“I’d like to join a club and beat you over the head with it.” Before 1947 and Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball was segregated, forcing talented African-American athletes to play in the Negro League. The Negro League died out in the early 1960s and lacked the funds to pay health or pension benefits to its former members. To remedy indisputable past discrimination against black ballplayers, MLB created a special plan to provide insurance benefits to Negro Leaguers who played before 1948 and who played at least four years in the Negro League or MLB. So, guess what? A white ballplayer brought a class action on behalf of other “nonblack” baseball players, alleging that the plan was discriminatory. The class, 99 percent white, consisted of ballplayers who would have qualified for the benefits but for the fact that they had never played in the Negro League. (They hadn’t played with the MLB long enough to qualify for “regular” MLB benefits.) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands) agreed that the lower court had properly sent the plaintiffs to the showers.

News flash! Viewing kiddie porn on internet at work has consequences! An employer terminated its operations manager for downloading pornographic images of children. Thankfully, the manager did not have the nerve to sue the employer for any type of wrongful discharge. However, he was criminally prosecuted, and the Ninth Circuit held that the images he had downloaded and images on his hard drive were admissible in his criminal trial. Because the employer had a policy and practice of monitoring employees’ internet activity, the court found that the manager had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Gone With the Wind. An Arkansas tree-planting company was sued for wage and hour violations. The company overwrote electronic documents and sent employees to Guatemala so that they could not participate in the lawsuit. Most “creative” of all, they shipped paper records to a Mississippi beach house at the height of hurricane season. A district court judge in Louisiana sanctioned the company for the discovery violations and left open the possibility that more sanctions could be forthcoming.

But, boy, does she ever look nice driving up to her new low-level job in that pink Caddy! The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Georgia, Florida, Alabama) has upheld dismissal of a race discrimination suit filed by an African-American female postmaster who was demoted for selling Mary Kay cosmetics on the job. The court found that a white male co-worker who distributed Avon products on the job was not similarly situated because he didn’t sell, and he wasn’t a supervisor. The former postmaster, by contrast, sold to subordinates and post office customers.

Alas, no constitutional right to be a slob. (*sob*) After a state park in Kentucky required its employees to tuck in their shirts, three seasonal employees refused. When they were fired, they sued and claimed that the terminations violated their First Amendment, equal protection, and due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. Uhhhh, no, said the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee), affirming the dismissal by a lower court.


Show me the money! A federal judge in the District of Columbia has found that the U.S. Treasury has violated the federal Rehabilitation Act because the dollar bill – yes, that dollar bill – cannot be discerned by the blind or visually impaired. The suit was filed by the American Council of the Blind. Another advocacy group, the National Federation of the Blind, has sharply criticized the lawsuit and the decision. The President of the NFB said, “An employer who believes that every piece of printed material in the workplace must be specially designed so that the blind can read it will have a strong incentive not to hire a blind person.” He added, “Essentially, the United States Treasury has been ordered by the courts to come up with a solution for a nonexistent problem.”

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