Before we begin celebrating the new year, let’s take a look back at the some of the notable labor & employment cases, administrative opinions and guidance from 2010. There were many significant developments this past year – too many to include in this list. With that in mind, the Top 10 below are those that I think are worth highlighting once more.
10. ADEA – In Mendelsohn v. Sprint/United Management Company, an employee brought a disparate treatment age discrimination claim against her former employer, arising out of her termination during a company-wide reduction in force. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the jury verdict in favor of the employer and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding “me too” evidence from five former employees who also claimed that their supervisors had discriminated against them because of their age. The Tenth Circuit explained that to be relevant, evidence must make it more or less probable that the employee’s supervisors terminated her employment because of her age. In other words, evidence regarding other employees must be within a relevant time frame and be logically or reasonably tied to the adverse employment action against the plaintiff. While this is not precedential outside of the Tenth Circuit, it is instructive regarding the exclusion of “me too” evidence.
9. FMLA – Here is a noteworthy case from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania regarding individual liability pursuant to the FMLA. In Narodetsky v. Cardone Industries, the plaintiff was terminated two weeks after his employer was notified of his need for FMLA leave and short term disability. The court denied a motion to dismiss and permitted the FMLA claims to continue against five individual defendants and the plaintiff’s employer. The five individuals included the Director of Human Resources, Human Resources Representative and Plant Manager who were present at the employee’s termination, as well as the President/CEO and Manager of Health Benefits (as ERISA claims were also included). Accordingly, the court held that the definition of “employer” includes individuals. Other jurisdictions outside of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania have also extended the potential liability for violations of the FMLA to individuals, spotlighting the potential risks and liability for HR managers, supervisors and executives.
To be continued… 8, 7 and 6 will be posted tomorrow.