A Lesson in Avoiding Liability

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The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals holds that a plaintiff-employee's claim of sex discrimination (failure to promote) should not have been dismissed, but rather may proceed to trial based on an accumulation of circumstantial evidence, much of which had little or nothing to do with the decision-maker's decision not to promote the female employee.

On September 23, 2009, in the case of Risch v. Royal Oak Police Department, 581 F.3d 383 (6th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit – which governs Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee – reversed a federal district court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant-employer. The case ultimately demonstrates a court's ability to intercede in the decision-making process all employers go through when hiring, promoting, demoting, disciplining, and terminating employees. Furthermore, the case reinforces that employers need to: (1) police potentially inappropriate conduct of all of their employees (not just supervisors); (2) maintain and communicate to all employees appropriate policies forbidding harassment and discrimination; and (3) enforce those policies when violated by any employee, whether or not that employee has supervisory or managerial authority.

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Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Civil Rights Updates, Labor & Employment Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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