Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Employment Case Law Update

Weber v Universities Research Assoc, Inc., 7thCir, No. 08-1957: The 7th Circuit offers up another lesson in having ideal comparators and affirmed summary judgement in favor of employer because none of the male comparators identified by a female engineer violated the employer’s policies against unauthorized outside employment and computer use to support it to the extent the employee did, the engineer failed to make a prima facie case of Title VII sex discrimination.

Runyon v Applied Extrusion Techs, Inc., 7thCir, No. 09-3015: 7th Circuit upholds summary judgement for employer on an age discrimination claim of a plant employee who was fired after several heated disputes with his coworkers because the plaintiff failed to produce evidence that the employer’s action was motivated by age. Interestingly enough, and as seen in other age discrimination cases where a difference between the older and younger employee is remorse, the Court relied, in part, upon letters written by the plaintiff and a younger employee involved to uphold summary judgement. Also harmful to the plaintiff was his history of bad behavior and run-ins with another coworker and he was replaced with a 44-year-old man, hired by the same person who fired him.

Prach v Hollywood Supermarket, Inc., EDMich, No. 09-13756: A Seventh Day Adventist who requested Saturdays off to observe the Sabbath stated a prima facie case of religious discrimination under Title VII, but the employer was entitled to summary judgment because it demonstrated that it could not reasonably accommodate the employee without undue hardship. The employer established that it could not reasonably accommodate the employee without incurring undue hardship, in that the employer would be forced to hire an additional worker, understaff the produce department, or require other employees to work Saturdays without regard to their preferences and in possible violation of a collective bargaining agreement with the employees’ union, resulting in more than a de minimus cost or discrimination against other employees on the basis of the employee’s religion.

Prise v Alderwoods Group, Inc., WDPa, No. 09-13756: An employee, who won at trial on her Title VII and state law claims that her former employer unlawfully suspended her in retaliation for having filed an EEOC charge, was not entitled to an injunction requiring the employer to cease and desist from future retaliation against other employees who engage in Title VII protected activity. The court first noted that there was an “overarching question” about whether the requested “do not violate the law” generic type of injunction could be issued. Because the employee no longer worked for the employer, such an injunction would be difficult to enforce since the employee lacked standing to enforce the rights of a third party. A request for sanctions or enforcement would need to be brought in the future by some unknown employee who would have standing.

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