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Features Court Cases in the News

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)


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Tennessee

Appeals Court Keeps Tennessee Trooper's Discrimination Suit Alive

Source: Brian Haas, The Tennessean
Date: December 21, 2010

A Tennessee Highway Patrol lieutenant who said he was demoted because he is a Republican can continue his discrimination lawsuit against the agency, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Paramount Staffing To Pay $585,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Source: Press Release, EEOC
Date: August 24, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Paramount Staffing, Inc., a temporary staffing agency, headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., will pay $ 585,000 to resolve a race and national origin lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

Baptist Sues Lowe's Over Working on Sundays

Source: Bonna Johnson, The Tennessean
Date: March 31, 2010

A Lowe's Home Center in East Tennessee is being sued for discrimination because it required an employee who is Baptist to work on Sundays, although he said he held sincere religious beliefs against working on the Sabbath.

Tenn. Woman Awarded $1.5M for Wrongful Firing

Source: AP, USA Today
Date: January 28, 2010

A federal jury awarded a former Nashville schools employee about $1.5 million on Monday after the woman claimed she was wrongfully terminated when she cooperated in a sexual harassment investigation of a school official.

Cracker Barrel to pay $255,000 to settle sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit

Source: Wendy Lee, The Tennessean
Date: April 10, 2009

Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores Inc. will pay $255,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said on Thursday.

Supreme Court will hear employee harassment case

Source: David Savage, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 19, 2008

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether employees are protected from being fired or demoted if they cooperate with an internal investigation of a supervisor who is accused of discrimination.

Vacation not an automatic benefit

Source: Pamela Reeves, Knoxville News-Sentinel
Date: December 17, 2006

This time of year must be stressful for Santa's elves. It wouldn't be too surprising if some of the elves were feeling particularly stressed and threatening to quit their jobs. After all, a nice vacation somewhere warm and sunny probably sounds like a good idea at the moment. Before they send in those letters of resignation, the elves might need to take a quick look at Santa's policies and procedures manual to see whether they can collect their accrued vacation leave. A recent State Attorney General's opinion takes the position that an employee is not necessarily entitled to unused vacation pay or other compensatory time when the employee terminates employment.

Ex-P&G worker wins $2.6M suit

Source: Ned B. Hunter, Jackson Sun
Date: February 2, 2006

A jury has awarded a former Procter & Gamble employee more than $2.6 million in damages. Plaintiff Dan Long filed a lawsuit against in U.S. District Court in Jackson [Tennessee] in 2003, accusing the company of wrongful termination in retaliation for his complaints of racial discrimination. After nearly five hours of deliberation, the jury found in favor of Long. They awarded him $2 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish, $29,000 for lost medical insurance benefits and a yet to be determined sum for lost wages that will be about $81,000. The awards do not necessarily include attorneys' fees, which he also was seeking.

White workers join race bias suit against Whirlpool

Source: Bush Bernard, The Tennessean
Date: September 16, 2005

Ten white Whirlpool workers have been added to a lawsuit brought two years ago by 15 black employees, alleging the company has allowed racial discrimination and a hostile work environment at its La Vergne [Tennessee] plant. An attorney representing the employees in their lawsuit against Whirlpool and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers said the combination of black and white plaintiffs in a racial discrimination case is unusual. The lawsuit claims that both white and black employees were harmed by acts that included the use of racial epithets, race-based jokes and a pattern of harassment that the plaintiffs say the company and union were aware of but did nothing about.

Attorney accused of age discrimination

Source: Gary Tanner, Associated Press, Wired News
Date: May 25, 2005

Jim Vines had no experience as a prosecutor when he was appointed U.S. attorney in Nashville in 2002, but he had a reputation for fixing broken organizations. And his mandate was to improve morale and boost the office's record of prosecutions. Now he stands accused of trying to accomplish this by systematically pressuring older attorneys to leave and replacing them with younger lawyers. Vines, 45, has been hit with an age-discrimination lawsuit, and higher-ups in the Justice Department are investigating. Vines said the changes in his office have been so extensive that some employees were bound to be unhappy, but he insisted they were necessary.

Lowe's Accused of Race Bias

Source: The Ledger (FL)
Date: March 25, 2004

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday it was suing Lowe's Cos. Inc. for discrimination against black job applicants at a Lowe's distribution center. The EEOC's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, accuses the nation's second largest home improvement retailer "with failing to hire a class of qualified AfricanAmerican applicants due to their race."

BEST Claims Racial Bias in $16M Law Suit

Source: Jill Noelle Cecil, The Leaf Chronicle (TN)
Date: March 4, 2004

Three men are alleging racial discrimination in a $16 million lawsuit against Clarksville and Montgomery County. In the lawsuit -- filed Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court -- Kevin Johnson and James Cossingham of Clarksville and the Rev. Jerry Jones of Hopkinsville, Ky., claim they were denied use of city and county facilities for programs they wanted to start for black people, American Indians and disabled veterans. Clark said the men each asked for access many times and "were denied every time."

