Monday, October 25, 2010

Employment Case Law Update

--Cooper v Connecticut Dep’t of Corr., DConn, October 19, 2010: Employer, Connecticut Department of Corrections, is granted summary judgment after a former employee, Brian Cooper, a Jewish former Commissary Officer, fails in asserting that his being placed on administrsative leave amounts to an adverse employment action. Cooper was placed on leave after he complained about the extent of the punishment a coworker received for drawing a cartoon of him wearing a yarmulke, holding a fishing rod and placing a bag of ice on his back (Cooper had been out on worker's compensation). The coworker received a five-day without pay suspension.
The Court initially questioned whether the Plaintiff could prove 3 out of the 4 prongs neceessary in a Title VII retaliation claim but utimately held that he failed to assert an adverse action:
Applying the Joseph standard here, the Court concludes that the Department's decision to place Mr. Cooper on paid administrative leave pending an inquiry into his fitness to remain in his position was a reasonable enforcement of a preexisting disciplinary policy. Mr. Cooper's Collective Bargaining Unit Contract provided that the Department had the authority to place him on leave pending an investigation of any alleged action that, if verified, would constitute grounds for dismissal.
--Magnus v St. Mark United Methodist Church, NDIll, October 19, 2010: All of Plaintiff's claims but one are dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the FRCP. The Court found that the Plaintiff adequately satisfied the pleading standard for an ADA association claim.
As a side note, the Court notes the sloppy drafting of the Plaintiff's complaint with respect to numbering. Proofread your work, lawyers!

--Robinson v Farmers Servs, LLC, DKan, October 14, 2010: Plaintiff's FMLA interference and retaliation claims lose to summary judgment because the Plaintiff admitted in her complaint to obtain medical certification despite the employer's request. The Court noted, "An employer must provide a reasonable opportunity for the employee to cure a deficiency in certification before terminating the employee." The Plaintiff's failure to cure the certification documentation likewise killed her retaliation claim.

--Hamovitz v Santa Barbara Applied Research, Inc., WDPa, October 19, 2010: In an issue of first impression out of Pennsylvania, a Court there held that, along with his USERRA claim, an employee may pursue a common-law tort claim for wrongful refusal to hire. Therefore, because his USERRA remedies were not exclusive, the plaintiff could seek punitive damages. Note that the Court formerly held that punitive damages were not available to the plaintiff under USERRA.

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