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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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When Employees Knock Their Bosses on Social Media

Source: Adriana Gardella, The New York Times
Date: September 9, 2014

With the rise of social media, many business owners have sought to control what their employees post on the various social networks. But as the owners of Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille in Watertown, Conn., learned during recent litigation, employers may have less authority than they think.

Facebook and the Law: The NLRB Got It Right

Source: Suzanne Lucas, bNET
Date: February 10, 2011

You would be smart to be cautious about what you say and post on the internet, because unless you are saying something that is explicitly protected, your boss can still fire you.

Facebook Firing Case Is Settled

Source: Melanie Trottman, Wall Street Journal
Date: February 8, 2011

A company that fired a worker after she posted negative remarks about her boss on Facebook has settled a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board by agreeing to revamp its rules to ensure they don't restrict workers' rights, the NLRB said.

Settlement Talks Underway In Facebook Firing Case

Source: Mara Lee, Hartford Courant
Date: January 26, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board delayed a hearing on whether American Medical Response violated Dawnmarie Souza's rights by firing her after she complained about her boss on Facebook, to allow the two sides to continue negotiating a settlement.

Federal Authorities Say Firing for Posts on Facebook Illegal

Source: Sam Hananel, USA Today
Date: November 10, 2010

A Connecticut woman who was fired after posting disparaging remarks about her boss on Facebook has prompted a first-of-its-kind case by federal authorities who say her comments are protected speech under labor laws.

NLRB Sues Company for Firing Worker Over Facebook Post

Source: Jenna Greene, Blog of Legal Times
Date: November 4, 2010

A worker who was allegedly fired for posting negative comments about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page is being championed by the National Labor Relations Board, which announced yesterday that it filed a complaint against the company.

Banner Decision Unfairly Favors Labor Unions

Source: Edward F. O'Donnell Jr. and Matthew K. Curtin, Connecticut Law Tribune
Date: October 26, 2010

In a 3-2 decision, split along political party lines, the NLRB held that union members may display banners publicizing a labor dispute outside a neutral employer's place of business.

There Is Such a Thing as Too Much Judicial Restraint

Source: James Taranto, Wall Street Journal
Date: July 6, 2009

The Supreme Court leaves big decisions for future justices.

The Supreme Court's discrimination ruling: It's not black and white

Source: Editorial, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 30, 2009

The court faced complex issues in the New Haven, Conn., controversy. It offered a measured ruling.

Suit charges that nursery mistreated laborers

Source: Nina Bernstein, New York Times
Date: February 8, 2007

12 men were recruited in Guatemala and granted legal work visas to plant pine trees in North Carolina. But when they landed the bewildered Guatemalans were packed into a van, driven to Connecticut and turned into a captive labor force for Imperial Nurseries, one of the nation's major wholesalers of plants and shrubs. The lawsuit charges that agents of Imperial Nurseries confiscated the men's passports to prevent their escape, forced them to work nearly 80 hours a week for far less than minimum wage, denied them emergency medical care and threatened them with jail and deportation if they complained.

Former GE employee wins $11 million verdict

Source: Associated Press, Boston Globe
Date: July 20, 2006

A chief engineer of Indian descent has won an $11 million verdict against General Electric after a federal jury found the conglomerate discriminated against and illegally fired him. The jury awarded Hermant K. Moody, 52, $591,423 in back pay and $500,000 in compensatory damages. Jurors then added $10 million in punitive damages. Moody accused GE of discriminating against him in terms of promotions, job assignments and benefits. He said that since joining the company in 1998 he watched younger, white males pass him by in promotions and management positions. Moody said GE has not contributed to its pension fund since 1987 and is able to do so by maintaining a young work force, and laying off or firing employees as they become older.

Chief of unit files lawsuit accusing GE of racial bias

Source: Claudia H. Deutsch, New York Times
Date: May 18, 2005

A chief executive of a unit of General Electric filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing GE of underpaying African-American managers, denying them promotions and retaliating when they raise objections. He is seeking $450 million in damages. GE denied the accusations and said it would seek to have the suit dismissed. Marcel T. Thomas, the chief executive of GE Aviation Materials, filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court in Bridgeport, Conn. David W. Sanford, who is representing him, said that in proposing to certify the suit as a class action, he would ask for $450 million in compensatory and punitive damages to be distributed among some 4,500 employees--the number of black managerial and professional employees he estimates work at GE.

