LGBTQ workers are entitled to the full protections of our nation’s laws. If the Supreme Court rules that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it will create an arbitrary and painful carve-out to the landmark civil rights law, leaving LGBTQ workers vulnerable to discrimination and harassment on the job. The Impact Fund and our allies urge the Court to adopt a uniform, protective standard that will fulfill Title VII’s promise of equal employment opportunity for all.
Along with Disability Rights Advocates and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the Impact Fund has written an amicus brief urging the California Supreme Court to recognize that turning users away through discriminatory terms of service or other actions is illegal discrimination, and that users who are deterred by discriminatory terms should be able to bring legal claims in court.
The heightened and burdensome standard for ascertainability articulated by Sotelo and applied in Noel v. Thrifty Payless, Inc. will prevent meritorious employment class actions and undermine workers’ rights. This result is at odds with California’s strong public policies favoring the class mechanism and the robust enforcement of workers’ rights.
Our brief highlights the role afforded to courts to intervene and address the conduct of counsel and parties in litigation. This historical role is especially important in litigation connected to the workplace, where the power imbalance between employers and employees presents unique threats to the rights of employees in the form of coercion and retaliation.
EerieAnna (27) and Carol (42) have identified as female since they were young children, and they have both undergone hormone therapy, psychological care, and the legal processes to change their names and genders. When they tried to undertake sex reassignment surgery, however, their health insurance carriers, managed by Iowa’s state Medicaid program, denied them coverage
Sworn statements explained how women at Microsoft are undervalued in comparison to men, are denied opportunities that men receive, are left out of important meetings, and work in a sexualized environment in which male employees stare at women’s breasts, grope them, and comment on their bodies and clothes. One woman explained the pressure that she and other women feel to “hit the sweet spot between being perceived as ‘too timid’ or ‘overly passionate’ and ‘too harsh’ in Microsoft’s male-dominated culture.” Her male manager lowered performance ratings for her and the team of women she supervised because he believed they did not “smile enough.”
Standing is like a light switch; a plaintiff has either alleged an identifiable injury or not. The concept of Article III standing is used by the courts to distinguish between a dispute that is properly before the court, rather than an abstract interest intended to be addressed by the legislature. Given this, the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have consistently held that a minimal injury is sufficient to confer standing and have never weighed one’s injury relative to their resources.
As explained in the amicus brief, that decision was an unwarranted departure from well-established precedent that differences between state consumer protection laws do not defeat predominance of common questions as to the defendant’s uniform misconduct. This precedent has facilitated nationwide class action settlements both within the Ninth Circuit and sister circuits for years. As the Impact Fund and their fellow amici explained, “Litigation is costly and time-consuming for plaintiffs, defendants, and the court system alike,” which has led to a “strong judicial policy” in favor of settlements. Contravening this policy, the divided majority panel “added requirements and shifted burdens” that would unfortunately operate to prevent settlement of nationwide claims.
A fair workplace, free from discrimination, is an American ideal. Many of our nations F500 companies reflect this value in their forward-facing materials and practices, but sadly, at the contractual level with workers, the promise of an even playing field gets tilted…
That’s why, on August 17, 2017, together with NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA.
Last month, Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center appealed the Secretary’s denial of the petition to the Federal Circuit, arguing in part that the denial of coverage for sex reassignment surgeries is sex discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. We agree. Standing in solidarity, we have authored an amicus brief.
On March 2, 2017, Impact Fund filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which at the time was poised to be the first of the transgender access cases to be heard in the Supreme Court. Our brief supports Gavin Grimm, a 17-year old high school student in Gloucester County, Virginia. Gavin is challenging a local school board policy that prohibits transgender students from using the sex-segregated facilities (such as restrooms) that are consistent with their gender identity. The policy is similar to North Carolina’s notorious H.B. 2 legislation and equally discriminatory.
Earlier this year, the North Carolina legislature passed a sweeping anti-LGBT bill, H.B. 2, which requires public schools and agencies to discriminate against transgender people by prohibiting them from using sex-segregated restrooms according to their gender identity. Plaintiffs Joaquín Carcaño, the ACLU of North Carolina, and others filed a lawsuitchallenging H.B. 2 as unlawful discrimination against transgender individuals under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
In a unanimous decision this morning, the California Supreme Court affirmed that attorneys’ fees in a class action may be calculated as a percentage of the common fund created by a settlement or judgment. Laffitte v. Robert Half Int’l, S222996 (August 11, 2016).
In determining the appropriate percentage, the trial court may -- but is not required to – conduct a lodestar cross-check. The trial court also has the discretion, in the first instance, to determine which fee calculation methodology to use (i.e. common fund or lodestar-multiplier) in any particular case. The decision has a useful discussion of the history and criticisms of each method.
Imagine receiving a notice from the IRS that your long-awaited tax refund has been withheld by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) because you were once paid Social Security benefits and SSA has identified a benefit overpayment that occurred over a decade ago — or one of your parents was once paid Social Security benefits on your behalf over a decade ago and SSA identified an overpayment. If the withheld amount was $2,100, would you go out and find an attorney to represent you in an individual case against the SSA?
It's a fact of life that long-awaited vacations can sometimes be spoiled by an ill-timed rain storm, lost luggage, or a bad reaction to that local street food. But discrimination?
Plaintiffs Ann Cupolo-Freeman, Ruthee Goldkorn, and Julie Reiskin use wheelchairs for mobility and were denied equal access to hotel transportation services at hotels owned by Defendant Hospitality Properties Trust (“HPT”).
Victor Guerrero applied twice for employment as a Corrections Officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”). Both of his applications were subject to a multi-step review process, one step of which was a background investigation questionnaire. Since 2009, the background investigation questionnaire has included the following question: “Have you ever had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire?” This question, known as Question 75, exclusively eliminated Latino applicants—including Mr. Guerrero—from the review process. Mr. Guerrero filed suit, alleging Question 75 has a disparate impact on Latino applicants.
When the Supreme Court issued its ruling last spring in Mach Mining v. EEOC, 135 S. Ct. 1645 (2015), employer representatives gleefully claimed victory for the strategy of defeating cases on the grounds that the EEOC did not properly conciliate before filing the lawsuit.
The Second Circuit’s decision today in EEOC v. Sterling Jewelers, No. 14-1782 (2d Cir. Sept. 9, 2015) suggests that the victory dance may have been premature. The court reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment for the agency’s alleged failure to conduct a sufficient investigation before filing suit. Relying on Mach Mining, the panel held that the district court may only consider whether the EEOC investigated, not whether the investigation was sufficient.