Seventh Circuit Finds that Juvenile Detention Employee Could Not Bring Race Discrimination Claim After Supervisor Threatens He Would “Take Them To The Woodshed”

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Carothers v. County of Cook, the Seventh Circuit found that a black employee at a juvenile detention center could not move forward with her Title VII race discrimination claim, despite evidence that her supervisor had told a group of employees he would “take them to the woodshed” and made a problematic comment about Malcom X. In her complaint, the employee alleged not only race discrimination, but also disability discrimination, gender discrimination, and retaliation. The Court found that because the statements were not made by the ultimate decision maker, the woodshed statement did not hold racial connotations, and the Malcom X comment was made three years prior, the County’s motion for summary judgment was appropriate.

[Read more…]

Eighth Circuit Finds St. Louis Police Officer Suffered Adverse Employment Action Despite Having No Change in Pay, Benefits, or Rank

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro. Police Dept., a white police officer applied for and was denied the position of Assistant Academy Director of the St. Louis, Missouri Police Academy, an African American woman was chosen instead. The police officer sued department officials alleging race discrimination and conspiracy to discriminate. A jury found in the officer’s favor on claims against three of his superiors regarding both claims. The department appealed the district court’s denial of their motion for a judgment as a matter of law.

[Read more…]

Michigan District Court Finds Police Officer Could Claim Retaliation and First Amendment Violations After Reporting Sexual Harassment

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Jennings v. Wayne County, a Michigan police officer was able to establish a claim for retaliation after she complained about sexual harassment. The district court found that being frozen out of meetings, not receiving backup, and being stripped of her Blackberry could constitute an adverse action. The district court also found the officer had established a First Amendment claim because her complaints about the harassment involved a matter of public concern.

[Read more…]

Pennsylvania District Court Finds Correctional Officer Who Violated Legitimate Rule Can Move Forward With Claim of Race Discrimination

credit-cardBy Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In McWilliams v. Cmty. Educ. Ctrs., Inc., an African American correctional officer was terminated for violating a fraternization policy after he helped an inmate deposit money into his prison account. The officer alleged the termination was racially discriminatory and that the prison had allowed a hostile work environment. The U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania found that the officer had established a disparate treatment claim by alleging his punishment was not comparable to white officers who had broken the same rule and the office had established a hostile work environment claim by alleging black officers were subjected to pictures of nooses.

[Read more…]

Arbitrator Finds No Evidence To Prove Discrimination Of Federal Bureau of Prisons, When No Officer Corroborates Events

behind-barsBy Jim Cline and Geoff Kiernan

In Federal Bureau of Prisons, an arbitrator ruled that a corrections officer could not sustain his claim that the Federal Bureau of Prisons discriminated against him for being Hispanic. This finding was largely because none of his co-workers corroborated his story and thus there was no evidence to substantiate his claim.

[Read more…]

Federal Appeals Court Holds that Resigning Alabama Corrections Officer Cannot Sue for Disability Discrimination if Provided an Opportunity to Appeal His Pending Termination


policyBy Mitchell Riese and Mathias M. Deeg

In Williams v. Alabama Dep’t. of Corrections, the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit determined that a Corrections Officer’s resignation could not be considered an adverse employment action on the part of his employer if he was provided with reasonable alternatives to resignation. The Court found the employer’s offer to hold a formal hearing at which the Officer could tell his side of the story to be a sufficient alternative to immediate resignation.

[Read more…]

Court Holds Alabama Fire Chief Who Raised Possibility of Discriminatory Motivation Covered by ADA Despite Direct Violations of Work Rules

fire putter outBy Mitchell Riese and Mathias M. Deeg

In Green v. Pike Rd. Volunteer Fire Protection Authority, the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama upheld a Fire Chief’s claim of disability discrimination despite the existence of non-discriminatory reasons for his termination. The Court found that the employer’s comments about the Fire Chief’s past drug and alcohol use cast enough doubt on the stated motivation for his termination to send the case to trial.

[Read more…]

Illinois Police Commander Unable to Perform the Essential Functions of Job Cannot Sue for Disability Discrimination

back injury

By Mitchell Riese and Mathias M. Deeg

In Briscoe v. Village of Vernon Hills, the U.S. district Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that that a former Police Commander that was unable to perform the essential functions of his job with or without reasonable accommodation by Vernon Hills could not prevail on a claim of disability discrimination. The court found that the Commander’s inability to work removed him from the protection of the ADA.

[Read more…]

Virginia District Court Finds FBI Special Agents Were Not Discriminated Against After Being Called “Princesses” and “Prima Donnas”

tiaraBy: Sarah Burke and Mitchell Riese

In Cowley v. Lynch, four FBI special agents alleged that the FBI had created a hostile work environment, discriminated against them based on their sex in denying them transfers, and had retaliated against them by reorganizing their department in order to break up their “clique.” The FBI argued that the restructuring and transfer denials were due to legitimate department needs and that a hostile work environment had not been established. The district court agreed with the FBI, finding that stray comments made around the agents did not rise to the level of hostile work environment and that the reasons for the restructuring and transfer were legitimate.

[Read more…]

U.S. District Court Denies Employer’s Motion to Dismiss Illinois Police Officer and Reserve Marine’s USERRA Retaliation Suit

marine dress lineBy: Jim Cline and Jordan L. Jones

In Bello v. Village. of Skokie, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois denied the employers motion to dismiss a police officer and reserve marine’s suit under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA. The court held that the officer had stated a valid claim of discrimination and retaliation under USERRA warranting a trial.

[Read more…]