REASON PREVAILS...

She got served. A Home Depot manager in Tennessee was terminated for violating the company’s no-self-service policy, a measure intended to control theft. The policy, common among retailers, requires that employees who make purchases and other personal transactions be waited on by co-workers rather than handling the transactions themselves. This prevents employees from “purchasing” goods and then “returning” them for a refund while keeping both the goods and the refund money. Home Depot’s policy provided that violations resulted in termination on first offense. The manager did both, and was terminated. Then she sued Home Depot for sex discrimination. Thankfully, a federal district court granted summary judgment to Home Depot, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) affirmed.

The Joy of SOX. A newbie employee doesn’t like the way his supervisor does things. He accuses her of dishonesty, and the company conducts an investigation, clearing the supervisor and her department of accounting irregularities. “Newb” believes his company isn’t taking the complaint seriously enough, so he continues to raise Cain, and is eventually terminated after only three months on the job. He files Sarbanes-Oxley and wrongful termination claims against his employer. Both a federal court in Massachusetts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island) agree that the employee has failed to create an issue for a jury. Even if the supervisor were guilty of sloppy recordkeeping and accounting practices, the First Circuit said, this would not be enough for a viable SOX claim. The plaintiff would have to show that the inaccuracies were material to shareholders, meaning that a reasonable investor would consider the information to have “significantly altered” the “total mix of information” relevant to the investment decision.

REASON FLAILS...

Aaaarrrrrgh, matey! Weren’t the pirates to blame? The inspiring story of the Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama – who offered himself to be kidnapped by Somali pirates so that his crew members could be saved – sank like a stone after a crew member on the freighter sued Maersk and another company for putting him in danger. The suit, filed by chief cook Richard Hicks, requests that the defendants impose a number of safety measures, some of which may be reasonable, but it also (of course) seeks damages in excess of $75,000 for Mr. Hicks himself. In a related story, a Tennessee woman who offered a McDonald’s cheeseburger to a homeless man who ungratefully beat her up is suing... McDonald’s! (But at least she’s suing her attacker, too.)

Woman with a lot on her plate can’t be denied promotion for . . . having a lot on her plate. A federal district court in Maine granted summary judgment to an employer who denied a promotion to a woman who had six-year-old triplets and one other child, and who was attending night school. Among other things, the court found no discrimination because the successful candidate was also a mom, and it found that there was no evidence that the employer was motivated by “anti-mom” animus. The plaintiff appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico) reversed, giving her the right to take her case to trial. The plaintiff was told that she did not get the promotion because she had “the kids” and was going to school – and “you just have a lot on your plate right now.” Moreover, although the successful candidate was a mother, she had only two children, ages 9 and 14.

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