an update for the week of september 4, 2006
today's workplace: the employee rights blog
Stay on Top of the Good Bad and Ugly with Workplace Fairness: Labor Day is a prime opportunity for organizations like Workplace Fairness to reflect upon how the American worker has fared, asking the Reaganesque question, "are you better off now than you were last year?" We attempt to answer this question in our latest special report: The Good, The Bad, and Wal-Mart: the Year in Workplace Fairness. And as promised, there's some good news, some bad news, and just plain ugly news for American workers.
this week in the courts
Decision Date: August 31, 2006
Dismissal of a contractor's First Amendment retaliation claim against a city is vacated where: 1) the district court erred in concluding that plaintiff failed to allege that a prior lawsuit was a matter of "public concern in the community" due to the lawsuit's location relative to that of the retaliation; 2) plaintiff's petition was sufficient to put the city on notice that its prior suit involved matters of public concern; and 3) a contractor is not required to have a prior relationship with a governmental entity before being able to assert a First Amendment claim.
Syverson v. Int'l Bus. Machs. Corp.  (Ninth Circuit; No. 04-16449)
Decision Date: August 31, 2006
Dismissal with prejudice of a putative class action alleging age discrimination claims against IBM is reversed and an award for IBM vacated where a waiver form used by IBM in connection with a severance benefit package was not "written in a manner calculated to be understood" by the average employee eligible to participate in the agreement, for purposes of being "knowing and voluntary" under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).
Mickelson v. New York Life Ins. Co.  (Tenth Circuit; No. 05-3049)
Decision Date: August 29, 2006
Summary judgment for defendant-employer on claims of retaliation and discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII and salary discrimination under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) is reversed where: 1) plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of pretext to survive summary judgment on her Title VII claim; and 2) defendant failed to establish that its proffered reasons were in fact the reason for a disparity in pay as a matter of law on the EPA claim.
Wallace v. City of San Diego  (Ninth Circuit; No. 03-56552)
Decision Date: August 25, 2006
Grant of judgment as a matter of law and a new trial are reversed where a jury's finding that a city constructively discharged plaintiff, a reserve officer, and took other retaliatory actions against him in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was supported by substantial evidence and was not contrary to the great weight of the evidence. However, a determination by the jury that liquidated damages should not be awarded is affirmed as plaintiff failed to preserve the issue for appeal.
Decision Date: August 23, 2006
Summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's claims of retaliatory transfer in violation of Title VII and the ADEA is vacated in light of Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 126 16 S. Ct. 2405 (2006), as plaintiff adduced evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact as to whether the changes in his employment were materially adverse.
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