Ogletree Deakins • April 30, 2013
A female plumber on “light duty” in the City of Chicago’s Department of Sewers filed a lawsuit alleging that because she was female, her supervisor assigned menial work to her, prohibited her coworkers from interacting with her, and subjected her to alleged “verbal violence.” While the district court viewed each of those actions individually and found that none constituted hostile work environment under Title VII, the7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s summary judgment in favor of the City, and determined that the case should move forward to trial, on the basis that a jury could find that the collective treatment could rise to the level of hostile environment. Anna M. Hall v. City of Chicago, 7th Cir., No. 11-3279, March 29, 2013.
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP • April 15, 2013
Through the mist, I spy a circuit split developing on same-sex harassment, a veritable nor’easter.
Barker Olmsted & Barnier • April 09, 2013
What happens when a mouthy co-worker makes crude sexual comments and the supervisor stands idly by? Sounds like a recipe for litigation. But not all crude conduct in the work place rises to the level of unlawful “sexual harassment.” Crude conduct that is occasional, isolated, sporadic, or trivial might violate company policy, but not the law. Where does it cross the line? In a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal decision titled Westendorf v. West Coast Contractors, a federal court decided if the line was crossed.
Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP • April 08, 2013
Five quick ones from the harassment world, plus a "bonus track" involving our old friends Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer.
Jackson Lewis LLP • March 19, 2013
A graduate student who was allegedly harassed by a university’s football players could not pursue her sexual harassment claims against the university, but her retaliation claim could continue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled. Summa v. Hofstra Univ., No. 11-1743 (2d Cir. Feb. 21, 2013). Affirming summary judgment in favor of Hofstra University on the student’s claims under Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), the Court, adopting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s rules on harassment by non-employees, ruled the university could not be held liable because it promptly responded to the student’s complaints about the players’ conduct and took appropriate remedial action. The Court reversed the dismissal of the student’s retaliation claim, however, finding the student offered sufficient proof that the university’s reasons for terminating her employment were pretextual. The Court declined to address whether Title IX provides a private right of action for employment discrimination and dismissed the Title IX claim as duplicative of the Title VII claim.
Goldberg Segalla LLP • March 14, 2013
A recent federal court decision provides a useful reminder that abusive and offensive behavior that is targeted at employees of one gender can amount to unlawful sexual harassment. The particular behavior involved in this case was specifically “sexual” in nature, but the court’s decision makes it clear that even behavior with no sexual content can be sexual harassment if it is directed only at males or only at females.
Fisher & Phillips, LLP • March 04, 2013
Lawyers are justly proud when they win a difficult discrimination or harassment case. But after a couple of hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, disruption at work, and harm to reputation, an employer may decide that a few more similar “victories” could shut them down.
Fisher & Phillips, LLP • February 08, 2013
Nora Roberts said, "Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice." But love and the workplace? Well, that is a different ballgame.
Barker Olmsted & Barnier • February 08, 2013
As Valentines Day approaches, some of your employees are getting into a romantic mood—perhaps with their co-workers. Your killjoy lawyer asks a question: Should an employer be concerned about workplace romances?
Jackson Lewis LLP • February 08, 2013
Valentine’s Day, February 14th, brings out the fun and flirty side of some employees. They may express themselves in e-mails, jokes and overtures to co-workers. Their intentions usually are innocent, but, as we all have learned, the thought may not mitigate the deed. Professions of innocence litter the road to court. What one employee considers fun can be seen quite differently by another. While no employer cares to be the “romance police,” employers need to maintain a safe and harmonious work environment.