Hostile Environment

News & Analysis as of

Employment Law - June 2015 #2

Joint Employers Can Be Liable for Employee Misclassification in California: Why it matters - Liability under the California Labor Code extends to joint employers that are aware of a willful misclassification of an...more

Can Employee Display a Confederate Flag on Facebook as Free Speech? Or Can Employer Take Action?

There’s been lots of talk lately about the Confederate flag and its symbolism in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings. But I wondered: How has this flag come up in the context of employment discrimination cases?...more

New Harassment and Retaliation Standard in Fourth Circuit

Last month, in Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes North and South Carolina, articulated a new standard for analyzing...more

Cumulative Harassment Theory Must Include Individual Claims That Meet Severe and Pervasive Threshold

Sometimes, employees believe that they have been discriminated against or harassed based on their membership in multiple protected categories. Employers often receive EEOC charges that identify race and sex, or age and...more

Transgender at Work: How Employers Can Stay Off the EEOC Radar Screen

It’s no secret that the EEOC—and even some courts—read Title VII to prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. A growing number of state and city laws also specifically include gender identity and/or expression as...more

Fourth Circuit Lowers Bar for Employees in Title VII Retaliation Claims

The case involved an African American cocktail waitress who claimed she was called a “porch monkey” by another employee twice within a 24 hour period. Shortly after reporting the incidents, her employment was terminated. She...more

Fourth Circuit Ruling Makes Retaliation Claims Harder to Dismiss

Reya C. Boyer-Liberto, a cocktail waitress, recently filed a lawsuit against the Maryland hotel she worked at, claiming she was fired after complaining about people using racial slurs against her. The defendant, the...more

MLB Litigation Brief: 4th Circuit Hostile Work Enviro, Class Action Trends Cause Concern, Low-Wage Non-Competes & More

Survey Says Increasing Number of Class Actions Most Important Litigation Trend: Norton Rose Fulbright recently released its global 2015 Litigation Trends Annual Survey, which compiles litigation trends and data gathered...more

The Fourth Circuit Asks What For, Answers with But For: The Determination that a Landmark United States Supreme Court Decision...

In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States held that plaintiffs claiming retaliation under Title VII must prove that “but for” the retaliation they would not have been discharged. University of Texas Southwestern Medical...more

Single Incident of Severe Verbal Harassment Can Be Sufficient to Establish a Hostile Working Environment

In Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., 2015 WL 2116849 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the Fourth Circuit recently held that an isolated, but "extremely serious" incident of verbal harassment can establish a hostile work...more

No Specific Statute Cited in a Pleading? No Problem, Says the Court

It is commonly understood that Connecticut is mainly a “fact-pleading” state when it comes to the court system. What does that mean? Well, Norm Pattis, in a 2013 Law Tribune column, described the significance in calling...more

Single Plant Employment Discrimination Class Survives Dukes Challenge

A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit ruled that a South Carolina district court judge improperly applied Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes in decertifying disparate treatment and disparate impact claims challenging promotion...more

Fourth Circuit Orders Class Certification for African-American Steelworkers—Again

For the second time, the Fourth Circuit has determined that African-American employees at a South Carolina steel plant are entitled to Rule 23 class certification. In Brown v. Nucor Corporation and Nucor Steel-Berkeley,...more

H2H Enterprises / Huddle House #670 to Pay $15,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment Lawsuit

Restaurant Managers Created a Racially Hostile Work Environment For Black Employee, Federal Agency Charged - PINE BLUFF, Ark. - H2H Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a/ Huddle House #670 in Pine Bluff, Ark., will pay $15,000 to...more

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Hostile Work Environment Can Be Created With A Single Racial Epithet

Despite consistent direction from the United States Supreme Court that courts should look at "all the circumstances" in determining whether a workplace environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive to give rise to an...more

Fourth Circuit Joins Other Federal Courts in Broadly Interpreting the Scope of Title VII Retaliation Claims

On May 7, 2015, the Fourth Circuit ruled that an isolated instance of harassment, if "extremely serious," can create a hostile work environment, and that complaining about such harassment constitutes protected activity under...more

Fourth Circuit Reverses Position on Single Racial Slur as Sufficient to Create Hostile Work Environment

For years, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes North Carolina and South Carolina) set a high bar for plaintiffs suing for workplace harassment. The court rejected multiple claims involving obnoxious and crude...more

In a Win for Employees, Fourth Circuit Finds That Two Racial Slurs May Support Harassment Claim

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently made two noteworthy rulings in a single case concerning sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII. First, as it relates to sexual harassment, the Court found that two...more

Lowering the Bar: Fourth Circuit Rules Single Incident Sufficient to Trigger Title VII Hostile Work Environment Claim

Out with the old and in with the new. In a decision issued last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a single incident of harassment was sufficient to move a harassment claim forward. This decision is certainly...more

Fourth Circuit Lowers the Bar in Title VII Harassment and Retaliation Cases

On May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (covering Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland) issued an opinion that potentially makes it easier for employees to survive...more

Social Awareness Programs: Good for Business or Legal Risk?

Despite good intentions and previous success taking a stand on contentious issues — i.e., gun control and gay marriage — a coffee company quickly realized its campaign to encourage discussions of race relations between...more

California Court of Appeal Reminds Employers About the Importance of Thorough Harassment Investigations

Dawson v. Country Club of Rancho Bernardo, No. D064654 (March 23, 2015): In an unpublished opinion, a California Court of Appeal reversed an order granting summary judgment in favor of the employer, Country Club of Rancho...more

Harassing Act Directed at Another Employee Enough to Revive Plaintiff's Time Barred Harassment Claims

Under Title VII, employees typically must file a charge of discrimination within 180 days (or 300 days in states such as South Carolina with their own EEO enforcement agencies) of the alleged discriminatory act. In its 2002...more

Court finds employer not vicariously liable for actions of employees against other employees

In Palmer & Ors v State of Queensland [2015] QDC 63, a determination by Judge McGill of the Brisbane District Court delivered on 27 March 2015 determined that the employer, Disability Services Queensland, took all reasonable...more

Labor and Employment — The TMZ of Law

We employment lawyer types proudly boast that no one has better legal stories to tell than we do (if only we could tell all of our stories). Some of our best stories were thrust into the media during the first quarter of...more

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