Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 555 U.S. 271 (2009)

Petitioner Vicky Crawford reported that her manager made sexually explicit remarks and gestures towards her; she was later terminated. At issue was whether Title VII protections against retaliation extended to an employee who spoke out about discrimination not on her own initiative, but in answering questions during an employer's internal investigation.

Lewis v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 2191 (2010)

The petitioners, unsuccessful applicants for firefighter positions, filed suit alleging that the City of Chicago’s practice of selecting only applicants who scored 89 or above on a written examination had a disparate impact on African-Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Nassar v. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 570 U.S. ____, 133 S. Ct. 2517 (2013).

In this case the Supreme Court limited the standard of proof in retaliation cases under Title VII (the nation’s primary anti-discrimination law) to the narrower “but for” causation standard.  While this ruling benefits employers and was contrary to the position argued by the AAUP in an amicus brief it is a relatively modest change in the burden of proof in such cases.

Teresa Buchanan v. F. King Alexander et. al, No. 3:16-CV-41 (5th Cir. 2018)(appeal pending)

The AAUP filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that argues that the termination of Professor Theresa Buchanan, for making statements in the classroom that the university improperly characterized as sexual harassment, violated her academic freedom. The brief explains that sexual harassment policies, particularly those focused on speech, must be narrowly drawn and sufficiently precise to ensure that their provisions do not infringe on First Amendment rights of free speech and academic freedom. AAUP argues that the university’s policies, and their application to the facts, failed this test and thus violated Professor Buchanan’s academic freedom.

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