Thursday, August 7, 2014

Racial Discrimination within International Truck and Engine Corporation

In 1996, Matthew Whitfield—an African American—applied for an open electrician position at Navistar’s plant in Indianapolis.  Whitfield was told that he could not be hired because his experience could not be proven.  In 2001, Whitfield along with 26 other Plaintiff’s sued Navistar under Title VII, alleging Navistar discriminated in hiring and maintained a racially hostile work environment.  Under Title VII, employers may not “discriminate against any individual with respect to his . . . privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).
In 2013, the district court dismissed Whitfield’s claim, and ruled that Whitfield’s evidence did not show proof of discrimination.  On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and held that Whitfield satisfied his burden of proof for showing discrimination, and that Whitfield demonstrated that he was more qualified than white comparators.  The court further explained that Whitfield providing proof that his file was labeled with the word “black” was sufficient to determine discrimination.  Whitfield v. Int'l Truck & Engine Corp., 13-1876, 2014 WL 2547772 (7th Cir. June 6, 2014).

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Employee Not Required Give Return To Work Date -FMLA

Susan Gienapp worked at Harbor Crest, a residential nursing care facility in Fulton, Illinois.  In January 2011, Gienapp informed the company’s top manager that she needed time off to care for her daughter.  Gienapp’s daughter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Gienapp was granted leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  Under FMLA, employees are allowed upto 12 weeks’ unpaid leave annually to care for children with serious health conditions. 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1).
On March 29, Gienapp was terminated from her job because she failed to inform the company of the date she would return from leave.  The United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, held that Gienapp had complied with the FMLA even though she did not inform the company of her anticipated return date.  The statute requires that an employee gives notice and Gienapp complied.  At the time of the leave, Gienapp was unaware of when she would return because the doctors did not know how long her daughter would have to undergo treatment.  The higher court reversed the lower court’s decision, and remanded the case with instructions to grant summary judgment for Gienapp. Gienapp v. Harbor Crest, 14-1053, 2014 WL 2854816 (7th Cir. June 24, 2014).