Washington Updates

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Public Policy Committee

The Public Policy Committee recommends to the board of directors positions and priorities on legislative and regulatory issues impacting CUPA-HR members. View the association’s current Public Policy Statement.

HR and the Courts

Recent Legal Rulings

These recent court rulings, summarized by CUPA-HR general counsel Ira Shepard, are applicable to the higher ed workplace.

Icon Legal Watch - April 6, 2016

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Icon Legal Watch - December 16, 2015

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Icon Legal Watch - December 18, 2014

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Icon Legal Watch - December 19, 2013

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Icon Legal Watch - January 17, 2013

  • University CHRO’s First Amendment Retaliation Claim Dismissed
  • Denial of “Light Work” to Pregnant Employee Not a Violation of the Pregnancy Disability Act or ADA
  • Federal Court Rules Veganism May Be a Covered Religion Under Title VII EEOC Regulations
  • Campus Police Officer’s Psychological Disability Raises Federal, State Failure to Accommodate Claims

Icon Legal Watch - December 20, 2012

  • EEOC and Office for Civil Rights Report Substantial Increases in Enforcement Actions in 2012
  • Employer’s Disclosure of Former Employee’s Migraine Headache Condition Not a Breach of ADA Privacy
  • Court Dismisses Age Bias Lawsuit, Holding That Encouraging Early Retirement of Employee With 36 Years on the Job Not Evidence of Age Discrimination in RIF Situation
  • Employee Terminated in RIF Within a Month of Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Notification of Need for FMLA Leave States Triable ADA, FMLA Discrimination Claims
  • Teacher Raises Triable Age Discrimination Claim in Response to Her Discharge for Failure to Pursue a Master’s Degree

Icon Legal Watch - November 15, 2102

  • EEOC Guidance: Include Domestic Violence Awareness Training in Annual Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Training
  • Employee Who Returned From Disability Leave After Aneurysm and Fired 18 Months Later for Poor Performance Fails in Disability and Age Claims
  • Accommodation Not Required Under ADA for a Nondisabled Worker Caring for a Disabled Child
  • Workplace Accommodation May Be Required By ADA and Rehab Acts Despite Employee’s Ability to Perform All Essential Job Functions

Icon Legal Watch - October 18, 2012

2012-13 U.S. Supreme Court Term Opens With University Sex Harassment, Race in Admissions Cases on Docket
College Mailroom Supervisor Obtains $300,000 Verdict in ADA Drug Testing Case
Transgender Job Applicant Fails in Sex Discrimination Case Where There Was No Evidence Decision Maker Knew of Plaintiff’s Protected Status
School District Employee Fails in First Amendment Retaliatory Discharge Claim Where Whistle Blowing Comments Were Job Related and Therefore Not Protected as First Amendment Speech
NLRB Continues to Wrestle With Facebook Firings, Now Ruling That Not All Terminations for Job-Related Facebook Postings Violate the NLRA

Icon Legal Watch - September 20, 2012

Professor’s ADA Accommodation Claim for “Adjustment Disorder and Depression” Fails
Mandatory Psychological Counseling Can Be a Medical Exam Prohibited by the ADA Unless It Is “Job Related”
Coworker “Monkey” Taunt Not Race Neutral, Supports “Hostile Environment” Race Claim By Latino Employee
Teacher’s Criminal Complaint Against Student’s Violent Act Protected by First Amendment, School Administrator Found Individually Liable
NLRB Negates Standard Workplace Investigation “Confidentiality” Best Practice

Icon Legal Watch - August 16, 2012

School District Groundskeeper States Claim for ADA Mental Disability Discrimination and Harassment Where Coworkers Called Him “Forest Gump”
Government Contractor Alleges OFCCP’s Compliance Audits Violate Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure Rules
Federal Jury Awards Teacher $2 Million Damage in ADA Claim of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Agreement to Arbitrate “Pre-Employment” Disputes Ruled Ambiguous and Unenforceable
Court of Appeals Rejects ADA Claim of Hearing Impaired Plaintiff Concluding That Verbal Communication Is an Essential Element of the Job

Icon Legal Watch - July 19, 2012

ADA Discrimination Claim May Proceed Notwithstanding Plaintiff’s Representation to SSA That She Was Totally Disabled
Jury Awards $1.35 Million Verdict Against University That Fired Employee After HIV Test Results
Federal Court Rules Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Is a Covered Disability Under ADA Amendments
Failure to Engage Employee With Epilepsy In an Interactive Process for a Reasonable Accommodation Is Actionable Under ADA

