At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last month, one panel discussion focused on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) recent activity and enforcement priorities. Among the panelists were Corrado Gigante, Director of the Newark Area Office of the EEOC, and Gibbons Directors, Christine Amalfe, Kelly Ann Bird and Susan Nardone.
Author: Susan L. Nardone
On Wednesday, April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Community issued its long awaited Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, updating and clarifying its prior guidance on the subject. The good news? Employers may continue to use criminal background checks as a screening tool for applicants and employees. However, employers are specifically discouraged from asking about a criminal record on the application and are encouraged to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant/employee when job exclusion occurs because of a criminal record. Employers should review their policies to ensure compliance with the EEOC’s latest recommendations.
Third Circuit Finds That Failing to Produce Original Documents May Constitute Sanctionable Spoliation
Although in recent years employers have become increasingly focused on the preservation, discovery and production of electronically-stored information, the Third Circuit’s January 4, 2012 decision in Bull v. United Parcel Service serves as a reminder to companies that original documents can and often do play a critical role in employment litigation matters. The preservation and discovery of originals should not be overlooked. Employers should be certain to both request original documents in discovery (and pursue their production through motion practice as necessary) and take necessary steps to preserve originals when litigation is threatened or commenced.
On August 17, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rendered its decision in McKenna v. City of Philadelphia, the first significant cat’s paw theory case out of the Third Circuit since the United States Supreme Court’s March 2011 decision in Staub v. Proctor Hospital, which was the subject of a previous Employment Law Alert post. The Staub decision addressed the circumstances under which an employer can be held liable for the discriminatory or retaliatory animus of a nondecisionmaker – often referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory. The primary issue in McKenna was whether an intervening act between the alleged retaliatory conduct and the employee’s termination – a hearing before a neutral board – was sufficiently independent to break any causal link between the allegedly retaliatory act and the employment action. Based upon the underlying facts of this particular case, the Court determined that it was not.
New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That Absence of Emotional Distress Damages Award Does Not Preclude Consideration of Punitive Damages
The New Jersey Appellate Division recently held in Rusak v. Ryan Automotive, LLC that a plaintiff was entitled to further proceedings on her punitive damages claim following a jury verdict in her favor on her hostile work environment and retaliation claims even though the jury did not award her emotional distress damages and rejected her separate intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Although the case involved unique circumstances that are unlikely to be present in future matters, the decision serves as a reminder that the absence of an emotional distress award does not preclude further proceedings on punitive damages.