Close Menu
Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer
  • Employment
  • Civil Rights
  • Healthcare
Florida 561-653-0008 California 213-377-5200
Helping You Navigate Workplace Issues in Florida and California
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus
  • Youtube
  • Yelp
  • Instagram

11th Circuit Update: Discrimination, National Origin, FMLA

Erika Jacobs v Tricia Biando, Liberty Tax, Kristy Freitas, et al., ____F.3d____ (11th Cir. November 24, 2014).

Brief Summary: Employee filed an amended complaint asserting Title VII claims, as well as various state law claims against her employer. The district court dismissed the amended complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

In Jacobs, the Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against her employer alleging racially discriminatory discharge, and racially hostile work environment and retaliation, pursuant to Title VII. In addition, the Plaintiff asserted claims under the Equal Pay Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Eleventh Circuit held that, the amended complaint failed to “suggest intentional racial discrimination,” because the Plaintiff failed to allege that the reason her employer mistreated her and ultimately fired her was because she was African American.   In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that Title VII prohibits only discrimination, and is not a “general civility code” or a “shield against harsh treatment in the workplace.” The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the amended complaint without prejudice.

Charlette Jackson v. United Parcel Services, Inc., ____F.3d____ (11th Cir. November 20, 2014)

Brief Summary: Employee filed a claim for gender and racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. §1981. The district court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

In Jackson, the Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §1981. Specifically, her complaint involved allegations of race and gender discrimination with regard to promotions. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, as it pertained to the Plaintiff’s discrimination claim because the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the employer’s proffered reason for not promoting her, the untimeliness of her application, was pretextual. Further, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff’s evidence failed to rebut the employer’s legitimate non-discriminatory reason for not promoting her, because there was no evidence proffered by the Plaintiff addressing her failure to comply with the employer’s requirement of submitting a letter of interest prior to being included in the applicant pool. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court’s granting of summary judgment as to the Plaintiff’s retaliation claim was proper, as the Plaintiff failed to establish causation between the filing of her EEOC charge against her employer and its decision to deny her the promotion. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the nine month gap between the two events were too far removed to infer awareness upon the employer and the Plaintiff offered no evidence contradicting the decision maker’s testimony that he was unaware of the Plaintiff’s EEOC charge. Finally, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff’s failure to survive summary judgment under Title VII was also fatal to her §1981 claim, which was properly dismissed by the district court.

Thomas W. Holmes v. Alabama Board of Pardons & Paroles, et al., ____F.3d____ (11th Cir. November 13, 2014)

Brief Summary: Employee appealed grant of summary judgment to his employer, in his suit alleging violations of Title VII, when his employer failed to offer a promotion. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

In Holmes, the Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge claiming race and gender discrimination with regard to his employer’s failure to promote him to a Senior Officer position as well as age discrimination in failing to promote him to a District Manager position. Upon receipt of a right to sue letter, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging “failure-to-promote” claims pertaining to both Senior Officer and District Manager positions. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff failed to rebut the employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for not promoting him. Further the Eleventh Circuit held that the employer proffered two reasons for its decision not to promote the Plaintiff, his disciplinary record and specialization in another field of work, and the Plaintiff’s assertions in rebuttal that the officers receiving promotions were less qualified was insufficient to demonstrate pretext. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff failed to offer any additional information about the Plaintiff’s comparators except that they had a disciplinary record or performed analogous work and did not show they were “similarly situated” to him in all respects. Therefore the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the Plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the employer’s reasons were false and a pretext for discrimination. Finally, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff failed to exhaust his race-based failure to promote claim with the EEOC, because this claim alleged an act that occurred after the Plaintiff filed his EEOC charge. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff’s communications with the EEOC emphasized only age discrimination with regard to District Manager promotions, and not race discrimination. Therefore, the Plaintiffs race discrimination claim as to the District Manager position was outside the scope of the Plaintiff’s EEOC charge and the district court properly declined to consider such a claim. Finally, the Eleventh Circuit held that summary judgment was properly granted with regard to the race discrimination claim as the Plaintiff failed to present any evidence that he was eligible for the promotion.

Jianxin Fong v. School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, et al., ____F.3d____ (11th Cir. November 4, 2014)

Brief Summary: Employee appealed district court’s grant of summary judgment on her Title VII claim of disparate treatment on the basis of national origin. Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

In Fong, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against her employer for disparate treatment on the basis of her national origin pursuant to Title VII. The Plaintiff was hired as a math teacher (contract basis) at a struggling, “D” rated school. The principal observed the Plaintiff’s teaching methods and advised her that the students could not understand her because of she had a “very strong accent.” In addition, the principal and other administrative staff expressed concern to the Plaintiff regarding her classroom management abilities. Ultimately, the Plaintiff was advised that she, along with five other employees, would not have their teaching contracts renewed. When the Plaintiff asked the principal regarding the reason for the nonrenewal, he advised her that she was “not fit for this school.” The Eleventh Circuit held that the Principal’s statements regarding the Plaintiff’s accent did not constitute “blatant” remarks “whose intent could mean nothing other than to discriminate on the basis of” the Plaintiff’s national origin. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the principal had a legitimate interest in ensuring that the Plaintiff’s students were able to understand her in the classroom and it could be reasonably inferred that the principal’s statements were nothing more than an observation of a fact regarding her ability to effectively communication with her students. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the employer’s articulated reasons, that the Plaintiff’s work performance was not needed for the school and her style of teaching was not the best method to engage the students and increase student achievement, were legitimate and non-discriminatory. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff’s proffer of an affidavit of another teacher who disagreed with the principal’s assessment of the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff’s assertion that the principal was not “fair minded,” were not sufficient and failed to demonstrate that the articulated reasons for not renewing her teaching contract were a pretext for unlawful discrimination.

Zaneta (Joi) Rainey Lightfoot v. Henry County School District, ____F.3d____ (11th Cir. November 10, 2014)

Brief Summary: The Plaintiff filed a lawsuit for alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA). The Plaintiff appealed the district court’s finding that the school district was an “arm of the state” and therefore immune from suit, as well as the dismissal of the Plaintiff’s ADA retaliation claim. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the immunity decision and affirmed the dismissal of the ADA retaliation claim.

In Zaneta, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit for alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA). The district court held that the School District was an “arm of the state” and immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment. The district court also dismissed the Plaintiff’s ADA retaliation claim. The Eleventh Circuit held that because state law provided the school district a significant amount of autonomy, and the school district was locally operated and controlled and had the ability to raise local funds for operational expenses and salaries, it was not an “arm of the state.” In sum, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s decision and concluded that the school district was not entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Plaintiff’s complaint failed to put the school district on notice that her ADA retaliation claim was based upon her request for FMLA leave. The Eleventh Circuit held that general allegations in the complaint merely supported the Plaintiff’s FMLA retaliation count, however, it did not put the school district on notice that they also pertained to her ADA retaliation count. Therefore, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the Plaintiff’s ADA retaliation claim.

  • Jupiter Map 250 South Central Blvd. | Suite 104-A
    Jupiter, FL 33458
  • West Palm Beach Map 101 Northpoint Parkway
    West Palm Beach, FL 33407
    (Appointment Only)
  • Burbank Map 3900 W. Alameda Ave. | Suite 1200
    Burbank, CA 91505
    (WeWork Offices)
Florida 561-653-0008 California 213-377-5200
* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from www.floridalaborlawyer.com

MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2016 - 2017 Scott Wagner & Associates, P.A. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.