Monday, September 04, 2006

admin. law - standard of proof - circumstantial evidence

A.B. v. Slippery Rock School District - Commonwealth Court - August 31, 2006

In this school expulsion case, the court (at n. 5) affirmed that the "level of proof required to establish a case" before an administrative agency or other quasi-judicial body is a preponderance of the evidence, citing Lansberry v. PUC, 578 A.2d 600 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990).

The court also said (at n. 8 and related text) that circumstantial evidence can be used to satisfy that burden.

federal courts - standing - abstention

Taliaferro v. Darby Township Zoning Board - 3rd Cir. - August 10, 2006

This is an exclusionary zoning case that contains short summaries of a) federal standing law, including when a litigant can bring a case on behalf of a third party, and b) two kinds of absention, Younger and Rooker-Feldman.

employment - Title VII - retaliation

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. White - U.S. Supreme Court - June 22, 2006

In what one of the plaintiff's lawyers called an "exceptionally important decision," the court held 9-0 that a person pursuing an anti-retaliation claim under Title VII, 42 U.S.C . sec.. 2000e-2(a),against an employer need only prove a "materially adverse" employment action that "might have dissuaded a reasonable worker" from complaining about discrimination. The anti-retaliation provision protects an employee who has made a charge, testified, assisted orparticipated in a Title VII proceeding or investigation, sec. 2000e-3(a).

The court rejected the employer's claim that retaliation should only include actions that affect an employee's compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The court found that the anti-retaliation provision was broader that the anti-discrimination provision and is "not limited to discriminatory actions that affect the terms and conditions of employment," holding that Congress wanted to "deter the many forms that effective retaliation can take" in the workplace and beyond.

The court said the context and common sense matter and that it was not imposing a "general civility code" on the workplace. Rather, the court's decision and standard would "screen out trivial conduct while effectively capturing those acts that are likely to dissuade employees from complaining."

This new standard was applied in Walsh v. Irvin Stern's Costumes, Inc. - ED Pa. - 8-15-06