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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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EEOC Gets $435K for Black Temp Workers in Mississippi

Source: Patrick Dorrian, Bloomberg BNA
Date: August 31, 2016

Aug. 30 — A nationwide employment agency will pay $435,000 to settle claims by the EEOC it excluded black job seekers when staffing temporary jobs at a FedEx SmartPost location in Southaven, Miss. ( EEOC v. Res. Emp’t Sols., LLC , N.D. Miss., No. 3:14-cv-00217, consent decree filed 8/26/16 ).

Plastics Molding Companies to Pay $190,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Source: Press Release, EEOC
Date: June 22, 2010

A St. Louis-based plastic injection molding company will pay $190,000 and provide other relief to resolve a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

Hundreds of Workers Held in Immigration Raid

Source: Adam Nossiter, New York Times
Date: August 25, 2008

In another large-scale workplace immigration crackdown, federal officials raided a factory here on Monday, detaining at least 350 workers they said were in the country illegally. Numerous agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on a factory belonging to Howard Industries Inc., which manufactures electrical transformers, among other products.

City wants to halt religious talk in discrimination case

Source: Jimmie E. Gates, Clarion-Ledger
Date: December 11, 2005

Tupelo [Mississippi] attorney Jim Waide should not be allowed to talk about religion, biblical authority and/or a deity in opening or closing statements, attorneys for the city of Oxford argue. Waide represents a man who alleges he was terminated from his job because a supervisor disapproved of his dating a white woman. Charles Flemons' racial discrimination lawsuit isn't set for trial until August, but attorneys for the city already are seeking to limit Waide's comments. Attorney Mark Fijman said in a motion, "For example, plaintiff's attorney previously has told jurors in closing to essentially do what Jesus would do."

Victim's family say Lockheed ruling hurts

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: July 24, 2005

Lynette McCall was so scared that Doug Williams would eventually make good on threats to kill her and other co-workers that she increased her life insurance just before his 2003 shooting spree that left six people dead. Williams walked out of a mandatory diversity training class on July 8, 2003, and returned with a 12-gauge shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle. He shot 14 people then turned the gun on himself. The shooting victims and their families sued Lockheed, claiming the company knew Williams' racism had created a volatile work environment and did nothing to defuse the situation. Now, a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hold the case to workers' compensation standards could dramatically limit what the victims and their families can collect.

Lawsuit: Lockheed should have prevented rampage

Source: Holbrook Mohr, Associated Press, Clarion-Ledger
Date: March 21, 2005

Alvin Collier remembers the shooting spree each time he has to tie his shoes without the two fingers that were blasted off. For Bobby McCall, that summer day was the last time he saw his wife of 26 years. It was July 8, 2003, when Lockheed [Martin] worker Doug Williams left a diversity training class at the plant and returned with a 12-gauge shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle. He killed Lynette McCall and four others, and wounded eight, before taking his own life. Williams, who the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission described as having created a "racially charged atmosphere" at the plant, was white; four of the dead were black, while a majority of the wounded were white. A federal lawsuit filed by Collier and the families of two of the dead contends Lockheed knew of Williams' views and should have taken steps to prevent the shootings.

Lawsuit claims discrimination

Source: Nicholas Cole, Sun Herald
Date: October 9, 2004

An Ocean Springs [Mississippi] man has filed a lawsuit against Cingular Wireless in U.S. District Court claiming discrimination from a hostile work environment and improper treatment relating to job opportunities and advancement. The suit seeks $10 million in punitive damages and $2.5 million in compensatory damages. The suit claims that Cingular's Ocean Springs branch, where the plaintiff, who is bipolar, worked for several years, failed to provide reasonable accommodations for several vacant positions for which the plaintiff was qualified. The suit also claims Cingular did not have a policy prohibiting harassment and hostile work environment and discrimination related to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans Disabilities Act of 1990.

Federal judge rules out worker comp limits in Lockheed lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Sun Herald
Date: September 16, 2004

A federal judge's order means relatives of six factory workers shot to death at the Lockheed Martin plant in 2003 may seek millions of dollars for alleged damages rather than having to agree to much smaller awards under worker's compensation laws. Relatives representing the estates of slain workers have sued Lockheed Martin, saying the Bethesda, Md.-based company knew of Williams' violent tendencies and dislike of black people. Plaintiffs say the company created a hostile and unsafe workplace for black workers by failing to restrain Williams. Five of the six killed were black employees. Williams was white.

Busines forum: being unfair to the gray-haired

Source: Marshall H. Tanick, Star Tribune
Date: August 22, 2004

About half of the workforce in this country, including more than a million Minnesotans, have a big stake in a case that will be decided this fall by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case will determine the scope of the Federal Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), which covers employees 40 years and older. The lawsuit, known as Smith vs. City of Jackson, was brought by 30 older police officers in Mississippi. The justices must decide one of the most disputed issues in civil rights law: whether employees who claim age discrimination must prove that management deliberately and intentionally singled out older workers for unfavorable treatment.

Judge set to release ruling after 6 years: $10 million suit on behalf of 167 police officers alleged discrimination

Source: Jimmie E. Gates, Clarion-Ledger [Mississippi]
Date: May 24, 2004

Nearly 10 years ago, then-Jackson police officer Mike Cox, frustrated with the way the Police Department handled promotions, discipline and transfers, became the lead plaintiff in a federal discrimination lawsuit against the city. The $10 million lawsuit, filed on behalf of 167 police officers, was tried before U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate in September 1997. But more than six years later, the officers are still awaiting Wingate's ruling. Wingate said last week he plans to release a 50-page opinion on the case this week. He delayed ruling, he said, in hopes a settlement could be reached.

