Second Circuit Finds Pregnant Corrections Officer Was Discriminated Against After Being Denied Light Duty

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Legg v. Ulster County, a pregnant corrections officer with a high risk pregnancy was denied light duty by her supervisors. The officer ended up suing the county, alleging she was denied light duty because she was pregnant. The Second Circuit agreed, and found the officer was entitled to take her case before a jury.

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Alabama District Court Finds Police Officer Did Not Experience Sexual Harassment After Police Chief Repeatedly Hits Him In Groin

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Pipes v. City of Falkville, a former Alabama police officer and chaplain alleged he was the victim of sexual harassment after the Police Chief hit his groin area on two occasions. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama disagreed and found there was no evidence this was done because of the officer’s sex.  The Court ruled that it was merely horseplay.

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D.C. K-9 Unit Police Officer Who Suffered Injury During Dog Training Exercise Can Pursue Her Claim of Retaliation

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Elmore v. Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, a former District of Columbia female K-9 unit police officer was found to have a triable retaliation claim after she was injured during a dog training exercise. The City argued that every officer was required to participate in the training but the District Court found that because the officer was injured and her supervisor continued to require the officer to participate, the officer could pursue her lawsuit.

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Female Deputy Sheriff in Oklahoma May Pursue Gender Discrimination Claim After Termination for Employment Application Deceit and Smoking Policy Violations

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Kopf v. Bd. Of County Comm’r of Cnty of Canadian, a female deputy sheriff for Canadian County, Oklahoma was discharged after she violated the department’s smoking policy and made false statements on her employment application. The female officer alleged other male deputy sheriffs had committed these same violations but were not terminated.  The female officer filed a gender discrimination claim against the County. The County filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the reasons for the officer’s termination were legitimate. An Oklahoma District Court disagreed, and found the officer had presented enough evidence to survive the County’s motion and pursue her claim in front of a jury.

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District Court in Georgia Dismisses Fire Medic’s Claim of Discrimination Related to Comments at Work, an Involuntary Transfer, and Alleged Constructive Discharge

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Cheatham v. DeKalb County, a federal district court granted summary judgment on a female fire medic’s claims that she had been discriminated against because men in her unit did not use the toilet properly and the station captain made a comment that “the only reason why a woman is in the fire service is to cook and do clerical work.” The court ruled that the fire medic had not suffered a materially adverse employment action because she was transferred and her transfer was a lateral one and she could not meet the high burden of establishing she was constructively discharged when she quit and got a better paying job.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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