Title VII

Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie & Fitch In Religious Failure to Hire Claim

Recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in an employment discrimination lawsuit.  Abercrombie has a "look policy" which governs what its employees can wear - specifically, the employer barred its employees from wearing hats.  Samantha Elauf is a practicing Muslim.  In accordance with her faith, she wears a headscarf.  Elauf applied for a job and Heather Cooke, the store's assistant manager, found she was qualified.  Cooke, however, thought that the headscarf would violate the look policy.  She conferred with Randall Johnson, the district manager.  Johnson told Cooke not to hire her as it would violate the look policy, and Cooke followed the instruction.  The EEOC filed suit, alleging that the retailer discriminated against her on the basis of religion.  While the district court found in her favor, the appeals court reversed, reasoning that an employer could not be held liable for failure to accomodate unless the applicant or employee provides the employer with actual need for a religious accomodation.  The United States Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that the plaintiff need only show that the need for a religious accomodation was a motivating factor in the employment decision.  While this was a case decided on fairly narrow facts, it was a very big victory for employees, who in the future, need not specifically voice their request for an accomodation.

Hollander Law Offices Files Pregnancy Case Against John Barleycorn

Jacquelyn Johnson loved her job as a Bartender at John Barleycorn in Schaumburg.  All that changed however, when she learned that she was pregnant, and informed her employer this past New Year's Eve.  Immediately afterward, Ms. Johnson found that she was no longer scheduled to work the very lucrative parties provided by the bar.  Two weeks later, the General Manager sent her a text message, "Hey, I can't have you work while you are pregnant.  It's too much of a liability for the bar...It's from upper management."  Shocked and saddened, Ms. Johnson filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.  On July 17, 2014, The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging pregnancy discrimination.  The story was carried by NBC Chicago.

EEOC Lawsuits Hit Record 20 Year Low

Despite a troubled economy, and counter to conventional wisdom, the federal agency which monitors workplace discrimination, the EEOC, reported that it filed 122 lawsuits nationally for its fiscal year ended September 30.  This figure is far less than usual.  The agency prosecutes workplace violations involving age, race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, sexual harassment, retaliation, and disability discrimination.  The EEOC does not have jurisdiction to prosecute claims that arise under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.  Apparently, the agency is focusing on systemic or widespread areas of discrimination, as opposed to pursuing single instances of civil rights violations.  Since 1992, except for one year, the EEOC has filed at least 200 lawsuits.  According to the EEOC's website, it filed an average of 333 lawsuits annually since that time.  Regardless, this number is a fraction of the charges of the total number of charges of employment discrimination filed annually.  For fiscal year 2011, 6,098 charges of employment discrimination were filed in Illinois alone.  Thus, most of the time, aggrieved employees need private attorneys to prosecute their employment discrimination claims on their behalf in court.

Tyson Foods Agrees to Pay $2.25 Million in Discrimination Case

Tyson Foods has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit in a failure to hire gender discrimination lawsuit by paying $2.25 million in back wages, interest and other benefits to 1,650 female job applicants involving three comany facilities in Illinois, Nebraska, and Iowa.  The comany also agreed to offer employment to 220 of the female job applicants.  Tyson denied that it discriminated against the women.  Approximately 25% of the women who originally did not get jobs received employment offers from the company before the Department of Labor initiated action.

Wal-Mart Must Defend Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

A federal appeals court ruled that Wal-Mart must defend a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit in which the alleged negligence of the initial harassment complaints may have led to the retaliation claim.  According to the decision in the case of Jorge Perez-Cordero v. Wal-Mart Puerto Rico, Inc., the plaintiff had been employed at Wal-Mart's Sam's Club Store in Puerto Rico as a butcher since 1998.  In 2000, Madeline Santiago was assigned as a team leader and had some supervisory authority over him.  Early on, she began sharing details of her private life with him.  Perez-Cordero indicated that he was not interested in a romantic relationship.  According to the opinion, after that, his work conditions began to change.  For example, he was always scheduled to work the closing shift.  The plaintiff also alleged unwanted physical contact by his supervisor.  Perez-Cordero complained to managment, but they took no action.  The plaintiff claimed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the actions.  He filed suit in 2001 allegding violations of Title VII and Puerto Rican law.  While a lower court dismissed the claims, the federal appeals court overturned the decision, and allowed both employment claims to go forward.

EEOC Files 15 New Discrimination Lawsuits

In the last 10 days of August, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed 15 discrimination lawsuits targeting major companies including Ford Motor Co., Kohl's Department Stores, air transporter SITA Information Networking Computing USA, Inc., as well as the government of American Samoa, largely addressing disability discrimination. The agency recently finished regulations enforcing 2008 amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that broadened the definition of who is considered disabled. The amendments overturned several Supreme Court decisions that Congress believed interpreted the definition of 'disability' too narrowly, denying protection for people with impairments like cancer, diabetes or epilepsy. The Ford suit alleges the company refused work accommodations for an employee with irritable bowel syndrome and Kohl's allegedly denied a regular work schedule request from a diabetic employee.

Seventh Circuit Holds That Actionable Racial Discrimination Exists Even If All Not Targeted

On August 8, 2011, a unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that discrimination against some Hispanic employees violates fedreal anti-discrimination laws even if the company does not discriminate against others in the protected class.  The appeals court reversed a summary judgment ruling by the district court in favor of the employer.  Two plaintiffs were long time employees of Kraft Foods who lost their jobs in November, 2008, following an outsourcing.  The employer pointed to evidence demonstrating that another Hispanic employee did not lose his job.  In the opinion, Judge Diane Wood stated that "Title VII would have little force if an employer could defeat a claim of discrimination by treating a single member of the protected class in accordance with the law."  Our office routinely handles race discrimination claims and cases involving a hostile work environment.

NYU Settles Race Discrimination Lawsuit for $210,000

New York University agreed to settle a race discrimination lawsuit for $210,000.  The lawsuit was brought by an employee of the university who claimed that he was subjected to racial insults such as "monkey," "gorilla" and "do you want a banana?"  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, brought suit on behalf of the individual.  Our office routinely handles discrimination claims involving race, gender, disability and age.

Female Employee Sues Chicago White Sox for Sexual Discrimination

A woman who formerly worked for the Chicago White Sox filed a lawsuit alleging that the team and Major League Baseball discriminated against her when she was passed over for promotions because of her gender.  Deborah Theobald, the 33 year old woman, claimed that her work performance was outstanding, but nonetheless, she was passed over for upper management positions.  According to her suit, the woman claimed that when she applied for the job of manager of partnerships in 2004, a less qualified male was promoted.  The woman's lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  Ms. Theobald, in her suit, claimed that the White Sox and the MLB promoted "the glass ceiling and intentional sexual discriminatory policies and practices."  The plaintiff quit her job in June, 2010.

Supreme Court Tosses Class Action Case

On June 20, 2011, the nation's high court reversed a federal appeals court in a widely anticipated employment decision, Wal-Mart, Inc. v. Dukes.  In the decision, the Supreme Court overturned the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certifying a class of approximately 1.5 million women across the country.  The women sued Wal-Mart, the country's largest private employer, alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of pay, promotions and other employment practices.  Though the women lost class action status, they can still pursue their individual sexual discrimination claims individually. Speaking for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that class-action claims like these are doomed without "convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy."  The President of the National Employers Asssociation, NELA, stated that "Today's judgment will make discrimination more prevalent unless Congress acts to reverse yet another misguided opinion by the Court."  

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >