Should Employers Be Liable for Conduct They Cannot Control? Fired for Tweeting about Third-Party Misconduct

While attending a conference, Adria Richards became offended by two attendees sitting behind telling inappropriate jokes. So, she tweeted her grievance. Then, she blogged about it. Then, her employer fired her. Ars technica has the full details. If the people about whom Ms. Richards complained were...

$3.5 Million Federal Jury Award in Whistleblower Wrongful Termination Case

At first blush, implementing an employee hotline and following-up on complaints might seem a simple endeavor. The recent $3.5 million federal jury award to an employee terminated after he reported illegal conduct by a supervisor demonstrates that employers must not only have a reporting mechanism...

Obama’s Budget Plan: Protect IRS Whistleblowers from Retaliation

President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2014 includes good news for whistleblowers: Under his plan, the law finally would protect people who report tax cheats to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Although the IRS Whistleblower Program has existed since 2006 - encouraging and rewarding...

Whistleblowing Rutgers Style

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Rutgers' termination of basketball coach Mike Rice are reports , like the New York Times story, that the FBI is investigating the former assistant who released the video of the conduct that led to Rice's firing. The inquiry centers around a letter...

U.S. High Court Hears Arguments on Proof of Title VII Retaliation Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) A Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 retaliation claim must prove but-for causation, the attorney representing the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) argued before the U.S. Supreme Court April 24. ( University of Texas Southwestern Medical...

Split U.S. High Court Finds Higher Standard for Title VII Retaliation Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) Retaliation claims filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must prove but-for causation, a split U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 24, rejecting the lessened causation test outlined in 42 U.S. Code Section 2000e-2(m) [ an annotated version of this statute...

Take This Job and Shove It: Discrimination Complaint Does Not Shield Employee from Firing

Over the weekend, I read this opinion from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. From the opening paragraph, it had my attention. After working at A.B. Data for four months, Michael Benes charged the firm with sex discrimination. The EEOC arranged for mediation in which, after an initial joint session...

VanDeusen on Univ. of Texas Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar: Supreme Court Holds "But-For" Standard Applies in Title VII Retaliation Cases

In perhaps the biggest employment case this term, the Supreme Court has held that a "but-for" standard – not the "mixed motive" analysis applies to retaliation claims under Title VII. In Univ. of Texas Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar , the court resolved the Circuit split that developed...

Separation of Protected Activity and Discipline Can Protect Employers From Retaliation Claims

Can an employee succeed on a retaliation claim if the decision maker did not know about the alleged protected activity at the time the employer decided to terminate? The answer, according to McElroy v. Sands Casino (E.D. Pa. 1/9/14) , is no [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis...

EEOC Claims Retaliation Over Garden-Variety Severance Terms

The EEOC announced that it has filed a lawsuit against CVS, claiming that a severance agreement it provided to three employees unlawfully restricted their rights to file discrimination charges or communicate and cooperate with the EEOC. The EEOC claims that “CVS conditioned the receipt of severance...

Bad Things Happen When Management Fires HR Personnel Who Protests Racist Hiring Practices

Just a reminder that some managers still engage in really stupid behavior. I was reading this case about an HR Manager of a dentistry practice [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers ]. Following an interview between a dentist in her practice and an African-American...

Third Circuit Provides "Temporal Proximity" Retaliation Analysis

The Third Circuit recently released a non-precedential Title VII (and PHRA and 1981) retaliation opinion in Blakney v. City of Philadelphia [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers ]. The Court provided a succinct rundown of temporal proximity precedent involving two...

Hold the Whistle: The Status of the Contract Employee Without a Contract

In Wurtz v. Beecher Metropolitan District, 2014 Mich. LEXIS 643 [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers ], the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, holding that the failure to renew the contract for a fixed term employee satisfies the Michigan's...

WV’s High Court Upholds State Public Policy Violation For Fired Employee Who Refused to Retaliate Against a Co-Worker Who Filed His Own Discrimination Claim

by Julie Arbore As West Virginia employers are undoubtedly aware, there is a cause of action in the state commonly known as a “ Harless claim” for wrongful discharge when an employee can show that his or her discharge contravenes some substantial public policy of the State of West Virginia...

SCOTUS on Public Employee Free Speech

We're coming down the home stretch of another SCOTUS season. We still have a few labor and employment law cases left ( Noel Canning and Harris v. Quinn ) - we should have decisions in the next week or two. Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lane v. Franks [ enhanced opinion available...

Supreme Court Clarifies Scope of First Amendment Protections For Public Employees

In Lane v. Franks et al ., the Supreme Court unanimously held today that when a public employee testifies truthfully outside of the scope of ordinary job duties, he or she testifies as a private citizen and not as a public employee for purposes of First Amendment protections [lexis.com subscribers may...

More Time for Michigan Whistleblowers?

Under Michigan's Whistleblowers' Protection Act, a claim must be brought within 90 days of the occurrence. This is a comparatively short limitations period. Recently, however, the NLRB and OSHA entered into a memorandum of understanding(OM 14-60, 5/21/14) that provides that persons with a claim...

When Retaliation Stands the Test of Time

Often when we consider the issue of temporal proximity in a retaliation case , we examine it from the standpoint of whether temporal proximity is sufficient to infer retaliatory intent when the adverse action happens right on the heels of the protected activity. What happens, however, if the converse...

Final Score: HIPAA 1 - Retaliation 0

See how a federal appellate court shut out a plaintiff's claims of retaliation after she was fired for forwarding confidential documents to herself, purportedly to preserve evidence for an age-discrimination lawsuit filed by a former coworker. What I did there, you see that? In New Jersey,...

Federal Judge Dismisses EEOC Severance Agreement Lawsuit Against CVS

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that U.S. District Judge John Darrah has granted CVS’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by EEOC, which challenged the company’s severance agreements as overly broad and retaliatory. Recall that the lawsuit challenged several garden-variety terms in standard...

A Whistleblower's Odyssey in Michigan

Bruce Whitman was the police chief for the city of Burton. His odyssey began in 2007 when he was not reappointed as the police chief in November of 2007. He filed suit under Michigan's Whistleblowers Protection Act alleging that he engaged in protected conduct in 2004 for opposing an ordinance where...

EEOC 0-2 on Severance-Agreement Lawsuits … But Does It Matter?

Recall that in October, a Chicago federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the EEOC against CVS, claiming that the pharmacy retailer’s severance agreements violated Title VII by employing allegedly retaliatory language. That court, however, failed to reach the merits of the case, instead dismissing...

You’ve Gotta Be Kidding. THIS Is Retaliation?

Guess what? You know those SEC disclosures about pending litigation that publicly held companies are required by law to make ? Well, if an employer says too much, it may be “retaliating” against the litigants. I am not making this up. International Monetary Systems, Ltd., is facing a jury...

Why Retaliation Claims Should Keep You Up at Night

In early 2009, Aker Plant Services terminated the employment of Tommy Sharp as part of workforce reduction. When Sharp asked his supervisor why the company chose him, as opposed to his less experienced, less senior co-workers, the supervisor replied that the company decided to keep younger employees...

Federal Appeals Court Rejects “Retaliatory Rehiring” Claim

As part of massive reorganization, Allstate severed the employment of approximately 6,200 employee agent. In connection with the layoff, Allstate offered all of the employee agents the opportunity to convert their employment status into that of an independent contractor selling Allstate insurance products...