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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Police Officer Makes Plausible Claim That City Retaliated After He Won A Reverse Discrimination Case

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

corrupt mayorIn Smith v. City of Inkster, a U.S. District Court determined that a police officer stated a plausible claim against the City of Inkster, Michigan, and its Mayor and allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial. In his lawsuit, the Officer claimed that the City retaliated against him by denying his application for disability benefits after he filed a lawsuit. After the City moved for a judgment against the Officer’s lawsuit before trial, the Court determined that the Officer had presented direct evidence supporting his claims and that he deserved to present his case at trial.

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Correctional Officer Fails to Find an Adequate Comparator to Support Racial Discrimination Claim

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Kasey Burton

Alabama_Department_of_CorrectionsIn Williams v. Ala. Dep’t of Corr., an Alabama District Court held that an African-American correctional officer failed to prove that he was terminated on the basis of race.  Even though the officer tried to show that the white officer was treated differently, the Court was not convinced the two officers were similarly situated.

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Deputy Sheriffs’ Retaliation Suit Claiming They Were Accused of Being Skinheads Dismissed

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Kasey Burton

false-reportsIn Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of retaliation complaints by white Deputy Sheriffs (located in the state of New York).  Even though the Deputies had set forth a prima facie case of retaliation, the Sheriff’s Department was able to demonstrate non-retaliatory reasons for its actions.  The Deputies were unable to rebut the Department’s non-retaliatory explanations with evidence of pretext.

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Police Officer with Disciplinary Record Able to Sue for Harassment based on National Origin

By Kasey Burton

discriminating outsiderIn Morshed v County of Lake, the Court held that years of slurs and constant denigration were enough to allow Police Officer Morshed to pursue a national origin harassment claim even though he lost no pay or benefits.

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Sergeant’s Inaction Found to be Sufficient to Make Prima Facie Harassment Claims against Him

By Oliver Enquist

two 3d humans look at human with megaphoneIn Ellis v. Houston, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of five African American corrections officers who brought claims against five of their supervisors for race based harassment and retaliation.  The appellate court ruled that the officers’ claims stated a cause of action and reversed a district court ruling that had dismissed all the allegations. [Read more…]

A Whiteout in Dallas Leads to a Police Lieutenant Unsuccessful Discrimination Claim against the City

By Anthony R

BlizzardIn Waters v. City of Dallas, the Fifth Ciruit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling dismissing a Dallas Police Lieutenant’s racial discrimination claim.

Marlon Waters, an African-American male, was employed as a lieutenant by the Dallas Police Department (DPD). Waters’ discrimination claim resulted from circumstances surrounding the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Over the course of the NBA All-Star event, a snow storm hit Dallas. Waters, one of the designated watch commanders for the event, reacted by allowing his subordinates to report to work early. However, because of budgetary constraints, DPD commanders (Watson included) were ordered to minimize overtime expenditures.

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Fifth Circuit Holds that Problem Dallas County Juvenile Officer Not Protected from Termination

By David Worley

TerminationIn Stokes v. Dallas County Juvenile Dep’t, 20, WH Cases 2d 327 (5th Cir. 2013) the Fifth Circuit Federal Court  of Appeals upheld summary judgment on retaliation claims under both Title VII and the FMLA when the plaintiff could indicate no connection between her termination and the activities protected by both those statutes. Further the employer provided substantial evidence supporting the termination of the plaintiff, including numerous instances of poor performance that resulted in discipline. Although the plaintiff could make a prima facie case regarding the FMLA claim (but not the Title VII claim), the court nevertheless found summary judgement was proper when no reasonable person could find that discrimination had occurred.  [Read more…]

St. Louis PD Orders to “Bring Color to the Academy” Results in a Trial-Worthy Section 1983 Conspiracy Claim by White Officer Passed Over for Academy Assistant Director Appointment

By Anthony Rice

Promotion timeIn Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Plaintiff David Bonenberger, who is white, claims that two lieutenants conspired to promote another candidate over him based on her race. On summary judgment, the court viewed the evidence in a light most favorable to Bonenberger and found that a jury could reasonably conclude two lieutenants conspired against him, and therefore concluded the case could go to trial.

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