Icon Legal Watch - June 21, 2012

Title VII Does Not Prohibit Employment Discrimination Based on the Citizenship or Immigration Status of Employee’s Spouse
Pregnant Teacher Fired for “Alleged Sin” Has Right to Jury Trial in Discrimination Claim Against Christian School
Employer’s Termination Letter Provides Direct Evidence of Disability Discrimination Under ADA
Campus Police Officer Loses ADA Claim That University Impermissibly Inquired Into the Severity of His Condition and Made His Return to Work Dependent on Taking a Functional Capacity Examination

Icon Legal Watch - May 17, 2012

Court Rules EEOC Not Barred by Legal Ethics Rules From Contacting an Employer’s Former HR Manager
EEOC Rules for First Time That Transgendered Employees Are Protected by Title VII
Disabled Nurse’s Discharge for Excessive Absenteeism Not ADA Violation as Regular Attendance Is Essential Element of Job
Female Law Professor Loses Sex Stereotyping Claim as Court of Appeals Affirms Her Gender-Neutral Termination

Icon Legal Watch - April 19, 2012

Indefinite Leave Request Ruled Not a Reasonable Accommodation Under ADA
Decision Maker’s Age-Related Stray Remarks Enough to Raise Jury Question, Not a “Stray Remark” Within the Meaning of Discrimination Case Law
Arbitrator Reverses Termination of Computer Network Administrator Who Allegedly Accessed E-mails Without Authorization

Icon Legal Watch - March 15, 2012

Federal Court Holds That the Civil Rights Act of 1871 Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Professor With Degenerative Hearing Loss Loses Disability Claims Alleging Tenure Denial and Employment Termination After 15 Years of Service
Title IX, Sexual Harassment Whistleblower Entitled to Trial Over His Termination Allegedly for Reporting Sexual Harassment by His Supervisor
Court of Appeals Concludes That Private Sector Employers Are Liable for Retaliating Against Employees Who Raise an Internal Complaint of an FLSA Violation
U.S. Courts of Appeals Split on Whether ADA Requires the Reassignment of a Disabled Employee to a Vacant Position for Which He or She Is Qualified

Icon Legal Watch - February 16, 2012

Federal Court Rules Title VII Does Not Include Breastfeeding Women as a Protected Class
Supervisors at Public Agencies May Be Liable for FMLA Violations They Effectively Cause
EEOC Reports Record Number of Charges and Money to Discrimination Victims in 2011 – Retaliation and Race Charges Are Most Frequent
ADA Round-Up

Icon Legal Watch – January 18, 2012

Law School Dean Subject to Personal Liability Under Civil Rights Act of 1871 for Alleged Political Discrimination in Faculty Hiring
Employer May Be Liable for Unauthorized Use of Employee’s Twitter and Facebook Accounts
Employee With Migraines Has ADA Claim Dismissed
Jury Awards $7.6 Million to Pathologist Fired for Criticizing Hospital Practices

Icon Legal Watch - December 14, 2011

EEOC Received a Record High of Almost 100,000 Charges in FY 2011 and Continues to Increase Class Action Litigation
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review of Case to Test Constitutionality of Healthcare Law
HR Director’s Statements May Be Direct Proof of Job Bias
Sexist Remarks and Patently Offensive Conduct After an Employee’s Resignation Not a Basis for a Sexual Harassment Claim

Icon Legal Watch - November 16, 2011

Employees’ Use of Personal Laptop to Destroy E-Mails Held in Employer’s Server May be Actionable Under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
Federal Judge Approves Student Worker Class Action FLSA Minimum Wage and Overtime Settlement of $485,000
IRS Issues Guidance on Employer-Issued Cell Phones
Diabetic Employee Requesting Daytime Hours Only Fails to Establish Disability or Failure to Accommodate Under ADA

Icon Legal Watch - October 19, 2011

Flu, H1N1 Not Covered by ADA
DOL, IRS, 11 States Agree to Work Together to Combat Worker Misclassification
IRS Launches Low-Cost Settlement Program for Misclassification Issues
Federal Jury Awards University Employee $1.1 Million in PTSD Discrimination Suit
Appeals Court Dismisses College Custodian’s Claim of Mental Disability Discharge
Federal Court in California Denies Employer’s Discovery of Former Employee’s Personal E-Mail Devices in Defending Wrongful Termination Litigation

