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Recent Rulings: Discrimination

Cole v. North American Breweries, Inc., Case No. 1:13-CV-236 (S.D. Ohio January 20, 2015), a federal judge held that a female employee paid “shockingly less” than her male counterparts for similar work could proceed to trial after her former employer moved to dismiss the case.  In this case, a female employee who had a substantially similar educational background, similar experience, and even more job responsibilities was paid substantially less than her male counterparts.

 The company claimed that because her background wasn’t specifically in beer marketing, but rather in music marketing, her experience justified her lower pay.  The court, however, did a detailed analysis of her pay versus that of five other employees in the same position and found that the disparities were much greater when gender was taken into account.  Read the Order & Opinion here

Gaillard v. Southwestern Conn. Agency on Aging, Inc.:  Court ruled that a person with chronic knee pain and who had two surgeries in two years was disabled within the meaning of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.  The employee had asked the employer to provide accommodations but the employer refused.  The employer’s motion to dismiss the case was denied.

A Connecticut court recently held that a worker who was fired immediately after returning to work after suffering a heart attack should not have his case dismissed. In Dwyer v. Waterfront Enterprises, Inc., (July 31, 2014) the court held that the worker had put forth sufficient evidence to show that he may have been discriminated against. The employer argued that the case should be dismissed because the position was simply eliminated due ti lack of work. The employee, however, was able to show that in fact, the company did hire someone else to do some of his job duties and that the employer had given inconsistent explanations for his termination.

 In Castelluccio v. IBM Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100058 (D. Conn. July 23, 2014), a U.S. Magistrate Judge declined to invalidate an approximately $2.5 million dollar jury verdict against IBM in an age discrimination case.  The plaintiff, who had worked for IBM for 40 years, was summarily terminated by his supervisor.  She made various comments about his age and refused to help him find another position in the organization after removing him from two positions and replacing him with younger workers.  The court held that the jury's verdict was justified given the supervisor's egregious efforts to exclude the plaintiff from subsequent opportunities. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently held that the Connecticut law prohibiting discrimination (the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act) protects employees from hostile work environments based on their sexual orientation.  After a trial in which an employee was awarded $94,000 in damages after suffering such harassment for almost 15 years, the employer appealed and argued that the conduct that the employee complained about was not covered by the Act.  The Supreme Court disagreed and held that the employee, who had been called names repeatedly and suffered emotional distress, had properly won his trial.  

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled (in a case handled by Attorney Hayber) that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) requires employers to accommodate disabled employees.  While the language of that statute did not expressly include this requirement, the Court interpreted it as though it did so as to advance the broad remedial goal of the statute.  The Court further held that employers must engage employees in an interactive process, or discussion, about the disability in order to comply with their obligations under the law and may not discharge an employee without first doing so.  Finally, the court held that employer policies that require that employees be fully healed before returning to work after an injury are illegal to the extent that they prevent disabled workers who could be accommodated from returning to work. 

Curry v. Allan S. Goodman, Inc., 286 Conn. 390.  

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