'Dumb CEO Defense' Spares Cendant Chairman From Prison

Source: Tim O'Brien, New Jersey Law Journal
Date: January 19, 2005

When it comes to surviving cooking-the-book corporate scandals, it's good to be the CEO. That seems to be the message from the prosecution of the top executive of Cendant Corp., the first major company hauled to court for the type of massive accounting frauds that rocked the nation and led to reforms. After a six-month trial and two months of deliberations, a jury in Hartford, Conn., could not reach a verdict on Jan. 4 on the 16 counts against former Cendant chairman Walter Forbes. But the jury did convict his second-in-command, vice chairman E. Kirk Shelton.

In Connecticut, a pension fund trial could shake Wall Street

Source: Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times
Date: May 27, 2004

Away from the limelight of recent corporate trials, a six-member jury in a Connecticut hamlet will begin hearing a little-publicized case next week that could have far reaching implications for Wall Street buyout firms and the big-money investors and institutions that back them. On Tuesday morning, the colorful financier Theodore J. Forstmann and his private equity firm, Forstmann Little & Company, will go on trial in Rockville, about 130 miles north of Manhattan, to face accusations from Connecticut's attorney general and state treasurer that the firm improperly invested $125 million of the state's pension fund money and subsequently lost it.

Justices End Scouts' Appeal in Bias Suit

Source: Anne Gearan (AP), Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: March 9, 2004

The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal from the Boy Scouts over what the organization says is discrimination because of its policy against hiring gays. The case revisited the gay- rights fight surrounding the high court's ruling four years ago that the Boy Scouts have the right to ban openly homosexual Scout leaders. This time, the question was whether states may treat the Scouts differently from other organizations because of that policy. The Scouts asked the justices to hear a case from Connecticut, where officials moved to drop the group from a list of charities that receive donations through a state employee payroll deduction plan. That's unconstitutional discrimination, the Boy Scouts argued. "To exclude the Boy Scouts from a forum based on the values they hold and the conduct they require of their members is to exclude Boy Scouts based on viewpoint and identity," lawyers for the Scouts argued in their Supreme Court appeal. The Scouts took in about $10,000 annually from the employee charity campaign, the filing said. The Scouts lost two previous rounds in federal court, and Monday's action means the case is over.

Workplace Computer Off-Limits?

Source: Kellie A. Wagner, Connecticut Law Tribune
Date: November 3, 2003

A New Haven, Conn., criminal defense lawyer wants the state Supreme Court to recognize that employees have some expectation of privacy when it comes to their workplace computers -- even if the material they are viewing or downloading is child pornography. Constitutional issues related to workers' expectations of privacy in their offices have been addressed with mixed results before the U.S. Supreme Court and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, among other jurisdictions. But Connecticut's highest court has yet to take a stance in the matter, according to lawyer Diane Polan. Polan represents Antonio Lasaga, a former geology and geophysics professor at Yale University who was convicted on state and federal charges last year after police searched his office for child pornographic material. At oral argument before the state Supreme Court Oct. 20 in State v. Lasaga, Polan argued in favor of granting Connecticut citizens a reasonable expectation of privacy in using their workplace computers.

McDonald's Settles Lawsuit by 420lb Man

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: October 23, 2003

McDonald's has settled a lawsuit filed by a 420-pound man who claimed he was denied a job because of his weight. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Joseph Connor claimed in his lawsuit that the fast-food chain violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and state employment law. He demanded $300,000 for financial loss and severe emotional trauma, along with a job at McDonald's.

Suit Over Weight Settled

Source: Associated Press, WTNH (CT)
Date: October 23, 2003

A federal discrimination lawsuit filed against McDonald's by a 420-pound New Haven man has been settled. Joseph Connor had sued the fast food chain, claiming he was not hired because he is overweight. Terms of the settlement haven't been made public. Connor filed the lawsuit last year, claiming violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.

