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“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

McKenna Employment Bulletin – April 2012


The Ledbetter Act Did Not Apply To Age Discrimination Claim

In Almond v. Unified School Dist. No. 501, 2011 WL 5925312 (10th Cir. 2011), a school district decided to transfer two employees to vacant positions at a lower pay grade. The employees kept their current salary until two years passed and then the salaries decreased. The employees filed suit alleging that their salary reduction was motivated by unlawful age discrimination, not budget necessity. The employees brought their charges in 2006 even though the discrimination they alleged occurred in 2003 and 2004. The employees alleged that the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act aimed at effecting changes to limitations law in the employment discrimination field applied to their case. The Court disagreed.

The Court held that the Act applies only to claims alleging claims of unequal pay for equal work. For the Ledbetter Act to apply, the discrimination in compensation must be unequal pay for equal work. The Court held the Ledbetter Act did not apply because the employees did not contend that they were paid less than others doing the same work.


You Can Put Your Best Qualified Worker Into A Vacant Job

In EEOC v. United Airlines, Inc., 2012 WL 718503 (7th Cir. 2012), the EEOC alleged that the employer violated the ADA because the employer’s policy did not allow for automatic placement into vacant positions for employees whose disabilities precluded them from performing their current jobs. The employer’s policy required the employees to apply for vacant positions for which they were qualified but did not require placement in those positions. The Court held that the employer’s policy of allowing application for a vacant job, as an accommodation for an employee’s disability, does not violate the ADA. The Court held that the ADA does not require employers to reassign disabled employees to vacant positions for which there was a better qualified applicant, as long as the employer had a consistent policy to hire the best applicant for vacant positions.


Court Denies Claim For Reverse Discrimination

In Good v. University of Chicago Medical Center, No. 11-2679 (March 12, 2012, U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Cir.), the plaintiff alleged reverse discrimination under Title VII claiming that the employer terminated the plaintiff on account of her white race. The plaintiff alleged that the employer treated her more harshly than three co-workers of a different race because, even though the plaintiff had demonstrated poor performance in her current job, the employer allowed

similarly poor performing co-workers to be demoted as opposed to terminated. The Court held, however, that the plaintiff failed to link any harsh treatment to her white race. This was because the record showed that the plaintiff’s replacement was white and because the plaintiff failed to show that the employer had anti-white bias or a history of discrimination against white employees.


The Equal Pay Act Requires Equal Salary For Comparable Work

In King v. Acosta Sales and Marketing, Inc., No. 11-3617 (March 13, 2012, U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Cir.), the employee alleged that the defendant paid the plaintiff-female less than what it paid male co-workers doing comparable work in violation of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The Court found that the plaintiff’s action should proceed to trial where the record showed that all but one male comparative co-worker was paid more than females performing the same job, and the employer stated, but failed to articulate, how education and prior experience accounted for large increases in pay given to male, as opposed to female, workers even though female workers had comparable sales figures. The Court held that to prevail the employer must establish that the alleged education and prior experience of the male co-workers accounted for any pay differences between plaintiff and her male comparatives.


Your Employee Must See Or Know Of Alleged Harassment For It To Be Actionable

In Berryman v. SuperValu Holdings, Inc., 2012 WL 593106 (6th Cir. 2012), certain employees filed a Title VII claim alleging a racially hostile work environment. The lower court considered each employee’s claim individually, rather than considering all employees’ claims in a group. The Sixth Circuit held that this was proper and that the lower court properly limited its analysis to events that were either perceived by the particular individual employee or that the employee knew about. The facts were that the individual employees were unaware of the majority of harassment alleged by their fellow employees.


No Age Discrimination Where Employee Was The Same Age When Hired And Fired

In Hansen V. Crown Golf Properties L.P, 2011 WL 5925542 (N.D. Ill. 2011), the employee ran a golf academy at a golf club when he was terminated. The employee alleged violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The employee received an e-mail stating the club could not sustain his salary based on business results. The employee believed he was fired to cut costs as he was the most expensive employee. The employee was the same age as when he was hired and he was hired and fired by the same person. Under these facts, the Court held that the employee was terminated for business reasons, rather than age. 


This Employment Bulletin is intended to provide information of general interest and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their counsel before taking any action based on the information in this publication. All rights reserved. Copyright 2013, McKenna Storer. 

Categories Employment Bulletin Employment Law Publications

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