Supreme Court Decision Sets High Bar for Establishing Retaliation Claims Under Title VII

Our colleague Amy B. Messigian at Epstein Becker Green recently posted “Supreme Court Decision Sets High Bar for Establishing Retaliation Claims Under Title VII” on the Health Employment and Labor blog, and we think hospitality employers will be interested.

Following is an excerpt:

In University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, one of two employment-related opinions issued on Monday by the Supreme Court, a narrow majority held that a retaliation claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be proved according to a strict but for causation standard. Under such a standard, a plaintiff must present proof that “the unlawful retaliation would not have occurred in the absence of the alleged wrongful action or actions of the employer.”

The underlying facts of the Nassar case are somewhat complicated. The plaintiff, a medical doctor employed as a faculty member of the defendant medical center and staff physician for its affiliated hospital entity, resigned from the faculty claiming that the chief of infectious disease medicine at the medical center was biased against individuals of Middle Eastern heritage such as plaintiff. The hospital entity offered the plaintiff a full time position as staff physician, but later rescinded the offer after plaintiff’s former supervisor protested the job offer. The plaintiff sued, alleging that the medical center retaliated against him for his discrimination complaints by encouraging the hospital to rescind its job offer. A jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded more than $3 million in damages.

Read the full post here.

Supreme Court Holds That Only Employees Who Have Authority to Take Tangible Employment Actions Constitute Supervisors for the Purpose of Vicarious Liability Under Title VII

Our colleague Julie Saker Schlegel at Epstein Becker Green recently posted “Supreme Court Holds That Only Employees Who Have Authority to Take Tangible Employment Actions Constitute Supervisors for the Purpose of Vicarious Liability Under Title VII” on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog, and we think hospitality employers will be interested. Following is an excerpt:

In a 5-4 decision the dissent termed “decidedly employer-friendly,” the Supreme Court held on June 24, 2013 that only employees who have been empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against a harassment victim constitute “supervisors” for the purpose of vicarious liability under Title VII. Per the holding in Vance v. Ball State University, employees who merely direct the work activities of others, but who lack the authority to take tangible employment actions, will no longer be considered supervisors under Title VII.

Under long-standing precedent (Faragher and Ellerth), whether an employer can be found vicariously liable for harassment perpetrated by its employees is dependent on whether the harasser is a supervisor or merely a co-worker of the victim …

Read the full post here.

Oral Discomfort: Supreme Court Holds That Verbal FLSA Complaints Suffice

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., __ U.S. __ (March 22, 2011), holds that an employee’s oral complaint of a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) constitutes protected conduct under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision. 

EBG partner Frank C. Morris, Jr., discusses in an EBG Act Now Advisory the fact that the Kasten decision is merely the latest in an ever-growing series of cases where the Supreme Court has broadly interpreted protections against retaliation and for whistleblowers.  The EBG Act Now Advisory also addresses what employers should do in light of these recent decisions.

 

To review the EBG Act Now Advisory on this issue, click here.

Supreme Court Rules that Fiancé of Protester Is Protected from Retaliation

 

EBG Partners Peter M. Panken, Frank C. Morris, Jr., Peter A. Steinmeyer, and Michael S. Kun discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in which the Court significantly expanded employee protections against retaliation by employers.  In Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, __ U.S. __ (Jan. 24, 2011), the Court held that protection from retaliation extends not only to those employees who themselves oppose alleged discrimination or file a charge or otherwise participate in a proceeding, but also to the fiancé of an employee who filed a charge of discrimination against their common employer. 

To review the EBG Act Now Advisory on this issue, click here.