Monday, April 25, 2011

Employment Case Law Update

--Chikuri v St. Vincent New Hope, Inc, SDInd: Defendant's motion to dismiss on plaintiff's Title VII religious discrimination claim GRANTED for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Interesting in this case is the fact the defendant pointed out the plaintiff's inconsistencies in her affidavit and complaint. Specifically, plaintiff's complaint states that she was “exploring becoming a Muslim.” However, plaintiff's affidavit states that her “[t]ransition to Muslim was quick” and that it was her “new found religion.” The Affidavit also provides, in the following paragraph, that she “started learning Muslin [sic] but that [her] excitement was cut short” because neither her friends or family would accept her new found religion.

Ultimately the court concluded that plaintiff failed to meet her burden under the prima facie case in a religious discrimination claim because her merely "exploring" a religion is not a bona fide religious practice. "Moreover, Plaintiff fails to allege a specific religious practice or belief held by her that was used as a basis for her termination. Instead, Plaintiff alleges that the patient’s religious practices of attending the Church of the Nazarene made Plaintiff uncomfortable. Title VII provides a cause of action where a plaintiff’s own religious beliefs lead to an adverse employment action, but not where another individual’s religious practices and beliefs merely make a plaintiff uncomfortable. See Kreilkamp v. Roundy’s, Inc., 428 F.Supp.2d 903, 908 (W.D. Wis. 2006) (“[A]n employee cannot redefine . . . [an] aversion as a religious belief” (citing Reed v. Great Lakes Cos., Inc., 330 F.3d 931 (7th Cir. 2003))."

--Renstrom v Nash Finch Co, DMinn: Defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII sex discrimination and Equal Pay Act Claims (EPA) GRANTED. To make out a prima facie case under the EPA, the plaintiff must show that her employer paid her less than a male employee for equal work in jobs that required equal skill, effort, and responsibility and that were performed under similar working conditions. Ultimately the Court held that the comparators used by the plaintiff failed because they did not work at the same location and did not perform equal work.

The Court engages in a lengthy discussion of whether the separate locations may be considered a single enterprise but ultimately concludes that under precedent and EEOC interpretation that this business setup does not allow for such a single enterprise label. And since plaintiff failed to meet her burden under the EPA, the Court also held that her Title VII and state claim must fail also.

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