CHICAGO - The en banc Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed "to take a fresh look" at bias on the basis of a person's sexual orientation and issued a divided opinion on April 4 in which the majority ruled that that type of discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, No. 15-1720, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5839).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 31 dismissed a lawsuit filed by a senior citizen who sought damages and an order preventing a property foreclosure, finding that her vague civil rights allegations did not support federal jurisdiction (Yvonne Roundtree v. Anthony Onwaunibe, et al., No. 16-4014, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48667).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 27 reinstated a gay employee's bias claim, finding that while it can't reconsider the ruling in Simonton v. Runyon, 232 F.3d 33 (2d Cir. 2000), which held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it does find that the employee plausibly alleges a gender-stereotyping claim cognizable under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) (Matthew Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Incorporated, et al., No. 16-748, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5278).
ATLANTA - Job discrimination based on an individual's gender nonconformity is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but discrimination based on sexual orientation is not, a divided 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 10 (Jameka K. Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, et al., No. 15-15234, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4301).
DETROIT - The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) on Feb. 17 issued a report in which it said the "disparate response" to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., was the result of "systemic racism that was built into the foundation and growth of Flint, its industry and the suburban area surrounding it" and said the state should establish a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" to deal with racial discrimination.
MIAMI - A former law enforcement officer's privacy claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and related civil rights claims were properly dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that the claims accrued on the date that the purported violations occurred (Shaun Foudy, et al. v. Indian River County Sheriff's Office, et al., No. 15-14646, 15-14659 and 15-15015, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 369)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a Florida corporation asking it to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that reversed a trial court's partial summary judgment ruling for the corporation on claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Division on behalf of a class of female prison workers who allege gender discrimination and harassment, finding that the two agencies sufficiently conciliated their claims (The Geo Group, Inc. v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., No. 16-302, U.S. Sup.; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 294).
SELMA, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Nov. 18 denied a Prudential Insurance Co. insured's motion to remand to state court an action alleging that the insured failed to pay any policy benefits, saying that his state law claims are completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which authorizes a plan participant or beneficiary to bring a civil suit "to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the plan" (Marion McIntosh v. Prudential Insurance Co., No. 16-0523, S.D. Ala.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159869).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Three users of Facebook Inc. filed a putative class action against the social networking giant in California federal court Nov. 3, alleging that its online advertising platform violates the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by permitting advertisers to prevent members of certain demographics from seeing ads related to housing or employment opportunities (Suzanne-Juliette Mobley, et al. v. Facebook Inc., et al., No. 5:16-cv-06440, N.D. Calif.).
CHICAGO - Failing to apply for a job with a replacement subcontractor does not doom retaliation claims filed against that employer by two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 19 (Shannon Volling, et al. v. Kurtz Paramedic Services, Inc., No. 15-3572, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18816).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a jewelry company seeking review of a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel's ruling that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, courts may review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted an investigation, not whether the investigation was sufficient (Sterling Jewelers, Inc. v. EEOC, No. 15-1329, U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 4580).
CHICAGO - Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it's presently written does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 28, noting that while the panel does not condone such discrimination, it cannot enforce something that does not exist (Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, South Bend, No. 15-1720, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13746).
NEW ORLEANS - A district court did not err when it ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may proceed with its claims alleging a "pattern or practice" of discrimination by an employer in its hiring practices under Sections 706 and 707 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 17, rejecting the employer's claim that such claims may be brought only for equitable relief and only under Section 707 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, L.L.C., et al., No. 15-20078, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11031).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on June 15 denied hotel franchisors' motion to dismiss a second amended complaint alleging that they subjected African-American employees to racially discriminatory and harassing treatment (Gwendolyn Miller, et al. v. Stickbay Inc., et al., No. 8:15-cv-2040, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77925).
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - An expert may not testify in a civil rights lawsuit that the use of deadly force by police officers "was excessive and was not objectively reasonable under the circumstances," a Tennessee federal judge ruled April 27 (Sterling Askew and Sylvia Askew v. City of Memphis, et al., No. 14-02080, W.D. Tenn.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55918).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 14 vacated a trial court's summary judgment dismissal of claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Division on behalf of a class of female prison workers who allege gender discrimination and harassment, finding that the two agencies sufficiently conciliated their claims (State of Arizona, et al. v. The Geo Group, Inc., et al., Nos. 13-16081 and 13-16292, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4646).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced March 1 that it has filed its first two gender discrimination suits based on sexual orientation, bringing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Scott Medical Health Center, P.C., No. 16-225, W.D. Pa.; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Pallet Companies d/b/a IFCO Systems NA, Inc., No. 16-595, D. Md.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York Court of Appeals on Feb. 11 affirmed a lower court's finding that each jail strip search of underlying class members is a separate and distinct occurrence subject to separate deductible payments, further affirming that the underlying attorney fees were properly allocated to the named plaintiff only (Selective Insurance Company of America, et al. v County of Rensselaer, No. 4, N.Y. App.; 2016 N.Y. LEXIS).
CHICAGO - A doctor may not testify in a civil rights lawsuit that a nurse knew the risks to a prison inmate from an untreated penetrating wound from a shotgun and failed to act in disregard of these risks, an Illinois federal magistrate judge held Jan. 19 (Raul C. Gomez v. Lanel Palmer, et al., No. 11-1793, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5687).
RICHMOND, Va. - A trial court erred when it found that gender-specific physical fitness requirements for FBI trainees violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the case of a male trainee who failed to graduate from the FBI Academy due to missing the physical test cut-off by one push-up, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 11 (Jay J. Bauer v. Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General, Department of Justice, No. 14-2323, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 379).
CHICAGO - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is incorrect in claiming that Section 707(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act allows it to sue an employer without engaging in conciliation or alleging that the employer engaged in discrimination, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 17, holding that the agency must comply with all presuit procedures contained in Title VII Section 706 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., No. 14-3653, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21963).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 7 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that insurers have no duty to defend their insured against underlying claims that it infringed on privacy rights in violation of the Song-Beverly Act of 1991, California Civil Code Section 1747.08(a)-(b) (Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-56249, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21185).