Category Archives: Employment

QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE NEWS

News camera

Sexual harassment can take various forms in the employment context.  Perhaps the most straightforward example is a situation where an employee is the victim of unwelcome and unwanted sexual advances and/or physical contact.  Another form, called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, has been making headlines this summer after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.

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THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF “BAN THE BOX” LAWS

Handcuffs

Last week, researchers at the University of Michigan and Princeton University released the results of one of the latest studies regarding the effects of so-called “Ban the Box” legislation.  Prior to the legislation, employers could ask applicants about their criminal background as part of the employment application process.  This resulted in substantial barriers to employment for minority applicants, particularly African Americans and Latinos statistically more likely to have been incarcerated or have a criminal record.  It has also, some believe, resulted in prison overcrowding.

Both bad things.

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THE IOWA SUPREME COURT ON UNEMPLOYMENT LAW

Jail cell

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a 57-page opinion in Irving v. Employment Appeal Board.  Sondra Irving appealed a judgment from the district court that affirmed the denial of her unemployment benefits after she was terminated from her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).  Irving was absent from work while she was incarcerated on criminal charges unrelated to her job (which were ultimately dismissed).

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SUPREME COURT VICTORY FOR CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE PLAINTIFFS

Gold scales of justice

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court issued a 7-1 opinion in Green v. Brennan.  Justice Sotomayor authored the majority opinion, which vacated and remanded the Tenth Circuit’s dismissal of Plaintiff Marvin Green’s race discrimination and retaliation complaint on timeliness grounds.

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SO, WHAT DOES MAKE FOR A GOOD EMPLOYEE LAWSUIT?

Checkmark

Last week, our colleague Patrick Smith posted an entry on his employment blog titled, “What Makes for a Good Employee Lawsuit”.  In his blog, Patrick responded to an employment presentation given by Ohio-based attorney Randy Freking.  While the employment attorneys at Babich Goldman primarily represent employees, Patrick primarily represents employers, so his ideas on what he thinks makes a good employee lawsuit caught my eye.  Below are some of Patrick’s thoughts from an employer perspective and some of my thoughts from an employee perspective.

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Classroom

On March 23, the New York Times reported on a sexual harassment and sex discrimination lawsuit filed recently by Enrichetta Ravina against Columbia University.  Ms. Ravina, an assistant professor, worked with another professor at the university to obtain data as part of her research which she hoped would eventually lead to tenure.  The professor had a relationship with the company that held the data and used that relationship to help Ms. Ravina get the data she needed.  Because of that relationship, the professor could also influence the company to revoke Ms. Ravina’s access to the data.  Among other things, Ms. Ravina says that when her research got to where taking the data away would have damaged the project, the professor harassed her and interfered with her research.  According to the lawsuit, the more Ms. Ravina rebuked the professor’s sexual advances, the worse his behavior became.  For its part, Ms. Ravina alleges Columbia ignored and marginalized her complaints, telling her to forget about the research and move on and comparing her situation to a soap opera.

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MERRICK GARLAND ON EMPLOYMENT LAW

Supreme Court

Last week, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the United States Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia.  Garland is the Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served since 1997.  When he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court by President Bill Clinton, he received bipartisan support and was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 76-23.  This confirmation process will undoubtedly be more difficult, with Garland’s appellate record coming under careful scrutiny.  Garland’s record on employment and civil rights cases is of particular interest and importance to the employment attorneys at Babich Goldman.

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