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Sixth Circuit Refines Heightened Standard Applicable To Discrimination Cases In The Context Of Reduction In Force

For years, employers executing reductions in force have been able to rely upon the heightened standard imposed on plaintiffs alleging discrimination in the selection process to defeat those lawsuits.  A plaintiff bringing such a case in the Sixth Circuit could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination simply by alleging that they were part of a protected class, suffered an adverse employment action, were qualified for the job, and that the job was subsequently given to a person outside the protected class.  In the context of a reduction in force, a plaintiff had to present additional direct, circumstantial, or statistical evidence tending to indicate that the employer singled him out for discharge for impermissible reasons.  See Barnes v. GenCorp, 896 F.2d 1457 (6th Cir. 1990).  Importantly, under Barnes a reduction in force occurred only where the employee was not replaced after discharge, and assigning a discharged employee's duties to a current employee in addition to his or her current duties was not considered a "replacement."  Id. at 1465.  On April 28, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rendered its decision in Pierson v. Quad/Graphics Printing Corp., refining the definition of "replacement" in a way that significantly undercuts employers' ability to rely on the heightened standard set forth in Barnes.  Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Issues Valuable Reminder of the Importance of Contractually Shortened Limitations Periods

Employers constantly are on the lookout for strategies to employ that reduce the risk of potential litigation arising from the workplace.  In a recent decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals served an important reminder of the importance of contractually shortened limitations periods as one simple step that employers can take to cut off potential employment claims. Read More ›

EEOC's New Age Discrimination Regulations Set To Go Into Effect April 30th

The EEOC’s long-awaited final rule amending its Age Discrimination in Employment (“ADEA”) regulations, concerning disparate-impact claims, goes into effect on April 30, 2012. Critics argue that this new rule, which sets forth standards for the reasonable factors other than age defense (“RFOA”), will lead to unwarranted scrutiny of employer’s business decisions and make it more difficult for employers to defend against frivolous litigation. Read More ›