Tag Archives: EEOC

Seventh Circuit Rejects EEOC’s Argument That All Employee Medical Information Revealed Through “Job-Related” Inquiries Are Protected by the ADA’s Confidentiality Provisions

In EEOC v. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (2012), a former employee alleged that his former employer revealed his medical information to prospective employers in violation of the medical record confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.  The key issue for the Seventh Circuit was whether the medical information alleged to have been revealed by the former employer was obtained from “medical examinations and inquiries” of the former employee as set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d).  In holding that the information was not obtained from “medical examinations and inquiries,” the Court found that the former employer had no duty to treat its knowledge of such information as a confidential medical record and affirmed the district court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the former employer.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court found that the word “inquiries” did not refer to generalized inquiries, but instead only to medical inquiries.  The Court also explained that other courts have required – at a minimum, that the employer already know something was wrong with the employee before initiating the interaction in order for that interaction to constitute a 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B) inquiry.  Because the former employer did not have any such knowledge in this case, its communication with the former employee was not an inquiry for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B).

For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070,www.jmlaw.net, or jmccollum@jmlaw.net.

EEOC Retaliation Claims and Security Clearances

Plaintiff, the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Saudi Arabia, filed race and national origin-based discrimination charges against his supervisors with the  United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(“EEOC”). After the charges were filed, one of Plaintiff’s supervisors referred him for a security investigation, maintaining that his connection with Saudi officials had put Plaintiff “inappropriately under the influence of his Saudi counterparts.”  An investigation concluded that the claims underlying his supervisor’s referral were baseless. Plaintiff filed suit under Title VII, claiming that the security referral was made in retaliation for his EEOC complaint. The government filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the retaliation claim was non-justiciable under Department of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988), which held that “employment actions based on denial of security clearance are not subject to judicial review, including under Title VII.”

In its initial decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that precedent “shields from review only those security decisions made by the FBI’s Security Division” and “not the actions of thousands of other FBI employees…like [Plaintiff].” The Court of Appeals remanded due to erroneous jury instructions, and particularly permitted the Title VII action against Planitff’s supervisors to go forward to the degree that the referral was premised on factually incorrect or misrepresentative information.

Upon rehearing, the Court of Appeals again held that Egan applies only to employees who routinely handle security clearances. In response to the government’s argument that allowing a Title VII action would end security reports that executive employees are required to make under Executive Order 12,968, the Court of Appeals narrowed its prior decision. The Court of Appeals held that Title VII allegations based on “knowingly false” information could advance consistent with Egan. Since some of the claims underlying the supervisor’s referral were false, the Court of Appeals remanded so that the district court could determine whether adequate evidence of knowingly false information existed to allow Plaintiff’s claims to go before a jury.

For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070 or jmccollum@jmlaw.net.

Third-party Retaliation Under Title VII

The Supreme Court held that the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extend to those who claim third-party retaliation.

The wife of Plaintiff filed a gender discrimination claim with the  United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against the subsidiary of a company. Soon after, the company fired Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued for retaliation. The District Court, however, granted summary judgment for the company. The district court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not permit third-party retaliation claims. On appeal the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to sue for retaliation since he had not engaged in any activity protected by the statute.

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding that Plaintiff’s firing stated a claim of unlawful retaliation. The Court held that the “person aggrieved” term used in Title VII incorporates the zone of interest test of the Administrative Procedure Act and that Plaintiff was a “person aggrieved” because Title VII’s purpose is to protect employees from their employers’ unlawful actions.

For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070 or jmccollum@jmlaw.net.

 

EEOC Settles Severe Obesity Case Under the ADA

A nonprofit organization has agreed to pay a severely obese woman $125,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The nonprofit fired the woman, and the EEOC alleged that she was fired because of her severe obesity although she could perform her job.  The EEOC asserted that severe obesity was a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In addition to the financial payment, as part of the settlement, the nonprofit organization will be required will provide annual training on federal disability law to all human resources personnel and corporate directors of its organization.   The nonprofit organization also will report to the EEOC for three years on all complaints of disability discrimination and all denials of a request for reasonable accommodation of a disability.

For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070 or jmccollum@jmlaw.net.