Sixth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment Dismissing Plaintiff’s Wage Discrimination Claims

The Sixth Circuit recently upheld a district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing a female plaintiff’s wage discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), Title VII, and Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.  Foco v. Freudenberg-Nole General Partnership, Case No. 12-2174 (November 25, 2013). The appellate court affirmed that the plaintiff had not established a prima facie case, and in any event, the defendant employer had affirmatively proved that any relevant wage differentials were based on factors other than sex. Continue reading

Sixth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Grant of Summary Judgment For Employer On Plaintiff’s Claim of Associational Discrimination Under ADA; Dispute Regarding Due Date For Plaintiff’s Return to Work From Family Medical Leave Was Immaterial As Plaintiff Admitted She Would Not Have Returned To Work On Date She Asserted She Was Due Back

The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed that a plaintiff’s failure to return to work from a family medical leave on the due date established by her employer justified summary judgment in favor of the employer on the employee’s claim of associational discrimination under the ADA.  The plaintiff’s dispute as to her return date was immaterial, and did not prevent summary judgment for the employer, because plaintiff admitted in deposition that she would not have returned by the date she asserted she was due back at work.  Bimberg v. Elkton-Pigeon- Bay Port Laker Schools, 6th Cir. No. 12-1311, 2013 WL 174289 (Jan. 17, 2013).

Plaintiff Bimberg was a school bus driver who took a family medical leave to care for her terminally ill husband.  Bimberg’s employer initially granted her the FMLA-mandated 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  Therafter, Bimberg’s union representative was able to secure for her leave from the beginning of the approaching new school semester, January 5, 2009, until the end of the school year in early June 2009.  However, Bimberg later determined that she needed to leave before the start of the new semester, and that she would be away for more than 12 weeks.  Ultimately, her employer granted her unpaid leave of one year, from December 18, 2008, through December 18, 2009.

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Plaintiff’s Substantial “Credibility Missteps” Render District Court’s Erroneous Admission Of Employer’s Testimony on Ultimate Issue — That There Was No Sexual Harassment — Harmless Error

The Sixth Circuit recently ruled that a plaintiff’s credibility at trial was so “irreparably undermined” that the district court’s erroneous admission of the employer’s evidence on the ultimate issue — that the employer had not engaged in sexual harassment — was harmless error.  Kendel v. Food & Commercial Workers Local 17-A, 6th Cir. No. 12-3409,  WL (January 22, 2013).

Plaintiff Kendel sued the Food & Commercial Workers Local 17-A, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, and Howard Barnes, the former president of Local 17-A, for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.  The district court granted summary judgment for the International. Kendel’s claims against Local 17-A and Barnes proceeded to trial.

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The Sixth Circuit Reverses a District Court’s Summary Judgment that a Deaf Person is not “Otherwise Qualified” to Perform the “Essential Functions” of a Lifeguard

The Sixth Circuit recently decided an interesting case involving the Americans With Disabilities Act — a rare case in which an employer’s hiring decision literally could have life and death consequences.  In Keith v. County of Oakland, 6th Cir. No. 11-2276, 2013 WL 115647 (Jan. 10, 2013), the plaintiff, a deaf person, filed an action alleging that Oakland County, Michigan discriminated against him on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when it refused to hire him as a lifeguard for its wave pool.

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