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Fourth Circuit Sets Employee-Friendly Standard for Title VII Retaliation Claims

A former waitress’s hostile work environment and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against the employer should go to a jury, the Richmond-based federal appellate court has ruled in a decision that sets a more employee-friendly standard for such claims. Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015) (en banc). The Court overruled precedent in the circuit by finding a single incident can be severe enough to trigger Title VII’s protection.

Ninth Circuit Overturns Summary Judgment Issued in Favor of Employer in Retaliation Case

Lukov v. Schindler Elevator Corp., No. 12-17695 (February 24, 2015): In an unpublished decision, the Ninth Circuit recently overturned summary judgment granted to an employer on the plaintiff’s retaliation claims. William Lukov worked as an elevator mechanic for Schindler Elevator Corporation. While employed by Schindler, Lukov reported a safety issue with a department store’s elevator to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). Several months after he complained, Schindler laid off Lukov off as part of a reduction in force. Lukov sued for retaliation in violation of California Labor Code sections 1102.5 and 6310. Labor Code section 6310 prohibits an employer from discharging an employee who has “made any oral or written complaint to [DOSH].” Labor Code section 1102.5 protects employees from retaliation for disclosing a violation of statute or law to a governmental agency.

A Single "Hitler" Comment Is Insufficient for a Title VII Retaliation Claim in the Fifth Circuit

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment against a City of Houston employee who claimed that he was demoted for reporting another employee’s racially offensive comment made during a workplace meeting. According to the federal appellate court, the worker had not engaged in a protected activity by reporting the single, isolated remark. Satterwhite v. City of Houston, No. 14-20240, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal (March 3, 2015).

Will Employers Have an Affirmative Defense in EEOC Litigation? A Look at the Supreme Court’s Upcoming Decision

In the coming months, the Supreme Court of the United States will determine the level of judicial review, if any, that will be applied to employers’ pre-litigation negotiations with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in discrimination cases. In Mach Mining, L.L.C. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Court will consider language in Title VII requiring the EEOC to “endeavor to eliminate any . . . alleged unlawful employment practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” Specifically, the question is whether—and to what extent—courts may review the EEOC’s efforts to conciliate discrimination claims before the agency files suit against an employer. Employers argue that the EEOC’s failure to conciliate provides them with an affirmative defense to the merits of a discrimination suit.

Retaliation Dominated EEOC Charges in 2014, Agency Statistics Show

The number of discrimination charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in fiscal year 2014 reached the lowest level since 2007, according to recently published statistics from the EEOC. Retaliation charges, however, made up 42.8 percent of all charges in the same time period, the highest percentage ever.

What’s your workplace retaliation IQ?

It’s been a while since we’ve had an employment law quiz, so let’s do it! This one is on retaliation. As always, the answers will be provided after each question — you have our “no-pressure” guarantee.

Fifth Circuit Declines to Clarify When an Employment Action is "Adverse" Enough to Support a Discrimination Claim

When presented with an employment discrimination claim, one of the early questions any agency or court must answer is whether the claimant has suffered an “adverse employment action.” Simply stated, even if a discriminatory motive can be shown, is the harm suffered by the claimant significant enough to support a viable discrimination claim? This question arises regardless of whether the complaint is made under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), or other state or federal employment law. Not every slight, indignity, or inconvenience experienced in the workplace is sufficient to meet this standard, but where does one draw the line?

You've gotta be kidding. THIS is retaliation?

Guess what? You know those SEC disclosures about pending litigation that publicly held companies are required by law to make? Well, if an employer says too much, it may be “retaliating” against the litigants.

Avoiding Liability For Retaliation Claims: Issue Spotting In Real Time

Lonnie Giamela and John Mavros’ article “Avoiding Liability For Retaliation Claims: Issue Spotting In Real Time” was featured in the December issue of Hotel Executive.

Upcoming Supreme Court Decision Could Change the EEOC Litigation Landscape for Employers

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether and to what extent a court may enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit could significantly change the landscape of EEOC litigation for employers. The court will hear the case during its 2014–2015 term, and its decision has the potential to prevent federal courts from reviewing pre-suit conciliation efforts. This would, in effect, allow the EEOC to proceed unchecked with respect to conciliation. It could also result in less productive conciliation and increased litigation for employers. More importantly, such an outcome would deprive employers of any meaningful recourse in the event that the EEOC’s conciliation efforts are not made in good faith.