Whistleblower: Tennessee Public Protection Act or Common Law Retaliatory Discharge Claim?

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Whistleblowers refusing to remain silent or participate in illegal activities on the part of the employers often question whether they should proceed with a Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA) under T. C. A. § 50-1-304 or common law retaliatory discharge claim.  The answer is it depends.  If you are a government employee of a governmental entity or subdivision thereof as defined in the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (T. C. A. § 29-20-201) then you are limited to prosecuting a cause … [Read more...]

EEOC Litigates LGBT Discrimintion

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Recent EEOC Litigation Regarding Title VII & LGBT-Related Discrimination (Last Updated by EEOC 3-01-16) Overview The Commission adopted its current Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) in December of 2012. The SEP includes "coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII's sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply" as a top Commission enforcement priority. Consistent with this priority, the Commission's General Counsel formed an LGBT working group … [Read more...]

Protect Yourself if You Are in an Office Romance with a Co-Worker

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According to CareerBuilder's annual office romance survey, 38 percent of respondents have dated a co-worker at least once in their career, and one-third of them ended up married.  In this time of Valentine’s Day gifts and sweet nothings being whispered about in the office, one must be apprised of the risks and listen to their head rather than their heart.  If the relationship sours, then hell may in fact have no fury like a woman’s scorn.  The employer may not be in a position to adjudicate the … [Read more...]

Surrogate Mother May Proceed on Discrimination Claim against Marriot

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A motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in a California District Court by Marriott was denied.  A surrogate mother may proceed in her cause of action alleging Title VII discrimination against the hotel chain claiming she was discriminated against by not being permitted to express breast milk after giving birth. U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow said Plaintiff Mary Gonzales has shown enough to proceed with claims that the hotel violated federal and California law. Mary Gonzales gave birth to … [Read more...]

Same Sex Sexual Harassment Claims

Sex discrimination consisting of same-sex sexual harassment is actionable under Title VII. Title VII's prohibition of discrimination “because of ... sex” protects men as well as women, Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. EEOC, 462 U.S. 669, 682, 103 S.Ct. 2622, 2630, 77 L.Ed.2d 89, and in the related context of racial discrimination in the workplace this Court has rejected any conclusive presumption that an employer will not discriminate against members of his own race,Castaneda v. … [Read more...]

Vicarious Liability to Employer if Discrimination is Intentional

An employer may be held vicariously liable for punitive damages under Title VII for the intentionally discriminatory conduct of its employee who has discriminated in the face of a known risk that his conduct will violate federal law, where the employee served the employer in a managerial capacity and committed the intentional discrimination at issue while acting in the scope of employment, and the employer did not engage in good-faith efforts to comply with Title VII. Civil Rights Act of 1964, § … [Read more...]

Punitive Damages in Title VII Claims

An award of punitive damages is allowed in a Title VII action when the employee demonstrates that the employer engaged in intentional discrimination with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of the employee. Civil Rights Act of 1964, § 701 et seq., 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e et seq.; 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981a(a)(1), (b)(1). … [Read more...]

Shifting Burdens of Proof in a Discrimination Claim

Once an employee has established a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the adverse employment action; if the employer succeeds in doing so, the employee must then demonstrate that the employer's asserted reason is simply a pretext for retaliation. Civil Rights Act of 1964, § 704(a), 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e–3(a). … [Read more...]

Elements for for “sexually objectionable environment in workplace”

In order to be actionable under Title VII, a sexually objectionable environment must be both objectively and subjectively offensive, one that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that the victim in fact did perceive to be so; courts must determine whether an environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive by looking at all the circumstances, including frequency of discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating or a mere offensive … [Read more...]

“Economic” or “Tangible” Discrimination

Although employment discrimination provisions of Title VII mention specific employment decisions with immediate consequences, scope of the prohibition is not limited to “economic” or “tangible” discrimination and covers more than terms and conditions of employment in the contractual sense. Civil Rights Act of 1964, § 703(a)(1), 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2(a)(1).   … [Read more...]

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