High Court Rules Norwalk Teacher Was Victim of Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, Record Journal (CT)
Date: October 23, 2003

The Norwalk Board of Education discriminated against a black teacher when it rejected him for an administrative position six years ago, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. John Saunders, an art teacher at Nathan Hale Middle School, applied for the assistant principal position in 1997. A teacher in Norwalk since 1974, he was passed over in favor of a younger, white guidance counselor. "It's been a long, lonely road," said Saunders, 56, who still teaches at the middle school. "For a long time, I thought my career was totally destroyed. I don't know if its repairable yet," he said. The high court's unanimous decision affirms a lower court's ruling that Saunders is entitled to lost wages as well as automatic hiring for the next available assistant principal position in the district.

Registrar?s Aide Files Suit for Back Wages

Source: Michael Gannon, New Haven Register
Date: October 9, 2003

A lawsuit filed against the town recently asks that the town pay the daughter of the town?s Republican registrar of voters for work she has done as an assistant registrar. Both sides agree that the more fundamental issue is who may hire and dismiss employees, and what process must be followed in order to effect a dismissal. Elizabeth Abbate, daughter of Registrar Richard Abbate, filed a three-page complaint on Sept. 25, asking that Town Manager Michael Milone release money to pay for the work she did beginning last April. The complaint states that Milone has refused to compensate Abbate "for her services and expenses despite available funds appropriated for that purpose."

Lawyers' Fees to Be Taxed Twice

Source: Thomas B. Scheffey, The Connecticut Law Tribune
Date: September 29, 2003

Uncertainty over who has to pay income tax on a lawyer's fee has long vexed employment litigation. But U.S. District Senior Judge Peter C. Dorsey has concluded that both client and lawyer must fork over income tax on the attorney's fee component of an award or settlement. Even if the employer, by contract, must write the check to the lawyer directly, Dorsey's seven-page analysis in Parmanand v. Capewell Components, LLC determines that payment is really being made first to the client, and is also taxable as client income.

Blind Former State Workers File Discrimination Complaint

Source: Associated Press, Greenwich Time
Date: August 13, 2003

Several blind former workers at a state program have filed a discrimination complaint against the state. The three, all from West Haven, worked for the now-defunct industries division of the state's Board of Education and Services for the Blind. The program was shut down Jan. 3 after Gov. John G. Rowland issued about 2,800 layoff notices throughout state government because of state budget problems. About 100 blind workers, who assembled T-shirts, duffel bags and other equipment for the federal government, lost their jobs. Although they weren't state employees, their supervisors were. When the supervisors were laid off, the blind people were out of work and the program was permanently shut down.

Obese People Are Taking Their Bias Claims to Court

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: August 4, 2003

When Joseph Connor was offered a job as a cook at a McDonald's here, he finally seemed to have found a way to help support his five children. But along came a snag. The McDonald's manager told Mr. Connor, who is 6-foot-1 and weighs nearly 420 pounds, that he could start work as soon as his specially ordered uniform arrived. He waited days, then weeks, then months. The restaurant chain says his uniform never arrived and his job never started because the franchise had changed hands. But in Mr. Connor's view, there could be only one reason: the restaurant's managers had concluded he was too fat to work there. So Mr. Connor sued last year, and his claim that McDonald's illegally discriminated against him for being obese has put him at the forefront of a growing number of overweight people who have brought lawsuits charging that employers have wrongly refused to hire them.

Connecticut Judge Finds That In-Houser Can Sue Employer

Source: Thomas B. Scheffey, The Connecticut Law Tribune
Date: July 14, 2003

In a case that cuts to the heart of what it means to be a company's lawyer, a Connecticut Superior Court judge rejected Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group's claim that its former GC can't sue for wrongful discharge due to his duties under the attorney-client privilege. However, the judge granted the company's motion to strike two of the plaintiff's five counts seeking release from confidentiality obligations.

2nd Circuit: State Can Bar Scouts From Charity Drive

Source: Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal
Date: July 11, 2003

Connecticut has the right to prohibit the Boy Scouts of America from participating in a state-employee charity drive because of the organization's policy of excluding homosexuals from membership and employment positions, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. Upholding the decision of Judge Warren W. Eginton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the circuit court said that "removal of the Boy Scouts from this nonpublic forum did not violate the Boy Scout's First Amendment right to expressive association." The decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman, 02-9000, concerned the Connecticut State Employee Campaign Committee's annual workplace charity drive.

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