D.C. Corrections Officer’s Diabetes Was Not A Disability Under The ADA Because It Was Not “Substantially Limiting”

By Reba Weiss and Harrison Owens

yes or noIn Coleman-Lee v. Government of the District of Columbia, a U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a D.C. District Court’s dismissal of a correctional officer’s lawsuit for disability discrimination.  In his complaint, the correctional officer argued that he was discriminated against when he was terminated for falling asleep on the job, which he claimed was caused by his diabetes.  The jury found that the officer was not disabled within the ADA’s definition, as he did not show that he could not have controlled his diabetes.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the jury’s decision, as his case was not appealed correctly.

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Michigan African-American Officer’s Racial Discrimination Claim Barred After He Was Terminated For Fraudulently Issuing Traffic Ticket

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Harrison Owens

RacialDiscriminationPaperDollsIn Burns v. City of Saginaw, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Michigan District Court’s dismissal of an African-American police officer’s claim for retaliation against his employer after he was terminated for issuing a fraudulent ticket.  In his complaint, the officer claimed that he had been terminated in retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC, and that the police chief of his Department, who is white, used a racial slur against him in relation to his EEOC complaint.  The Court dismissed his claim on summary judgment on the grounds that the officer’s EEOC complaint was actually filed following the citizen complaint relating to the fraudulent ticket, a white officer had similarly been terminated for filing a false accident report, and the police chief’s alleged racial slur was hearsay.

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Worker Cannot Bring Lawsuit Against County Because Waited Too Long to File Complaint

By Reba Weiss and Harrison Owens

snoozeIn Kuehn v. Snohomish County, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a Road Maintenance worker’s claims against the County for wrongful termination and disability discrimination in violation of Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and Family Leave Act (WFLA).  In his suit, the worker claimed that the County wrongfully terminated him for repeated tardiness allegedly caused by a sleeping disorder, and wrongfully decided to discontinue accommodating his disability.  The trial court found that the worker waited too long to file his lawsuit, and granted the County’s motion for summary judgment.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, holding that the legal time-limit to file the worker’s lawsuit began its countdown from the moment he received notice of his impending termination from his employer.

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Arbitrator Reverses Florida Firefighter’s Discharge for Off-Duty Drug Use, Persuaded by His Difficult Personal Circumstances

By Jim Cline and Jordan Jones

pot fireIn City of Oakland Park, the arbitrator held that there was not just cause to discharge a Florida firefighter for using marijuana while off-duty. The arbitrator cited the firefighter’s excellent work history and other mitigating circumstances.

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Maryland Volunteer Firefighter Can Sue Fire Department For Retaliation

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

maryland_firefighter_badgeIn Williams v. Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, the U.S. District Court in Maryland denied a Fire Department’s motion for summary judgment against a volunteer firefighter claiming that the Department retaliated against her for engaging in protected speech. Specifically, the volunteer firefighter alleged that one of her supervisors publicly berated her for filing a sexual harassment charge against him with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and that this public humiliation violated Title VII. Although the Department argued that the volunteer firefighter did not suffer any “adverse employment actions” within the meaning of Title VII, the Court determined that the public shaming was sufficient to constitute an adverse action because it might dissuade an employee from exercising her Title VII rights.

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Corrections Officer Could Bring Claim For Violation Of ADA When Wrongfully Demoted Because Of His Disability

By Reba Weiss & Harrison Owens

demotion 2In Allen v. Baltimore County, a Maryland District Court allowed a corrections officer to continue with his claim for disability discrimination under the ADA against his employer.  In his complaint, the officer claimed that his employer had caused him to sign a demotion agreement and terminated him because he suffered from an inflammatory disease.  The District Court found that the officer could have performed his job if his employer had accommodated his disability, such as by allowing him time to take his medication or giving him light duty.

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Alabama Sheriff’s Office Defeats Lawsuit for Hostile Work Environment by Promptly Responding to Harassment Complaints

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

speak upIn Swindle v. Jefferson County Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit determined that a female former employee of Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (in Alabama) failed to establish a claim for hostile work environment sexual harassment. The employee sued the County after numerous incidents of alleged sexual harassment. However, the Court determined that the employee failed to establish her claim for a hostile work environment because the County showed that it had exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct harassing behavior and the employee allowed too much time to pass before bringing her claim.

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Police Chief May Be Personally Liable for Arresting a Subordinate Officer in Retaliation for His Politics

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

schemingIn Williams v. City of Alexander, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirmed a decision to deny qualified immunity to an Arkansas Police Chief who allegedly had a subordinate officer arrested in retaliation for supporting the City’s mayor. Although qualified immunity usually protects public officials from personal liability for actions carried out in their official roles, the Court determined that the Chief could not assert qualified immunity for withholding exculpatory information in an arrest warrant of an officer as a means of retaliating against the officer’s political alignment.

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Florida Female Firefighter Prevails in Lawsuit Against City for Gender-Based Discrimination

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

no-girls-allowed2In Smith v. City of New Smyrna Beach, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a jury decision awarding a former female firefighter a total of $444,000 in damages for the gender-based discrimination she suffered from the city of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The female firefighter sued the City for creating a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminating her. At trial, the jury agreed with all of her claims, resulting in the substantial award. Although the City appealed the verdict, the Court of Appeals affirmed the results of the trial, including the substantial monetary award and the female’s reinstatement as a firefighter.

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Qualified Immunity Protects Connecticut Police Chief from Claim that His Actions Created A Hostile Work Environment for Women

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

see hear speak 2In Raspardo v. Carlone, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that qualified immunity protected a Connecticut police chief from claims that his actions and supervision of the city police department created a hostile work environment for women. Three female police officers, two former and one current, sued their police chief, claiming that he failed to properly supervise or investigate the conduct of subordinate police officers who allegedly sexually harassed them. The Court held that qualified immunity protected the police chief from the claim because the female officers could not show that his own actions were sufficient to create a hostile work environment nor that he was grossly negligent in supervising his subordinate officers.

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