Worker Claims Age Bias in Suit

Source: Chris Lewis, Nashville City Paper
Date: February 19, 2004

A employee who claims Saturn Corp. fired him because of his age is seeking class-action status in federal court on behalf of older workers he claims are being dismissed by the automaker to save money. The lawsuit filed by Douglas High last month in Williamson County Circuit Court was moved last week to U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee, as it claims violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The complaint states that as many as 100 employees may be affected by what High claims is a pattern of dismissing older employees to avoid giving them pay increases and benefits. But other individuals are not named.

Court Slaps Down Attempt to Unionize College Faculty

Source: Memphis Business Journal
Date: February 12, 2004

A federal court has ruled that full-time faculty members at LeMoyne-Owen college have "managerial" status and therefore may not unionize. The ruling, handed down Tuesday by the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit, reverses an earlier decision by the National Labor Relations Board. The full-time faculty members of the college sought to unionize in 2002, but LeMoyne-Owen argued that they could not unionize because of their "managerial" status. The National Labor Relations Act does not provide for collective bargaining by managerial employees.

Citigroup Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Atheist

Source: Associated Press, WBIR (TN)
Date: February 2, 2004

CitiGroup has settled a $250,000 religious discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who is the Tennessee director of American Atheists Inc. Attorney Charlton DeVault said the federal lawsuit filed by Carletta Sims was settled in Knoxville two weeks ago. DeVault said terms of the settlement prevent him from disclosing the amount of money Sims received. "She's relieved that it's over," DeVault said. "She's pleased that the court reinstated the case on the merits and she's pleased with the settlement." Sims filed suit in U.S. District Court in December 2001 claiming she was fired because she is an atheist.

Access to Justice

Source: Jonathan Groner, Legal Times
Date: January 12, 2004

In 1996, when George Lane was called upon to defend himself against misdemeanor charges in a state court in Polk County, Tenn., he crawled up the stairs to reach the courtroom. Lane, an amputee as a result of an automobile accident, uses a wheelchair. The problem was that the second floor of the historic courthouse to which he was summoned was inaccessible to him. The next time Lane went to court, he refused to crawl or to be carried. The proceedings went on without him. Lane eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with a revoked license. Then, two years later, he filed a $100,000 suit against Tennessee, claiming the state had humiliated him and had violated a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act that public buildings like courthouses must be accessible to the disabled.

Can Disabled People Be Forced to Crawl Up the Courthouse Steps?

Source: Adam Cohen, New York Times
Date: January 11, 2004

When George Lane showed up at the Polk County Courthouse with a crushed hip and pelvis, he had a problem. His hearing was on the second floor, there was no elevator, and the judge said he had better get upstairs. Mr. Lane, both of whose legs were in casts, somehow managed to get out of his wheelchair and crawl up two flights of stairs. "On a pain scale of 1 to 10, it was way past 10," he says. While Mr. Lane crawled up, he says, the judge and other courthouse employees "stood at the top of the stairs and laughed at me." His case was not heard in the morning session, he says, and at the lunch break he crawled back down. That afternoon, when he refused to crawl upstairs again, he was arrested for failing to appear, and put in jail. Anyone looking for evidence that a mean mood has descended on the nation need only stop by the Supreme Court Tuesday for the arguments in Tennessee v. Lane. Mr. Lane and other disabled people are suing Tennessee under the Americans With Disabilities Act for failing to make its courthouses accessible. Tennessee, backed by a group of other states, is belittling the claims, and insisting it has immunity to the suit. Incredibly, there is a real chance the Supreme Court will side with Tennessee.

Conditioning Coach Sues for Job Discrimination

Source: Kristin Smith, Vanderbilt Hustler
Date: December 12, 2003

Recreation Assistant Director Todd Suttles has filed a lawsuit in federal court asking for $250,000 in damages from Vanderbilt on charges of job discrimination. "We're still in the process of investigating the facts to support this claim," said Suttles' attorney, Tom Nebel in an October statement to The Tennessean. Todd Suttles was terminated from his position as head strength and conditioning coach at the end of 2001 when new head football coach Bobby Johnson brought in a new staff. Suttles, who is black, went through the interview process and secured his current job with student recreation, taking a $14,000 pay cut from his previous position. His two predecessors, who are both white, had been moved unilaterally or promoted.

