Monday, January 10, 2011

Employment Case Law Update

--Ames v Home Depot USA, Inc., 7thCir.: an employee who was terminated for showing up to work under the influence of alcohol lost her Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims as the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld summary judgment. With respect to plaintiff's FMLA claim, the Court held that plaintiff failed to establish that she was entitled to leave under her burden to show FMLA interference when she missed work because of her alcohol problems because she could not show that her condition qualified as a serious health condition.
With respect to plaintiff's ADA claim, the Court held that the plaintiff failed to show that her alcoholism is an ADA disability because there is no evidence in the record that it substantially limited her major life activities.

--Walls v Miracorp, Inc., DKan: defendant's motion for summary judgment denied. Defendant employer unsuccessfully attempted to argue that they are not an "employer" under Title VII and that the plaintiff was not an "employee." In a nutshell, the defendant tried to argue that they did not have 15 or more employees to be liable under Title VII and in order to figure out the amount of employees the defendant had during the relevant time, the court used the payroll test. The Supreme Court has made clear that a name that appears on the payroll should not count toward the fifteen-employee threshold if that person is not an “employee” under traditional principles of agency law. Merely appearing on payroll does not count one toward an employer's employee count as the plaintiff attempted to argue. However, after applying the test, the court found the plaintiff presented enough evidence that the employer had 15 or more employers during the relevant time to proceed in her Title VII claim.

--Noble v Genco I, Inc., SDOhio: Defendant's motion to to dismiss granted in part, denied in part. Although a former employee’s claims for racial discrimination and retaliation in contravention of public policy were dismissed, the employee’s amended complaint alleging retaliation by the employer based on its allegedly providing negative job references was allowed to proceed. The defendant asserted that the retaliation claim should also be dismissed because the references given were not false but the court noted that the defendant pointed to no precedent within the jurisdiction adopting the false reference rule.

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