Recent Blog Posts

The Supreme Court Holds That Title VII Imposes Strict Liability on an Employer for Harassment by a Supervisor Only if the Supervisor Has the Power to Take “Tangible Employment Actions”

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court narrowed the circumstances under which an employer can be held strictly liable for the actions of a supervisor in an harassment case.  The case is Vance v. Ball State University (June 24, 2013). In a typical harassment case, one of the key issues is whether the employer is… Read More »

EEOC Wins Landmark Title VII Case on Breast Feeding and Lactation

The Fifth Circuit issued a landmark decision in a sex discrimination case involving breast feeding and lactation in EEOC v. Houston Funding II, Ltd. (5th Cir. May 30, 2013).  The Fifth Circuit held that discrimination based on an employee’s post-childbirth lactation is prohibited by Title VII, but expressed doubt about whether, as the law existed… Read More »

Fifth Circuit: Volunteer Firefighters Are Not “Employees” Under Title VII

In a case of first impression, the Fifth Circuit considered whether voluntary firefighters are “employees” for purposes of Title VII in Juino v. Livingston Parish Fire District No. 5 (5th Cir. May 30, 2013).  The Fifth Circuit held that volunteer firefighters are not covered by Title VII. The plaintiff was a volunteer firefighter who claimed that… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Case Involving LSU

The Fifth Circuit considered an appeal from a summary judgment in a case involving clander discrimination and retaliation.  The case is Haire v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University (5th Cir. May 21, 2013). The plaintiff was an LSU police officer.  She applied for the vacant position as chief of police.  LSU installed an “interim”… Read More »

Texas Adopts the Uniform Trade Secrets Act

Historically, trade secret issues in Texas were a matter of common law.  As previously discussed on this blog, the Texas legislature finally considered adopting the Uniform Trade Secrets Act this year.  The proposed Act is quoted in the prior blog article. The legislature passed the Act, and the governor signed it into law on May… Read More »

Dallas Court of Appeals: The Texas Workforce Commission’s Improper Processing of a Charge of Discrimination Is Not a Jurisdictional Bar to Suit

The processing of a Charge of Discrimination by the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission can present a number of vexing issues in employment discrimination cases.  The Dallas Court of Appeals addressed one of these issues in Dallas County Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences and Medical Examiner Department v. Ray (published opinion dated May 16,… Read More »

McAllen Federal Court Finds Direct Evidence of Race and Sex Discrimination Against a White Applicant

Judge Michaela Alvarez of the Southern District of Texas decided a motion for summary judgment case involving allege race discrimination and sex discrimination in Fischer v. City of Donna, No. 7:12-CV-242 (May 14, 2013). The plaintiff, who is a white female, applied for the position as city manager of Donna, Texas.  She was not hired.  Instead,… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Rejects Title VII Claims Based on Public Displays of Affection by Co-Workers

The Fifth Circuit considered sex discrimination and retaliation claims in Kummerle v. EMJ Corp., No. 12-10869 (5th Cir. May 16, 2013) (unpublished).  In affirming the district court’s dismissal of the case, the Fifth Circuit offered an analysis that may be disturbing to plaintiffs. The facts are simple.  The plaintiff’s male supervisor and a female co-worker… Read More »

Houston Federal Court Issues Rulings Concerning Notice in an FLSA Collective Action

The Fair Labor Standards Act governs claims for unpaid overtime.  The FLSA also allows for the certification of a collective action, which is a form of class action in which multiple employees can join as plaintiffs.  As part of the collective action process, the court authorizes a notice that is sent to prospective class members. … Read More »

The EEOC Issues Guidance for Mental Health Providers in Reasonable Accommodation Cases

The EEOC has jurisdiction over claims for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Many cases under the ADA involve an employer’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee. In the case of mental disabilities, the reasonable accommodation issue can often be difficult because the nature of many mental disabilities (such as… Read More »