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United States District Court, E. SylvertoothOffice of General Counsel. The jury trial in this case took place from February 16, through February 29, In its earlier summary judgment Opinion and Order, the Court found that the United States Department of Navy "Navy" was a joint employer of Plaintiff with respect to her claim that the Navy failed to accommodate her hearing disability, in her job as a Physician Assistant, pursuant to its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of When the Court heard arguments on the proposed jury instructions, it adopted, over the Navy's objection, Jury Instruction 32 regarding joint employer liability.
Having heard arguments from the parties at trial, the Court now memorializes its ruling, citing the legal support it discussed on the record. A "joint employer" relationship does not create liability in the co-employer for actions taken by the other employer; that is, each employer is only liable to the employee for its own actions, not for each other's actions.
However, a "joint employer" is liable if it participates in the co-employer's discrimination or if it knew or should have known about the co-employer's discrimination and failed to undertake prompt corrective measures within its control.
Jury Instruction 32 is a modified version of Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction 44, regarding joint employer liability, and incorporates discussions with both parties regarding Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction 28, regarding agents of a corporation or agency.
The Navy objected to Jury Instruction 32, arguing that Jury Instruction 32 presented to the jury an incorrect statement of the law based on the facts of the case. The first view, and the one represented by Plaintiff's Proposed Jury Instruction 28, argues that agency principles should be applied to determine joint employer liability.
Riviera Beach Assoc30 F. The second view, and the one espoused by the Navy during argument, asserts that a joint employer relationship does not create vicarious liability for a co-employer. The Court agreed with the Navy, in part, and found that a joint employer relationship does not automatically create liability in a joint employer for actions taken by a co-employer.
Milwaukee CountyF. However, a number of courts have determined that a joint employer may be liable for the discriminatory actions of a co-employer when a joint employer "participates" in a co-employer's discrimination, or if a joint employer "[knew] or should have known of [a co-employer's] discrimination but fail[ed] to take corrective action within its control.
The "knew or should have known" standard is an "agency-like theory" which has been repeatedly recognized in the Title VII context. The "knew or should have known" standard noted above, and included in Jury Instruction 32, was articulated by the EEOC in its Enforcement Guidance regarding contingent workers.
The EEOC Enforcement Guidance examines the specific context of temporary employment or staffing agencies sending employees to client employers, and concludes that "the [staffing firm] is liable if it participates in the client's discrimination.
The [staffing firm] is also liable if it knew or should have known about the client's discrimination and failed to undertake prompt corrective measures within its control.
The "knew or should have known" standard was clarified to note its application to both a staffing firm and its client in the EEOC Enforcement Guidance regarding contingent workers.What We Do. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers' Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with civil .
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