Courts are split over whether the FMLA permits suits against supervisors in the public sector. A District Court found that a postal worker with a knee problem could sue the Postmaster General and his supervisor individually.
The DOL regulations say that once an employer grants FMLA leave, then the employee gets FMLA leave. The Second Circuit now joins the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits holding that an employer may change its mind if it discovers that the employee did not work 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
An employee with a spotty attendance record was fired for being out sick. Her leave was not FMLA protected because she did not tell her employer that her absence was due to depression until litigation started.
A woman claimed pregnancy discrimination against a company with fewer than 15 employees as well as a larger company. She claimed that they were joint employers. Although the companies maintained separate bank accounts, management, payroll and tax filings they could be held liable as joint employers because they shared a human resources department.
America West Airlines told employees in a handbook that they could take 12 weeks within any 12 month period. The Airline argued it was a rolling 12 month period. An employee needed a 12 month calendar period. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the handbook was not clear, so whatever method of calculating the 12 month period that helps the employee will be used.
An African American factory worker employed more than 26 years alleged self-defense when fighting with a white co-worker. The Fourth Circuit found no discrimination since both workers were fired for violating the employer’s anti-violence policy.
The University of Pennsylvania had to pay punitive damages for not considering a male coach for women’s crew. Penn argued that it should not be liable for punitive damages because it makes good faith efforts to comply with Title VII. The Third Circuit holds that punitive damages stick because Penn failed to help ensure that the jury was properly instructed.
The D.C. Circuit has found that obscene expressions made by a male employee to another male employee “have no connection whatsoever with the sexual acts to which they make reference.” Such vulgar acts do not constitute discrimination because of sex. The acts were a “rancorous” workplace dispute.
A gay man brought a sexual harassment claim under Title VII, alleging that he was harassed because he did not fit the stereotype of a man. The court found that eight nonviolent incidents over 30 months was not enough to prove unlawful sexual harassment.
A $1 million jury award was reduced to $200,000 by the trial judge. The Eighth Circuit holds that is still too high since the employer was not found to be acting with “malice or reckless indifference.”