The Inbox

| William A. Schreiner, Jr.

Here in Washington, we’re getting ready for the Presidential Inauguration next weekend.  But the news doesn’t stop: 

  • One Question Too Far:  An assistant VP at a bank in Texas alleges he was fired because he is gay.  Marty Edwards says in his lawsuit that he was passed over for promotion for several years, and when he questioned this he was told he didn’t fit the bank’s “image;” when he then asked specifically if his sexual orientation was a factor, he asserts, the bank asked for his resignation. 
  • Another Showcase Showdown: the saga surrounding pregnancy and models who work on TV game show The Price Is Right continues.  We’ve covered the allegations that the show’s producers illegally terminated the models here.  Now, fired model Shane Stirling is appealing a trial court’s dismissal of her suit, contending the judge got it wrong by holding she needed to be pregnant at the time she was fired in order to bring a case alleging pregnancy discrimination.  Stirling was fired soon after she returned to work from maternity leave; the producers say she was let go as part of a general reduction of the number of models on the show. 
  • From the “Is He Fired or Not” department: The former CEO of ShopSavvy has filed an interesting complaint in Texas state court, alleging that: 1) the company’s board improperly terminated him without cause; then 2) started negotiating with him to work in a different job; then 3) denied it had ever fired him; and finally 4) sent him a letter telling him he was fired.  This will be a neat one to watch, but it points out that it’s generally a good idea to be clear when communicating employment decisions and negotiating with executives.
  • What Brown Can’t Do For You:  UPS did not need to provide a pregnant employee with reasonable accommodations to enable her to keep her job, the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has held, writing: “One may characterize the UPS policy as insufficiently charitable, but a lack of charity does not amount to discriminatory animus directed at a protected class of employees.”
  • Trying Again: Colleague Andrew Torrez wrote here about former Bloomberg executive Anthony Martinez’ suit against his employer, in which he alleged his termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The trial court held that Martinez’s claim was covered by the forum selection clause in his employment contract with Bloomberg, which required all disputes to be litigated in England – and Martinez’s claim couldn’t be brought there.  Now, Martinez has filed an appeal from that decision with the federal 2d Circuit.  We’ll keep our eyes on this one, because it raises interesting issues about the scope of these often-overlooked – but frequently important – clauses that mandate where an executive and an employer have to litigate any disputes between them. 
  • How About A Knuckle Sandwich: While it’s not the typical employment dispute we focus on, we couldn’t let the week close without mentioning this dispute between a Subway employee and a customer, who almost came to blows when the customer asked for ketchup on his cheesesteak sandwich.  Fascinating fact learned in our research – and we promise we never thought about this issue before -- but it appears Subway stores usually don’t even carry ketchup.  In any event, the employee has been fired by Subway.