Race/Sex/Religion Discrimination  Articles

New Haven Firefighters Win Reverse Discrimination Claim

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            In a widely anticipated case the U.S. Supreme Court held that New Haven discriminated against a group of white and Hispanic firefighters when it threw out the results of a promotional test that African Americans did poorly on. Ricci v. DeStefano, Nos. 07-1428 and 08-328 (June 29, 2009). In its highly technical 5-4 decision, the Court attempted to balance two requirements of discrimination law; (1) that employers not intentionally discriminate (“disparate treatment”), and (2) that even in the absence of intentional discrimination, employment policies cannot statistically impact any one race adversely (“disparate impact”). By throwing out the tests to avoid being sued for disparate impact by the African American firefighters, New Haven was found to have engaged in disparate treatment discrimination against the white and Hispanic firefighters.

Pay Based Discrimination to be Treated as a Continuing Violation

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            On January 29, 2009 President Obama signed his first piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009. The new law reverses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which held the deadline for filing a pay discrimination charge is measured from the date of the initial discriminatory pay decision. Now the deadline will be measured from the date of any subsequent paycheck received following such discriminatory decision. In effect, the Act recognizes a continuing violation theory that resets the deadline for filing a claim each time an employee receives a paycheck affected by a prior discriminatory decision. This makes it much easier for employees to bring pay discrimination claims.

Employers Not Immune from Suit by Temp Agency Workers

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            Many organizations hire workers through temporary employment agencies in the belief they are protected from suit because they are not the “primary” employer. In most cases, such organizations remain liable under the concept of “joint employment.”

EEOC Changes EEO-1 Race and Job Categories

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            Private employers with 100 or more employees, or those with 50 or more employees and a government contract of at least $50,000, must file an annual EEO-1 form with the EEOC. The filing may be done electronically through the EEOC’s website.

Employees Have 180 Days After Termination to File Connecticut Discrimination Charges

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            The Appellate Court of Connecticut recently ruled that employees have 180 days from their date of termination to file charges of discrimination under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”). Vollemans v. Town of Wallingford, 103 Conn. App. 188 (2007). This contrasts with federal law, which begins the 180 day filing period for Title VII claims on the date the termination decision is unequivocally communicated to the employee.


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