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Employee’s speculation related to basis of his firing is insufficient to support a claim of retaliation.

To prevail on a claim of retaliation under federal law, an employee must prove he or she engaged in a “protected activity” under an anti-discrimination statute, and subsequently suffered an adverse employment action. In addition, the employee must establish that the protected activity was “causally connected” to the employer’s adverse action.

Releases of Liability: Do's and Don't's for Employers

Employers often use waivers and releases of claims in agreements with former employees, either as part of a separation agreement at the time employment ends or in a settlement agreement after a former employee has raised claims against the employer. Both of these types of agreements have garnered attention lately, serving as a reminder of some best practice approaches in each context.

Separation Agreements Continue to Generate Litigation

It is common for employers to assume that frequently used agreements contain legal boilerplate that needs no review or revision. They are wrong. In yet another case challenging the legality of a separation agreement, the EEOC recently filed suit in federal court in Chicago against national retailer CVS Caremark, alleging that CVS violated Title VII by including in its separation agreement terms that many employers take for granted. The EEOC alleges that the release, cooperation, confidential information and non-disparagement provisions in the company's widely used separation agreement unlawfully interfere with an individual's rights under Title VII. The EEOC has brought the case as a systemic action, seeking to reopen hundreds of agreements that have been?signed.

eLABORate: Court Rejects EEOC Claim that Employer's Use of Claim Waivers was Retaliation

In a recent defeat for the EEOC, a federal district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reaffirmed the use of severance agreements as part of a company’s reorganization, or reduction in force, to obtain releases of potential federal claims against the employer, while shedding light on the EEOC’s continued and increased focus on such releases.

Bill Seeks to Reverse Pro-Employer Vance Decision

Members of the House and Senate on Thursday introduced legislation that would effectively overturn last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Vance v. Ball State University. In Vance, the Court held that an employee is not a “supervisor” – and therefore does not subject the employer to vicarious liability under Title VII for the employee’s actions – unless the employee is empowered to take tangible employment actions against other employees. The Fair Employment Protection Act (H.R.4227, S. 2133) introduced in the House by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and in the Senate by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), “corrects the error in the Vance decision and clarifies under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as other federal antidiscrimination statutes, who counts as a ‘supervisor’ for the purpose of holding employers responsible for unlawful harassment.”

How to Protect Your Summary Judgment Win: Employer’s Victory Reversed in Age Bias Case

Motions for summary judgment are among the most important—and efficient—devices for defeating a discrimination suit brought by an employee against an employer. If successful, these motions serve to narrow issues to be litigated, avoid costly trials, and encourage opposing parties to consider settlement.

EMPLOYEES: Keeping your settlement confidential is easy, so do it!

Employees who sue their employers and then settle -- can we talk?

Recommendations in Response to the EEOC’s New Lawsuit on Severance Agreements

On February 7, 2014, the Chicago District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against CVS Pharmacy, Inc., claiming that a severance agreement used by the company violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it is “overly broad, misleading and unenforceable....” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., civil action no. 14-cv-863 (N.D. Ill., February 7, 2014). This ASAP will address the background to this lawsuit, describe the EEOC’s new and aggressive position toward severance agreements, and provide recommendations for employers.

Tenth Circuit Rules On "Termination By Committee"

On January 21, a federal appeals court addressed whether an employee terminated by group decision (six managers) can be considered “similarly situated” to employees who were disciplined less severely by a different decisional group, consisting of some but not all of the same managers. Reversing the summary judgment decision of a Wyoming trial court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit stated:

Can Your Severance Agreement Survive the EEOC?

A few weeks ago, we issued a client bulletin by David Phippen entitled, "Can Your Employment Policies Survive the NLRB?" Now it appears that severance agreements will have to survive the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well.