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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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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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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Court Bailiff Sues City for Failing to Accommodate a Shoulder Injury that Allegedly Prevented Him from Firearm Qualification

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

disability issuesIn Michael v. City of Troy Police Dep’t, a U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit for disability discrimination brought by a former police officer against the City of Troy, Michigan. In his lawsuit, the Officer claimed that the police department wrongly believed he was disabled and then placed him on unpaid leave based on that belief. He also claimed that the City failed to provide any reasonable accommodations for what it perceived to be a disability before placing him on leave. The Court determined that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the Officer was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation and, even if he was, the City had legitimate reasons for denying those accommodations to the Officer.

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Former New York Correctional Officer Can Bring Disability Discrimination Claim to Trial

By Reba Weiss and Brennen Johnson

Disability-Discrimination-120x120In Sherman v. County of Suffolk, a U.S. District Court determined that a former correctional officer presented legitimate allegations that the County of Suffolk, New York, discriminated against him based on his disability. In his lawsuit, the former officer alleged that the County discriminated against him based on a leg injury he sustained during training as a recruit. The County then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was no evidence to prove that discrimination was the reason that the former officer lost his job. Although the County convinced the Court that no medical evidence could support an inference that the Officer actually suffered from a disability, the Court concluded that reliable evidence suggested that the County still perceived him as disabled and fired him because of that perception.

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Idaho Department of Corrections Found Not Liable for Sexual Assault Occurring Outside the Workplace

Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

factsIn Fuller v. Idaho Department of Corrections, a U.S. District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC), finding that it did not violate the rights of a former corrections officer. The female officer sued the IDOC, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. Although the officer was assaulted and raped by a coworker, the IDOC was not liable when the assaults arose from the employees’ relationship outside the workplace and, upon learning of the incidents, the IDOC immediately began investigating the coworker, barred him from the premises, and ultimately recommended his termination.

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