Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Employment Case Law Update

Not a good week for plaintiffs:

--Michaels v Continental Reality Corp, DMd, Civil Action No. RDB-10-1998:  Defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's ADA claim GRANTED.  Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim was based on the fact he was obese, weighing in over 400lbs.  However, plaintiff unerwent a surgical procedure that lowered his weight by 100lbs which then allegedly resulted in mental and physical problems which required accommodations from the employer though it was never quite made clear by the plaintiff to the employer that his requests were related to any qualifying disability.  Plaintiff was later presented with resignation paperwork that he did not sign, was deemed a resignation and then filed a charge with the EEOC alleging disability discrimination.
In dismissing the plaintiff's claim, the court noted that "...simply being overweight or obese has generally not been viewed as constituting a disability."  They do note, however, that according to the EEOC, in rare circumstances it "may" rise to the level of "disability impairment."  Despite the fact the plaintiff alleged that it was "plainly visible" and "transparent" that he was obese still did not put the employer on notice that he had a qualifying disability under the ADA as the court noted the plaintiff was able to perform his job duties and responsibilities.
This case also emphasizes the need to plead employment discrimination cases with particularity in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Twombly as many of the plaintiff's claims were dismissed for failure to plead a prima facie case of discrimination, retaliation, etc.

--Warren v The Shaw Group, Inc, DNev, Case No.: 2:10-cv-01116-GMN-GWF: Defendants' (the employer and union involved) motions for summary judgment GRANTED on plaintiff's religious discrimination claim.  Plaintiff filed a religious discrimination claim under Title VII after refusing to provide his social security number to drug-testing personnel.  So what was the plaintiff's bona fide religious belief?  Plaintiff claimed to hold a religious belief that social security numbers are the “sign of the beast” as described in the last book of the Bible, Revelation.  However, plaintiff would give his SSN out for employment and tax purposes, which is what allowed the defendant to argue that the plaintiff had an inconsistent use of his SSN, therefore, he did not have a bona fide religious belief.  The court agreed.  However, even if he did have a bona fide religious belief regarding the use of his SSN, plaintiff also failed under the second prong of his burden because he also could not show that he informed anyone of this belief.  Thus, it was only through plaintiff's lawsuit that the defendants learned of this "religious belief."

--Veliz v Collins Bldg Svs, Inc, SDNY, Case No. 10 Civ. 06615 (RJH):  Defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's Title VII and ADEA claims of national origin and age bias and reprisal because his claims were subject to mandatory arbitration under the applicable collective bargaining agreement.  The court also dismissed the employee’s Title VII and ADEA claims against several individual defendants because individuals cannot be held liable under either statute.

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