On September 6, NELA, joined by the National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis. The brief argues that the 8th Circuit erred when finding that a police sergeant’s job transfer did not constitute gender discrimination. The brief also argues that this interpretation contradicts the congressional intent of the federal law and does not comport with the text of the statute. Highlighting the importance of non-economic aspects of a job, the brief contends that adverse actions of this type can also run afoul of the Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. NELA member Carolyn Wheeler, Katz Banks Kumin, LLP (DC) states “The issue here is a straightforward question of statutory construction. The statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, or religion in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment without any qualifying adjectives about a degree of harm the discrimination must cause. The discriminatory decision is what is unlawful and plaintiffs should be able to pursue such claims without the burden of proving the decision caused some level of “material” harm, which courts usually interpret to mean economic harm. Congress added damages to the remedies available for discrimination under Title VII precisely to ensure that victims of discriminatory decisions that don’t cause the loss of a job or loss of a promotion are nevertheless entitled to a remedy for the pain and suffering caused by unlawful discrimination. We are confident that a majority of the Justices will agree with this reading of the statute.”
We are grateful to Carolyn, Stephen Pershing, Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch (DC), and the teams from the National Women’s Law Center and NAACP Legal Defense Fund for drafting the brief.