Monthly Archives: January 2013

EEOC Claims Steady, Litigation Slows

The EEOC released claims and litigation data for its most recent year. The result: discriminations charges trended slightly lower, while litigation nose-dived.

The agency fielded nearly 100,000 complaints for retaliation and discrimination. The number was down slightly from 2011. However, the EEOC only filed 122 lawsuits during the same time, less than haf the 2011 figure. Its total recovery in litigation was also halved, bringing in only $44.2 million, compared with $91 million the year before.

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NLRB Challenges Begin

After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ surprising ruling last week, several aggrieved employers have argued that NLRB decisions against them are invalid.

At least two employers cited the D.C. Circuit case this week in filings with other federal appeals courts. As it’s been over a year since the NLRB started issuing arguably invalid decisions, there is plenty of room for employers to argue that any NLRB action against them is void. Those decisions could include many of the recent issues addressing social media use by employees.

Concrete resolution will almost certainly come in some form, whether in an appeal or rehearing of the entire D.C. Circuit Court. Until then, however, the NLRB’s decisions will remain open to attack.

Obama NLRB Appointments Unconstitutional

In a surprisising opinion released Friday, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that three of President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board violated the Constitution. The appeals court held that Obama made the recess appointments when Congress wasn’t actually in “recess.”

The ruling creates a potentially messy situation, effectively invalidating every decision the NLRB has reached since January 2012. It would also completely stop current NLRB business as it technically can’t act because it lacks three duly appointed members.

The government has vowed to appeal the case, which has far broader implications in recess appointments, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fired Teacher Sues Claiming Fear of Kids

In other Ohio news this week, a fired teacher has sued her former school district for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act based on her fear of children.

The teacher, who taught high-school Spanish and French, was transferred to a middle school after the school district revamped the curriculum. She claimed the transfer, and general presence of middle-school students, caused her anxiety and blood pressure to soar to dangerous levels because of her pedophobia, or fear of young children. She sought a transfer back to the high school, but ended up retiring.

Stay tuned for the outcome.

Veganism as Religion?

It’s possible, according to a federal court in Ohio.

A nurse in Ohio claimed her sincerely held belief in veganism justified her refusal of a flu vaccine her employer, a hospital, required of all employees. She was fired after refusing the vaccine, which contains animal by-product. The lawsuit claims her firing violated Title VII based on her religious beliefs.

The court refused to dismiss the lawsuit after the employer argued that veganism isn’t a religion. The judge said it’s possible as long as the conviction is sincerely held with the strength of religious views.

But it’s also important not to read too much into the ruling: the merits of case, including any evidence of a legitimate basis for the vaccine requirement, must still be presented at trial.

14-Year Sexual Harassment Case Ends

In what was surely a nightmare for everyone involved, the nation’s largest Burger King franchisee has settled a 14-year-long lawsuit brought by the EEOC alleging a pattern of sexual harassment throughout its 572 stores.

The case, which began in 1998, expanded to include 90,000 current and former employees. It then got reduced to about 500 employees, then to just under 100, all of which would require separate trials in federal court.

The franchisee will pay $2.5 million to settle the claims and provide additional training.