Status of Procter & Gamble Lawsuits Uncertain

Source: Dennis Seid, Jackson Sun
Date: April 9, 2004

Two federal racial discrimination lawsuits filed last year against the Procter & Gamble plant in Jackson are still open, but nobody knows if or when the suits will be heard by a jury. Dan E. Long of Jackson filed a discrimination suit in the U.S. District Court in Jackson. A separate lawsuit was also filed involving eight other former or current P&G employees. All are black. P&G vehemently denies any wrong-doing.

High Court Takes On Key Employment Law Issues

Source: Tony Mauro, Legal Times
Date: March 31, 2004

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to resolve two key employment law issues that have divided lower courts for years. One pair of cases will test the government's policy that calls for both the client and the lawyer to pay taxes on the portion of employment discrimination damage awards paid to the lawyer. The other question taken up stems from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act: Can plaintiffs use the act to bring suits that claim disparate treatment in the workplace? Courts have previously ruled such suits are permissible under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The cases will be argued in the fall. The tax cases, Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Banks, No. 03-892, and Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Banaitis, No. 03-907, ask whether the contingent-fee portion of an award should be treated as taxable income to the client. The fee is already taxed as income to the lawyer. Features quotes from NELA's Bruce Fredrickson and Angie Dalfen.

Proving Age Discrimination

Source: New York Times
Date: April 1, 2004

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was intended to protect older workers from bias. Federal courts, however, have frequently given the law an unduly narrow interpretation, leaving older Americans vulnerable to unfair treatment. This week, the Supreme Court accepted a case that can rectify this problem -- if it decides that older workers can rely on the same burden of proof as plaintiffs in cases of race and sex bias. Doing otherwise would leave millions of working Americans who are 40 or older vulnerable to mistreatment. The age-bias law's text almost exactly tracks the language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars race and sex discrimination. Under Title VII, plaintiffs can make their case by showing "disparate impact" -- that is, that an employer's actions have an unequal impact on their group. After such a showing, the employer has the burden of proving that its supposedly neutral policy serves a legitimate purpose. The disparate-impact standard is important because it is often impossible to prove an employer's intent to discriminate.

High Court Will Review Age Bias in the Workplace

Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post
Date: March 30, 2004

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will revisit the question of whether workers 40 and older may sue their employers for policies that allegedly treat older workers worse than younger ones, even though they appear neutral on paper. Though the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was adopted by Congress in 1967, the Supreme Court has never decided whether it authorizes cases involving unintentional discrimination, known as "disparate impact" suits. Meanwhile, federal appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on the issue. The Supreme Court tried to settle the matter in 2001, when it agreed to hear a case brought by older workers at a Florida utility who said they were disproportionately laid off during corporate downsizing. But the court dismissed the case without a ruling in 2002.

Supreme Court to Consider Role of Intent in Age Bias

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: March 30, 2004

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to settle one of the most disputed questions in civil rights law: how to win an age discrimination case in the absence of proof that an employer deliberately singled out older workers for unfavorable treatment. The issue in a case brought by a group of older police officers in Jackson, Miss., is whether the federal law against age discrimination covers policies that do not relate directly to age but that have a disparate impact on older workers. In this case, the older officers are trying to show that new wage scales, intended to make the pay for more recently hired officers more competitive with other police departments in the region, had the effect of giving proportionately smaller increases to the more senior officers. The 30 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are all at least 40 years old, the age at which coverage under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act begins. Both the Federal District Court in Jackson and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled for the city on the ground that the law requires proof of "disparate treatment," meaning intentional discrimination. Neutral policies that have a differential impact on different age groups are not covered by the law, the appeals court said in a 2-to-1 ruling last November. Other federal appellate circuits have reached the opposite conclusion, and the legal dispute has been raging for years.

Court to Review Workplace Age Bias Rules

Source: Associated Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Date: March 29, 2004

As older workers make up an ever-greater share of the American work force, the Supreme Court said Monday it will clarify what they must prove in order to claim that employers were biased in favor of younger people. The high court agreed to hear an appeal involving pay raises for police officers in Jackson, Miss. If the justices side with the city, older workers will have a tougher case to make. Federal law protects workers over 40 from outright discrimination based on age. Under a 1967 anti-discrimination law, a 55-year-old waitress might have a strong case if she could show that she was sacked purely because the boss wanted to hire someone 30 years younger. Most discrimination cases aren't so black and white, however, and the Mississippi police case addresses one of the large gray areas. At issue are workplace policies that appear neutral but actually have a disproportionately harsh effect on older workers. Advocates for the aging say such subtle forms of bias reflect the real world, where few employers would be upfront about intentionally favoring younger workers over older ones.

Court to Examine Age Bias in Workplace

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: March 29, 2004

The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider workplace protections for older employees, in a case that could make age bias suits tougher to prove. Justices will take up an appeal from police officers in Mississippi's capital city to decide if older employees have rights similar to those of minorities when it comes to discrimination claims. The court first agreed to consider the subject in another case involving fired Florida utility workers in late 2001, then backed out of that case without explanation. The new case pits the city of Jackson, Miss., against officers over age 40 who contend they were harmed by a new pay policy. The officers lost in a lower court. People over age 40 are protected from age bias at work, under a federal law. The Supreme Court will consider whether that 1967 law permits lawsuits on grounds that an employer's action has a disproportionate impact on older workers. Justices already have settled that impact suits are allowed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on a worker's sex, religion or race.

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