Employee Rights Short Takes: Age Discrimination, Constructive Discharge and More

Here's a few Short Takes worth sharing:

Supervisor Liability

 Payne v. U.S. Airways, Inc. (Reprinted from Westlaw with permission of Thomson Reuters) :The Court held, in a matter of first impression, that a former employee's supervisor was an agent of the employer and individually liable for sexual harassment under the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act. While the opinion only pertains to Vermont, the language may be helpful in states with similar statutes.

Constructive Discharge

Klein v. Raytheon Co(Reprinted from Westlaw with permission of Thomson Reuters): A California federal judge allowed a constructive discharge lawsuit to proceed based on a physics engineer's claim that his supervisor told him his mental disability was a "load of crap". His supervisors also called him a "liar," "thief" and "fraud", threatened to strip him of his security clearance, and told him that he would never be able to work in the aerospace industry again.

The Court rejected Raytheon's motion to dismiss the suit on the grounds that harsh or threatening language used in a single instance is insufficient to support a constructive discharge claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. There aren't many cases that address the "single instance/incident" argument, so this one helps.

 

Age Discrimination

Law Firm Sued By EEOC For Age Discrimination: The EEOC filed a suit against the  New York law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren claiming that it significantly underpays attorneys who practice law past age 70 compared to similarly productive younger attorneys in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Here's the complaint. It's not the first time law firms have been in trouble for age discrimination. The EEOC got a whopping $27.5 million dollar consent decree in a similar case against the Sidly Austin law firm in 2007.

Sexual Harassment

King v. McMillan: The Fourth Circuit affirmed a jury award to the plaintiff of $50,000 in compensatory damages on her Title VII sexual harassment claim, $175,000 on her sexual assault/battery claim (remitted to $50,000) and $100,000 in punitive damages. It's a very helpful case to read regarding evidentiary questions and jury instructions for those involved in cases of both sexual harassment and battery. It's also helpful on the issue of punitive damages.

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