Icon Legal Watch - September 14, 2011

ADA Roundup
Federal Jury Awards Women’s Basketball Coach Nearly $730,000 Plus Attorney’s Fees in Title VII and Title IX Damages
Replacement by Computer Program Undercuts Employee’s Age Discrimination Claim
Court Rules Job Applicants Cannot Sue for FLSA Retaliation

Icon Legal Watch - August 17, 2011

California Allows “Me Too” Evidence in Sexual Harassment Case
Constitutional Issues Weigh In on Higher Ed HR Policy
University Prevails in ADA and FMLA Case Against Employee With Breast Cancer
PTSD Does Not Excuse Failure to Timely File ADA Claim of Mental Disability

Icon Legal Watch - July 26, 2011

Appeals Court Upholds That Title VII Damage Cap Applies to Each Plaintiff Not Each Claim and Reduces Damages to $200,000 From $3.45 Million
Demeaning a "Depressed" Employee Is Actionable as Hostile Environment Under the ADA
Public University Ordered to Pay Nearly $365,000 in Damages for Discriminating Against Chinese American Professor

Icon Legal Watch - June 16, 2011

Facebook Firings Continue to Be Contested by NLRB (Now in Non-Union Context)
Bankruptcy Status Not a Protected Class in Private Employers’ Hiring Decisions
Wisconsin’s Controversial Collective Bargaining Changes Invalidated by Court Due to Legislature’s Violation of Open Meetings Law
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Defendants May Recover Attorney Fees for Defending “Frivolous” Civil Rights Cases
University of California, Nurses Agree to New 26-Month Collective Bargaining Agreement Covering Five Hospitals
Pitt Medical Center Quashes EEOC Subpoena
University of Chicago Medical Center, NNU Reach Agreement on Contract Covering 1,200 Nurses

Icon Legal Watch - May 19, 2011

Employer Social Media Policies May Violate Federal, State Labor Laws
Studies Conflict on Health of Public Employee Pension Plans
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Vocational Students Not Employees, Rejecting DOL FLSA Guidelines
Nationwide Class Action Suit Alleging Illegal Background Checks Settles for $2.6 Million
Cal Tech Settles Overtime Class Action Suit for $1.7 Million
Tufts and Nurses Settle Negotiations, Avert Threatened Strike
Class Certification Denied by Court in Pitt Medical Center ADA Lawsuit

Icon Legal Watch - April 21, 2011

Volunteer “Golf Coach” Exempt From Overtime Pay
Court of Appeals Holds Retail Manager Exempt From FLSA Even Though Majority of Work Was on Non-Managerial Duties
Supreme Court Rules Oral Complaints Trigger FLSA Retaliation Rules
EEOC Stresses Importance of Employer Cooperation During Investigations
Class Action Background Check Case Settled for $5.9 Million

Icon Legal Watch - March 23, 2011

OFCCP Expands Full Compliance Reviews - Every 25th Contractor Subject to Review
Despite Recession, Percentages of Older Americans in Workforce at 35-Year High
EEOC May Claim That Absolute Bans on Hiring “Unemployed” Equals Discrimination
“One Strike” Lifetime Ban for Drug Violations Not an ADA Violation
States Consider Applicant and Employee Credit Report Restrictions

Icon Legal Watch – February 24, 2011

EEOC Concentrates on “Systemic Discrimination” Litigation Pay and Promotion Cases of Female Employees
Union Membership Continues to Decline but Teacher Membership Remains High
Severance Benefit Release not Sufficient to Nix Disability Benefit Claim
Fired Fiancé Has Title VII Retaliation Claim
OSU Wins Summary Judgment on Professor’s National Origin and Retaliation Claims

Icon Legal Watch - January 19, 2011

Discrimination Claims Hit Record Level in 2010 With Retaliation Claims Surpassing Race Claims for First Time
Supreme Court Rules Medical Residents Subject to FICA Taxes
Appeals Court Rules That EEOC’s Oral Notice to Claimant That It Issued a Right-to-Sue Letter Not Sufficient to Trigger 90-Day Rule on Filing Suit
Employment Applicant Loses Race and Retaliation Case Against College
Manager Who Spent Only 10-20 Percent of Working Time on Managerial Duties Still Exempt From Overtime