Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Employment Case Law Update

--Hertz v Luzenac America, Inc., DColo, November 29, 2010: Employer's motion for summary judgment of former employee's Title VII retaliation claim DENIED. This case is very complicated and has involved a whole lot of litigation and a whole lot of motions. This motion involves the employer's attempt to get the former employee's claim that he was retaliated against by the Defendant when it “falsely accused him of stealing its trade secrets” and by filing “baseless counterclaims against him” dismissed. The court denied this motion because it held the alleged false accusations made by the Defendant in an email to constitute a "materially adverse action" under the prima facie case in their burden under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. However, the court did not find the employer's counterclaims to be a "materially adverse action."

--Woolsey v Klingspor Abrasives, Inc., NDTex, December 1, 2010: Court DENIES in part and GRANTS in part Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed age and sex discrimination claims under the ADA and Title VII and Texas state statutes and retaliation claims under those statutes as well. Plaintiff produced evidence of a remark (employer stated two older employees were no "spring chickens") that related to his age and showed that Defendant's reason for terminating him differed in several areas and at several times which allowed him to survive summary judgment on his age claim.

With respect to Plaintiff's sex discrimination claim, he failed to respond to Defendant's response and was deemed to have abandoned the claim. Likewise, Plaintiff's retaliation claim failed even though a clever attempt to use the expanded definition of "adverse employment action" under Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006) was implemented to suggest Defendant's filing of a declaratory judgment could be viewed as dissuading him from "asking his lawyer to write a letter to the former employer, raising allegations of age discrimination and retaliation, where the employer responds with an out-of-state lawsuit against that now unemployed worker." The court was unconvinced by this argument because Plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint a mere 12 days after the filing of the declaratory judgment.

Enochs Law Firm

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