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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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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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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Inexplicable Flip-Flop: Park Ranger Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Charges Proper for Trial when Female Supervisor Decided to Fire Her Two Weeks after Her Sexual Harassment Complaint against Male Supervisor

By Mitchell Riese and Mitchel Wilson

flipIn Vicino v. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland denied the defendant employer’s motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff park ranger had sufficiently alleged sexual discrimination. The Court determined that material facts for a jury existed and that summary judgment was improper.

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Court Dismisses Female Police Officer’s Sex-Based Discrimination Lawsuit Against Florida Police Department For Failing To Provide A Suitable Female Changing Room

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

Sexual-Harassment-DefenseIn Melendez v. Town of Bay Harbor Islands, a U.S. District Court dismissed a female police officer’s lawsuit for sex-based discrimination against the Police Department of Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. The Officer brought the lawsuit claiming that the Police Department engaged in sex-based discrimination by failing to provide suitable changing areas for female employees. In a summary judgment proceeding, the Court explained that the Officer failed to allege facts sufficient to show that any actions taken by the Police Department were motivated by sex-based discrimination. Although the Officer failed on her sex-based discrimination claim, the Court explained that the Police Department might still be liable for creating a hostile work environment towards women.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects San Francisco County’s BFOQ Defense for Policy Excluding Male Corrections Officers from Supervising Female Inmates

By Erica Shelley Nelson

prison (1)In Anderson v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit reversed the granting of summary judgment to the San Francisco County on claims of sex discrimination, in its jail staffing policies. The court held that the County was unable to meet its burden in demonstrating that it was entitled to a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) defense for a policy that excluded male corrections deputies from supervising female inmates.

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Demotion of North Carolina Female Detention Officer for Violation of Unwritten Policy Forbidding Presence of Opposite Sex While Inmates Shower

By Kasey Burton

Unwritten-Rules-HeaderIn Gethers v. Harrison, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina held that a sheriff’s office did not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of gender when it demoted a female detention officer. The female officer refused to leave the bathroom area while a male inmate was showering. Two other male officers were present, and the inmate was no longer agitated or presenting any sort of threat.  Consequently, the female officer’s presence was determined unnecessary and inappropriate.  During the course of the investigation following the demotion, the Sheriff concluded that Gethers was not truthful and subsequently terminated her on that basis.

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Four Times is Not a Charm: Despite Four Multiple Complaints, Cook County Corrections Sergeant’s Gender Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment Claims Not Trial Worthy

By Mitchel Wilson

ComplaintIn Mercer v. Cook County, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, (in an unpublished opinion) upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss Corrections Sergeant Pamela Mercer’s claims of Gender Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment.  It agreed with the lower court because Mercer could not show the conduct directed at her was because of gender and her transfer was not an adverse employer action and the incidents cited were not severe/pervasive enough to alter the Officer’s working conditions. [Read more…]