On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, NELA was proud to join with a coalition of women’s, employee, and civil rights groups led by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in filing an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiff-Appellant Evangeline Parker in Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc., pending currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In the course of rising in the ranks while working at the defendant firm, the Plaintiff was subjected to a false and repugnant rumor that her professional advancement was due to her having a sexual relationship with a male manager. The rumor’s spreading resulted in Ms. Parker facing harassment and discrimination, and when she tried to stop the rumor and complained about the harassment she was facing, the company retaliated against her and ultimately terminated her employment. The district court relied on a number of inappropriate grounds in dismissing her claims, including erroneously holding that the type of rumor to which she was subjected could not support a claim for gender discrimination because it could be made about either a male or female employee. The amicus brief marshals a wide array of legal and social science evidence in demonstrating that … Read More
Whitley v. BP: NELA AARP Amicus Brief (5th Circuit)
For nearly two decades, some courts presumed that it was prudent to invest a retirement plan’s assets in an Employer Stock Option Plan (ESOP), i.e., a benefit plan invested in the employer’s own company stock. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (2014), that there is no statutory basis for excluding fiduciaries of ESOPs from ERISA’s generally applicable duty of prudence. After discarding the “presumption of prudence” for ESOPs, the Court addressed pleading standards in such cases, holding that in order to plead that a fiduciary violated his or her duty of prudence, a plaintiff must “plausibly allege that a prudent fiduciary in the defendant’s position could not have concluded” that stopping purchases of the employer’s stock “would do more harm than good” to the retirement fund in question.
After Dudenhoeffer was decided, the Whitley Defendants argued that the Plaintiffs’ claims must be dismissed unless the Plaintiffs could plausibly allege—and subsequently prove—that no prudent fiduciary could have concluded that stopping purchases of BP stock would have caused more harm than good to the underlying fund. In sum, the Defendants’ proposed standard would force the Plaintiffs to undertake the practically … Read More
NELA Amicus Brief: DeMasters v. Carilion Clinic (4th Circuit)
On February 25, 2014, NELA filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of plaintiff DeMasters who was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for using established internal complaint mechanisms to notify Carilion Clinic about the sexual harassment of a co-worker by a supervisor. The court in the Western District of Virginia granted Carilion’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, holding that DeMasters failed to state a plausible claim of retaliation under Title VII because he did not produce sufficient facts to establish that he engaged in a protected activity. The circumstances surrounding DeMasters’ termination were egregious. DeMasters worked as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor for Carilion Clinic for more than five years. In October 2008, DeMasters reported to Carilion’s human resources department that another employee, John Doe, had confided to DeMasters that Doe was being subjected to harassment. This was well before Doe filed an EEOC charge and subsequent lawsuit. In August 2011, shortly after Doe’s lawsuit was settled, DeMasters was questioned by Carilion managers about his involvement with Doe in 2008. DeMasters was asked why he had not taken the “pro-employer side” concerning Doe’s complaints. DeMasters also was told that he … Read More
NELA Amicus Brief: Summers v. Altarum Institute Corp. (4th Circuit)
On July 14, 2013, NELA joined AARP in filing an amicus brief supporting Carl Summers, a contract statistician with Altarum Institute Corp. who sustained serious injury to both legs in 2011 accident, in his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Summers was terminated while recuperating from these injuries despite properly requesting an accommodation under the federal disability laws. Amici address several aspects of disability law not analyzed with clarity or precision by the district court, including the significance of enactment of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) as well as the issuance of revised regulations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the status of non-permanent medical conditions. In particular, the district court failed to properly analyze whether Summers was “substantially limited” in a “major life activity,” and whether Altarum “failed” to “reasonably” accommodate his injuries.
Authors: Daniel B. Kohrman, Brian East… Read More