Court Upholds $300,000 Award To Officer For Transfer

Byron Hickey, a police officer employed by the Columbus Consolidated Government in Georgia, sued the City, claiming he was retaliated against for opposing unlawful discrimination. When a jury awarded Hickey $306,969, the City asked the trial court to overturn the award on the grounds that inadequate evidence supported Hickey’s claims. The Court rejected the City’s arguments. The key issue was whether Hickey’s transfer from the Vice to the Burglary…

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Male Officer Not Entitled To Maternity Leave

Ronald Wahl is a police officer for the Suffolk County, New York Police Department. Wahl’s child was born on December 20, 1999, and on January 14, 2000, Wahl requested that he be permitted to take maternity leave and deduct the days taken from his accrued sick leave. Department rules and procedures and the applicable collective bargaining agreement permitted a pregnant female officer to take nine months of leave after…

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Court Upholds $300,000 Award To Officer For Transfer

Byron Hickey, a police officer employed by the Columbus Consolidated Government in Georgia, sued the City, claiming he was retaliated against for opposing unlawful discrimination. When a jury awarded Hickey $306,969, the City asked the trial court to overturn the award on the grounds that inadequate evidence supported Hickey’s claims. The Court rejected the City’s arguments. The key issue was whether Hickey’s transfer from the Vice to the Burglary…

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Calling Officer A ‘Pain’ Not Gender Or Race Discrimination

Sharon Davis, an African-American, was employed as a police officer with the Newark, New Jersey Police Department. Davis filed a seven-count lawsuit against the City, alleging that she was retaliated against for raising issues of racial and gender discrimination. The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all of Davis’s claims. The Court held that, “even accepting Davis’s allegations, she has failed to claim that she was retaliated against…

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Chicago Firefighter Hiring Practices Discrimination Case Comes To End

In 1995, the City of Chicago gave a written examination for positions in its Fire Department. Applicants who scored 89 and up were rated highly qualified, while those who scored 64 and below were rated not qualified. Those in between were rated qualified but were told in January 1996 that they were unlikely to be hired. From May 1996 through November 2001, the City hired 11 groups of applicants…

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Reprimand, Transfer Not ‘Adverse Action’ Triggering Discrimination Law

To be successful, an employee bringing a discrimination complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act must show that he or she suffered an “adverse employment action” as a result of the discrimination. Not every disciplinary action amounts to an “adverse employment action,” as Officer Christopher Wade of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department recently learned. Wade asserted that he was the victim of retaliation because of…

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Battalion Chief Loses Restroom-Based Sex Discrimination Claim

There is a long history of litigation between Kathleen Kline and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. From 1977 to 2006, Kline worked for the City’s Fire Department. At the time she resigned in 2006, Kline had been promoted several times to reach the position of battalion chief (only the fire chief and deputy chiefs are higher in the chain of command). In 1994, Kline filed a Title VII…

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‘Disparate Treatment’ Requires Comparably-Situated Employees

Tomorrow Bush, an African-American corrections officer for Houston County, Alabama, sued the County for race and gender discrimination when she was fired for violating the jail’s use-of-force policy by unjustifiably pepper-spraying an inmate. At the heart of Bush’s discrimination claim was the contention that the County had treated similarly-situated white male employees more leniently. In dismissing Bush’s lawsuit, the federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee…

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New ADAAA Regs: The Untold Story

As most people in the Human Resources and employment law worlds are aware, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued its final rule interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The ADAAA, which took effect in January 2009, was enacted toward the end of the administration of George W. Bush, with the support of disability rights advocates as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and…

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Employer’s E-Mail Policy Discriminates On Basis Of Union Activity

The City of Saginaw, Michigan Police Department permits its employees to use the City’s e-mail system for non-work-related purposes. Daniel Kuhn is the president of the Saginaw local of the Police Officers Association of Michigan. On October 16, 2008, Kuhn used the City’s e-mail system to send his members a message about the City’s deferred compensation system. In the e-mail, Kuhn wrote the following about the general status of…

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Supreme Court Holds That Company May Be Liable For The Discriminatory Motives Of Non-Decision Makers

On March 1, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employer may be liable for the discriminatory motives of a supervisor who influences but does not make the ultimate employment decision. The Court’s ruling will impact employment discrimination claims where multiple individuals are claimed to have made, caused, or influenced the ultimate employment decision. The Cat’s Paw Theory Of Liability In employment discrimination claims, plaintiffs must establish that…

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The Supreme Court And The Scope Of Title VII’s Anti-Discrimination Clause

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has a broad anti-discrimination clause. 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a) provides that it “shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees…because he has made a charge” under Title VII. Title VII permits “a person claiming to be aggrieved” to file a charge with the EEOC alleging that the employer committed an unlawful employment practice, and,…

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Fire Department Has Right To Rely On Own Color Vision Test

When Cory James applied to be a firefighter for the City of Los Angeles, he received an offer of employment contingent on passing a City-administered medical examination. When the examination revealed that James had inadequate color vision, the City withdrew its offer. James then sued the City, claiming he was the victim of illegal discrimination. The California Court of Appeals upheld the City’s decision. James argued that because he…

