Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Post Young v. UPS: City of Florence, Kentucky Settles Pregnancy and Disability Lawsuit with Female Police Officers

By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr.

GavelThe City of Florence (“Florence” or “the City”) recently entered into a proposed consent decree, pending court approval, to resolve a discrimination lawsuit the Justice Department filed regarding two City female police officers.  The lawsuit, filed last month, alleges both officers were discriminated against based on pregnancy and disability grounds pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  According to the complaint, Florence female police officers Lyndi Trischler and Samantha Riley requested light duty in 2014 when both were unable to perform their duties as patrol officers due to their pregnancies.  Officer Trischler also suffered from complications resulting from a diagnosed high-risk pregnancy and requested light duty as a reasonable accommodation.

Florence’s light duty policy at the time of Ms. Trischler’s and Ms. Riley’s requests was limited to employees with on-the-job injuries only.  The City also required that employees with non-work related illnesses, injuries, or conditions provide information that establishes they have “no restrictions” prior to returning to work.  Florence denied both officers’ requests and required them to take leave instead.

This was the first lawsuit filed by the Justice Department challenging an entity’s light duty policy following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in last year’s Young v. UPS case.  In Young, UPS had a similar ‘employees injured on the job’ policy as Florence.  Peggy Young was a UPS pickup and Continue reading


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Employee Handbook Review: 6 Topics Employers Should Consider

By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr.

An out-of-date employee handbook that fails to recognize ever-evolving laws and regulations is more harmful than helpful to an employer.  It is important to ensure that your company’s handbook stays current and ‘with the times.’  The following are six employment law topics that should be taken into consideration during your handbook review and revision process:

1. LGBT Protections. Laws, courts, and administrative agencies (State and Federal) continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.  From the EEOC’s perspective, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids any employment discrimination that is Continue reading


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Fate of the $185 Million Pregnancy Discrimination Verdict Against Autozone Revealed: Parties Jointly Move to Dismiss

By Leila G. O’Carra

pregnancy, workOn Monday, July 20, Autozone Stores, Inc. and former employee Rosario Juarez jointly moved to dismiss Juarez’s highly publicized pregnancy discrimination case. Juarez filed suit against Autozone in 2008, claiming that Autozone demoted her and then fired her because of her pregnancy. She also claimed that Autozone harassed her because she was pregnant, and retaliated against her when she complained about the discrimination.

In November 2014, a jury found in Juarez’s favor on all of these claims, and awarded her $879,719.52 in compensatory damages, and an astounding $185,000,000.00 in punitive damages.

Autozone promptly asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of California for a new trial, and to rule that punitive damages could not be awarded against Autozone under the facts presented at trial. Autozone also asked the court to declare a mistrial and sanction Juarez’s attorneys for alleged inappropriate contact with jurors.

According to Autozone’s court filings, Juarez’s trial team communicated with a juror before the trial was over. The juror had been dismissed after the liability phase of the trial, before the punitive damages phase, because Continue reading


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U.S. Supreme Court Sets Forth Test for Evaluating Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

By Michelle High

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), dictates that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same” as other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”  The Act has two sections.  The first section provides that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of pregnancy because it would be sex discrimination and the second section provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability to work.”  The second section of the law has been the source of repeated questions for employers and employees alike.

pregnancyIn Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., a newly released 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has provided a test detailing when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees to extend such accommodations to pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Peggy Young was a driver with UPS.  When she became pregnant, her obstetrician advised her not to lift more than 20 pounds.   Generally, UPS drivers were expected to carry packages of up to 70 pounds, but the company offered accommodations to those injured on the job; those with conditions recognized as Continue reading