DuPont Must Pay in Sex Case

Source: Deborah M. Clubb, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Date: October 23, 2003

DuPont has been ordered to pay $2.5 million in punitive damages to former Memphis employee Sharon Pollard. With an earlier award of $2.1 million in back pay and compensatory damages, Pollard would receive more than $4.6 million for sexual harassment she endured in the late 1990s at the chemical giant's North Memphis plant. "I feel I got fairness at every turn (in court), and that's all people can ask for," Pollard, 56, said Wednesday from her Fayette County home. "I got my day in court, and I'm happy with that."

Trane Sued for Alleged Prejudice

Source: Jimmy Settle, Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
Date: October 18, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Trane Co.'s parent, American Standard Inc., charging the Clarksville employer with discrimination against a long-time employee because of disability and "failure to reasonably accommodate the employee's speech impairment." The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, claims Trane discriminated against Linda Riggins Parker and refused to accommodate her speech impairment.

Bearded Man Fired, Sues Truck Stop Chain

Source: Associated Press, Jackson Sun
Date: October 5, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Pilot Travel Centers for allegedly firing a man who refused to shave his beard because of his religious beliefs. When hired in a maintenance position at a Pilot truck stop in Cookeville, Rafael Segura, a Messianic Jew, told the manager he needed to keep his beard. The local manager agreed, according to the lawsuit, but the regional manager objected and Segura was fired last year.

Woman Sues Army, Claims Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, The Tennessean
Date: September 12, 2003

A Holston Army Ammunition Plant employee claims in a federal lawsuit that she was denied a promotion because she is a woman. In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Pamela Wigle says her insistence that civilian contractors comply with federal environmental regulations has led to years of ''verbal abuse.'' She says she got her current status as a GS-12 federal employee as part of a settlement of a 1993 complaint to the Army Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Fired Worker Alleges Bias in Lawsuit Against Ruan

Source: David Elbert, Des Moines Register
Date: August 29, 2003

A former employee of Des Moines-based Ruan Transportation Management Systems has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the company in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn. The court complaint said Stephan C. Hallum was fired Oct. 4, 2002, after working for Ruan in Tennessee for about six years. Before filing the lawsuit, Hallum filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as is required by law in cases alleging discrimination. In that complaint, he said the Ruan office where he worked "is a hostile working environment for all females. . . . I have complained about the hiring practices of my direct supervisor and the racial slurs."

Supercuts Agrees to Settle Racial Bias Case for $3.5 Million

Source: D.E. L?Ger, Miami Herald
Date: August 14, 2003

A former Supercuts manager, who complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about a plan to reduce the number of black employees at the hair salon chain, paved the way for a $3.5 million settlement announced Wednesday. Richard Quick, of Melbourne, was a regional manager in charge of 76 Supercuts stores in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Puerto Rico when he balked at a Supercuts directive ''to balance the platform'' by trimming the number of black workers employed by the Minneapolis-based chain and was fired, the EEOC said.

Age Discrimination Claimed

Source: J.J. Stambaugh, Knoxville News-Sentinel
Date: July 10, 2003

University of Tennessee dean Marleen K. Davis interfered with the tenure process in the College of Architecture and Design in order to oust older faculty members and replace them with younger ones, according to lawsuits filed against her in Knox County. Former professor Shelah Michael Ware and professor Peter Lizon each have pending lawsuits against UT, Davis and other administrators alleging that Davis embarked upon a policy of age discrimination against senior members of her department, records on file in Knox County Circuit and Chancery courts show.

Officer Awarded $457,000 in Discrimination Case

Source: Ian Demsky, Tennessean
Date: July 10, 2003

A La Vergne police lieutenant has won $457,000 from the city for discrimination he says he suffered after investigating sexual impropriety within the department, court records show. Lt. Stace Lee Thompson sued the department in May 2001. He said he was transferred from criminal investigations to patrol and passed over for a promotion because he investigated a sexual harassment complaint filed by an officer against Lisa Lewis, the former administrative assistant of former Chief Howard ''Butch'' Morris.

Tacoma Firm Named in Racial-Bias Suit

Source: Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: July 9, 2003

A federal lawsuit against Labor Ready claims the temporary employment firm failed to promote blacks into management positions and retaliated against whites who reported discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in Memphis filed the discrimination lawsuit on behalf of five black and three white plaintiffs and claims the discrimination occurred in the Memphis and Jackson offices of Tacoma-based Labor Ready.

Supreme Court Gets Disability Rights Case

Source: Gina Holland (AP), FindLaw Legal News
Date: June 23, 2003

The Supreme Court said Monday it would decide whether states can be sued for failing to install wheelchair ramps or other accommodations for the disabled in the case of a paraplegic man who crawled two flights of steps to reach a hearing in a courthouse that lacked an elevator. When the man, who lost a leg in a car accident, refused to drag himself up the steps for a second hearing, he was arrested for failing to appear in court - even though he had sent word to the judge that he was downstairs. At issue is the scope of a landmark disabilities law passed by Congress in 1990. States have argued they should be shielded from lawsuits under the act.

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