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Officer Wins Lawsuit and $600K, Loses Claim For Reinstatement

Darren Nance was terminated as a Newark, New Jersey police officer on September 3, 1996 and has not served as a police officer in the past 14 years. On June 24, 2010, a jury found that Nance’s termination was in retaliation for invoking his right to petition the government under the First Amendment and that Nance was subject to retaliation in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Subsequently,…

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Individual Must Be Employee For Union Interference Statute To Apply

A Florida statute makes it an unfair labor practice for a public employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce a “public employee” who is engaged in union activity. The Florida Court of Appeals, reversing a decision of Florida’s Public Employment Relations Board, found that an employer’s refusal to hire an applicant could not be covered by the statute. The case involved Jeffrey Stanley, who worked for the Broward County…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Award Requiring Disciplinary Retraining Of Sheriff, Aides

Jan Bartleson became a Yakima County, Washington sheriff’s deputy in 1995. She generally received positive work reviews until January 2001, when she received a three-day suspension for an on-duty automobile accident. The Yakima County Law Enforcement Officers Guild filed a grievance and the suspension was reduced to one day. Thereafter, Bartleson’s relationship with Sheriff Ken Irwin began to deteriorate. Bartleson exhausted her paid leave due to a combination of…

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Court Upholds $1.6 Million Jury Award In Favor Of Los Angeles Firefighters In Dog Food/Pasta Case

In 2004, Chris Burton served as Captain II of Station 5 in the Los Angeles Fire Department. His immediate subordinate was John Tohill, who served as a Captain I. On October 14, 2004, several members of Station 5 played volleyball at the beach during the day. Tennie Pierce, who is African-American, played well and referred to himself as “the big dog.” When Tohill and the firefighters shopped for dinner,…

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Jury Finds Port Authority Discriminates Against Asian Police Officers

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is an agency created by agreement between the states of New York and New Jersey to develop transportation facilities in the New York metropolitan area. The Port Authority's 13 facilities are policed by the Port Authority's Public Safety Department. The Department's promotional process requires officers to have served two years as an officer or detective as of the date of…

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Treatment Of Other Firefighters Bolsters African-American Firefighter’s Discrimination Claim

Tiffanye Wesley is a firefighter with Arlington County, Virginia. After several years’ experience riding a fire truck, serving as a training center instructor and in other administrative roles, Wesley began the process of competing within the Department for the position of captain. Although she met all of the minimum objective criteria to be eligible for promotion, and had twice passed both a written test and an experiential assessment designed…

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Chicago’s Reasons For Failing To Hiring Muslim Officer Not Pretextual

Ricky Martinez is a Muslim male of Middle-Eastern origin. Martinez filed a federal court lawsuit alleging that the Chicago Police Department failed to hire him as a probationary police officer because of his religion. In dismissing Martinez’s claim, the Court applied the “indirect method of proof” test to Martinez’s claim. Under the test, if a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case by showing that he or she is a…

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Trooper Can Proceed With Marital Discrimination Claim

Stacy Jones Tucker was a “buck sergeant” for the Georgia State Patrol, assigned to the Hinesville post. Tucker began having problems at work in 2006 when she married Robbie Tucker, who operated a wrecker service and was on a referral list for the State Patrol. Prior to the marriage, Tucker knew that at least one of her supervisors possessed a low opinion of Robbie Tucker, based on a comment…

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GINA, New Discrimination Law, Became Effective In November 2009

By Christopher W. Olmsted The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became effective on November 21, 2009. Generally, this federal law prohibits employers from acquiring or using genetic information about its employees, with certain exceptions. Who must comply with Title II of GINA? Title II is the section of GINA which regulates employers. It applies to private, state, and local government employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor…

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Diabetic Applicant Wins $100,000 from FBI

Jeffrey Kapche is a Type 1 diabetic. In 2002, he applied for a special agent position with the FBI. Kapche received a conditional offer of employment in 2004, but it was later revoked because the FBI determined that he did not have sufficient control over his diabetes, and that he would be unable to take on certain responsibilities of the position. Kapche sued under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,…

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Border Patrol Agent Not Entitled To Additional Breaks To Express Breast Milk

Josephine Puente was employed as a Border Patrol agent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Ysleta Border Patrol Station facility in El Paso, Texas. In January 2000, Puente gave birth to a baby girl and elected to breast feed. She returned to full-duty status in March 2000. During her shift, Puente took breaks to express breast milk, which required her to leave her regular post, travel…

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Calling Female Officer ‘Darling’ Does Not Amount To Sexual Harassment

Stormy Magiera works for the Dallas, Texas Police Department. Magiera and a fellow officer, Sergeant Ingram, responded to a nightclub where they had heard a gunshot. Ingram became irritated at how Magiera was processing the scene, and asked her to “speed the process up and issue some people some tickets so they could get out of there.” To the contrary, Magiera believed that the responding officer should arrest some…

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