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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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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