A recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Case highlighted an example of the uncommon, unique, and potentially high-risk nature of religious accommodations in the workplace. In U.S. EEOC v. Consol Energy, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10385 (4th Cir.), a longtime employee and evangelical Christian retired under protest after his religious beliefs conflicted with his employer's new time keeping system, and their unwillingness to accommodate his religious objections to it. A jury found the employer discriminated against the employee and awarded him almost half a million dollars in damages.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' landmark decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana (Case No. 15-1720), which established that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination on the issue of sexual orientation, may be an indication that the Courts are willing to adopt much more inclusive positions towards gay workers and may, as well, keep moving in that same direction with regard to transgender employees. It is quite clear from a review of print and social media that LGBT advocates are becoming much more aggressive in the challenging of perceived discrimination in the workplace. Clearly, the Legal Basis behind the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in Hively could also be used in future Cases to widen the scope of protection for transgender workers.
In what will certainly be considered a landmark appellate court decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College yesterday concluding that individuals can bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By a vote of 8-3, the Court held that discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation" (which is not explicitly listed as a protected class under Title VII) is equivalent to discrimination on the basis of "sex" (which is listed as a protected class).
Most people are aware of the EEOC's recent and highly publicized position that discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC's position has been applauded by LGBT advocates who have been unable to get Congress to amend Title VII to include sexual orientation as a protected class. Despite the EEOC's position, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a professor's sexual orientation claim under Title VII. And while the Court felt handcuffed by precedent concerning sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII, it did not hold back in addressing the inconsistencies of such precedent. The Court implicitly urged the Supreme Court and/or Congress to resolve these inconsistencies in a way that would protect individuals from sexual orientation discrimination in employment.
On August 1, 2013, a Northern District of Iowa district court judge awarded CRST Van Expedited with possibly the largest attorneys' fees and costs award ever levied against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The award, totaling $4,189,296.10 in attorneys' fees and $505,146.04 in costs, came at the end of a grueling six-year battle with the EEOC over the agency's sexual harassment claims.
On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court in Vance v. Ball State University handed down a sweeping decision favorable to employers that limits who may be considered a "supervisor" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
How many times does a business look at employee relationships before terminating that employee? What about discussing with each supervisor whether or not the individual verbally made a complaint about the pay structure or their pay before terminating the individual? Probably never, but after 2011 it must review those issues every time!