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Sexual Harassment

- An employee can pursue her sexual harassment claim against her company even though she never reported the problem, a federal appeals court has ruled. The court ruled that because the employee’s supervisor took actions indicating that he knew about the harassment, he could not later claim ignorance.

Religious Discrimination

- An employee who was fired for repeatedly violating her company’s overtime policy may not sue for religious discrimination, according to a federal appeals court. The employee, a conservative Christian, claimed that her employer took action against her because of her condemnation of homosexuals.

Senate Hearing Weighs Closing Video Surveillance Loophole

- Lawmakers examined whether a decades-old wiretapping statute needs revision in light of a suburban Philadelphia high school that allegedly used a webcam to spy on a student.

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Background Screening Case

- The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a background screening case in which 28 contract employees claim that the government’s screening policy is too intrusive.

Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee claiming she was fired for her traditional Christian beliefs may not sue her employer for discrimination. The employee repeatedly violated the company’s overtime policy, even after repeated warnings. The court ruled that the employee was fired for failing to meet the legitimate business expectations of her employer.

Regulations

- The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act imposes new privacy requirements for businesses that access medical records. Two recent surveys (here and here) found that many affected by the act were still unprepared to comply.

ADA

- A teacher may pursue her lawsuit against her employer for failure to accommodate her depression according to a federal appeals court. The court ruled that the school had a duty to pursue accommodation after the teacher provided a doctor’s statement that the depression was linked to a lack of windows in the teacher’s classroom.

Medical Exams

- An employee may pursue a lawsuit against her employer after a medical examination led to her termination, a federal appeals court has ruled. The case concerns the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of job-specific physical agility tests to determine whether an employee can perform a certain job.

Disability

- A California appeals court has ruled that a woman who was granted accommodations by her employer for her disability was discriminated against after a new manager removed those accommodations. The employee was awarded $200,000 for lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress.

Age Discrimination

- An employee’s innocence of an offense for which he was fired is irrelevant so long as the employer believed that the accusation was true and acted in good faith, a federal appeals court has ruled. In the case, an employee was fired for accessing pornography at work. The employee sued his company, alleging that his age—he was 57 years old at the time—was the real reason he was fired.

Appeals Court Finds Taser-Wielding Police Officer Used Excessive Force During Traffic Stop

- An appellate court last week ruled a local California police officer violated the constitutional rights of an unarmed, passive man when he tased him after a routine traffic stop.

Elsewhere in the Courts: ADA

- A federal district court has ruled that an employee with a history of unpredictable low-blood sugar is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court ruled that the employee’s condition, which could result in threatening and abusive behavior, posed a direct threat to the health and safety of other employees. (Onken v. McNeilus, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, No. 08-CV-2003, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Discrimination

- The highest court in Massachusetts has affirmed $973,000 in compensatory damages and restored $1 million in punitive damages in a sexual discrimination case brought by a Wal-Mart pharmacist. The pharmacist, Cynthia Haddad, was fired after a coworker filed a false prescription while she was taking a break. In her case, Haddad provided evidence that the same coworker filed a false prescription during a male pharmacist’s break but that employee was not disciplined in any way. (Haddad v Wal-Mart, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, No. SJC-10261, 2009)
 




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