BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 upheld findings by a Massachusetts federal judge that a disgruntled civil litigant conveyed a nonexclusive license to the "Ripoff Report" website when he clicked a box acknowledging that a user who posts on the site agrees to give the site's owner an "irrevocable right" to display the posting (Small Justice LLC, et al. v. Xcentric Ventures LLC, Nos. 15-1506, 16-1085, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19866).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum on Oct. 4, withdrawing a December 2014 memorandum that the then-Attorney General Eric Holder had issued, which opined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses gender identity per se.
CINCINNATI - U.S. Steel Corp. can't be held vicariously liable for alleged sexual harassment by one male worker toward another male worker because the alleged harasser was not a "supervisor" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and because it responded appropriately when it was notified of the alleged harassment, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 3 (David Hylko, Jr. v. John Hemphill, et al., No. 16-2414, 6th Cir.).
CHICAGO - A plaintiff must show that a proposed class satisfies the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, but does not need to do so "to a degree of absolute certainty," an Illinois federal judge ruled Sept. 28, quoting from Messner v. Northshore Univ. HealthSystem, 669 F.3d 802, 811 (7th Cir. 2012), in his opinion granting class certification to individuals who were arrested by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and are now suing, alleging that their due process rights were violated when their personal property was seized and sold or destroyed (Blake Conyers, et al. v. City of Chicago, No. 12-6144, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159666).
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 29 affirmed a Minnesota federal judge's decision that a trades service association has a right to collect fringe benefit contributions due under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), saying that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits a fiduciary of a plan, like the association, to bring a civil action to enforce the obligation arising under a plan or a collectively bargained agreement (Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc. v. Wenner Quality Services, Inc., No. 16-1791, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16468).
SEATTLE - An employee of the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) who claims that she was raped by a co-worker may proceed to trial with her Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 hostile work environment claim, a split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 31, partially reversing a trial court's grant of summary judgment to the IDOC (Cynthia Fuller v. Idaho Department of Corrections, et al., No. 14-36110, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13862).
NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Justice on July 26 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of the United States stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect from discrimination based on sexual orientation (Melissa Zarda, co-independent executor of the estate of Donald Zarda, et al. v. Altitude Express, doing business as Skydive Long Island, et al., No. 15-3775, 2nd Cir.).
DETROIT - The Michigan Court of Appeals on July 11 determined that a municipal liability insurer has no duty to defend a police officer against an underlying federal civil rights lawsuit arising from the disappearance and death of the police officer's cousin, reversing a lower court (Timothy Matouk v Michigan Municipal League Liability & Property Pool, No. 332482, Mich. App., 2017 Mich. App. LEXIS 1106).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who claims that J.P. Morgan Chase Co. (JPMC) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Ohio Fair Employment Practices Act by denying his request for parental leave on the ground that only women can be primary caregivers for children on June 14 filed a charge asking the Ohio Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate his allegations on a classwide basis.
CHICAGO - A woman suing Chicago police after being wrongly convicted of murdering her young son can present expert testimony that police erred in giving her a lie detector test during a lengthy interrogation and that her responses to the test were truthful, despite the police labeling the test results as "inconclusive," an Illinois federal judge ruled May 31 (Nicole Harris v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 14-4391, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82698).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court on May 26 found that neither an insurer nor its insureds have a unilateral right to specify the format of discovery under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 196.4, Texas R. Civ. P. 196.4, denying the insurer's request for mandamus relief without prejudice in a dispute over the discovery submission form for electronically stored information (ESI) (In re State Farm Lloyds, Nos. 15-0903 and 15-0905, Texas Sup., 2017 Tex. LEXIS 482).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 5 affirmed rulings, including determinations on expert witnesses, during a trial in which a jury acquitted Florida police officers of civil rights violations in the shooting death of a man and wounding of a woman in the man's car (Michael Knight, et al. v. Miami-Dade County, et al., No. 15-10687, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8036).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on May 2 refused to certify a class of disabled persons suing a retailer with stores in numerous states for failing to make the stores fully accessible to individuals who required mobility devices, finding that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the class meets all the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (Equal Rights Center, et al. v. Kohl's Corporation, et al., No. 14-8259, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66390).
NEW ORLEANS - A divided Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a 7-7 vote on April 28 denied a petition for rehearing en banc in an appeal by Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC and Tracker Marine Retail LLC (collectively, Bass Pro) that the court notes is one of "first impression" in that circuit, concerning whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can bring a "pattern or practice" case under Sections 706 and 707 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 asserting the violation of the rights of 50,000 job applicants (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, L.L.C., et al., No. 15-20078, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7628).
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).