputed fact issue as to whether her termination was discriminatory by showing that she received an “excellent” performance review six weeks earlier and that her employer knew of her alcoholism and approved her request for related medical leave and did not fire another worker following an arrest. Thus, summary judgment for the employer on her claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state law was denied.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 8, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Interesting Same Sex Harassment Case Decided By 2d Circuit

2dcircseal
A male food industry worker in New York presented sufficient evidence to prove he was sexually harassed by a male supervisor, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held Feb. 25, reviving his sex discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and state law  Barrows v. Seneca Foods Corp., ____F.3d____(2d Cir. 2/25/13 ).
A reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff was subjected to same-sex sexual harassment by one of his supervisors at Seneca Foods Corp. The 2d Circuit held that  a lower court erred in deciding that the s alleged harassment, which purportedly included requesting a “blowjob” and touching the genitals of Barrows and other male employees, was not based on sex.

March 25, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

7th Circuit Affirms Large ADA Verdict and Punitive Damages

7thCir

The 7th Circuit recently held that an employer is liable under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failure to accommodate a parts sales manager who asked to be excused from mopping store floors because it aggravated his back condition and properly was assessed $200,000 in punitive damages for “reckless indifference” to his rights. EEOC v. AutoZone Inc., ___F.3d____(7th Cir., No. 12-1017, 2/15/13).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 19, 2013 in Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (0)