Thursday, October 21, 2010

Employment Case Law Update

--Smith v AirTran Airways, Inc., MDFla, October 12, 2010: In a case of "how on earth can you ever show pretext?", employer AirTran is granted summary judgment after submitting several outrageous acts of misconduct on part of the plaintiff, Kersaundra Smith, who alleged Title VII retaliation, hostile work environment based on her race and race discrimination generally. Smith had been terminated once before after several acts of misconduct and filed with the EEOC which issued a Right to Sue letter. AirTran then agreed to re-hire Smith--partially in response to her grieving the matter through her union--and was placed on a 24-month probationary period. Smith then had a no show and another customer complaint and AirTran still declined to terminate. However, what finally pushed AirTran over the edge was Smith placing her dog in a baby stroller in an attempt to avoid paying the pet travel charge and, once caught, claiming that the dog was her "Emotional Support Animal."

--Herbert v City of New York, SDNY, October 7, 2010: A school teacher who was demoted from her probationary position as an assistant principal survived Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on her pregnancy and gender discrimination claim, but not on her whistleblower claim.

--Wong v Brigham Young Univ., DUtah, October 13, 2010: An employee of Pacific Islander descent in a state that is predominately Caucasian (Utah), who was given a “Letter of Understanding” and then was discharged for tardiness and performance issues, failed to present sufficient evidence to proceed with his Title VII and Utah law claims of racial bias and hostile work environment after the employer successfully showed that that Caucasian employees received the same treatment when they violated the same policies. The Plaintiff also had a marked record of performance-related issues that was detrimental to his claims.

--Vasquez v Potomac Hosp., Inc, EDVa, October 8, 2010: A male security officer who had a history of work rule violations was unable to pursue his Title VII claims of race bias, hostile environment sexual harassment, and retaliation for initiating an internal complaint of harassment and filing a complaint with the EEOC. First, Plaintiff's race claim was dismissed because it wasn't alleged in the EEOC complaint which renders the Court without jurisdiction. Secondly, the sexual harassment claim had a last incident outside of the 300-day time period to file. Thirdly, Plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because the Court ruled that the Plaintiff did not engage in legally protected activity when he performed his duties in a manner that his supervisor found objectionable. Lastly, the Court also rejected his assertion that his employer retaliated against him by “terminating” him when it chose to accept his resignation as effective one week early. Acceptance of an employee’s resignation prior to the employee’s intended last day does not convert a resignation into a termination, held the court.

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