Choice Of Law Matters In Employment Cases
Author: New York Employment Discrimination Lawyer Alena Shautsova
February 2021 will always remain significant, especially to ten employees that worked for Glow Networks Inc. Even the lawyer that represented these employees confirmed to BET that the case`s verdict was a way to send a message to the world. The message was for companies or anyone to stop discriminating against employees, especially because it is the 21st century and the act is past its time.
Glow Networks is a company based in Texas. Ten employees including nine black employees sued the company for employment discrimination. The case, dubbed, Yarbrough, et al. v. Glow Networks, Inc. was a reminder that there was continued employment discrimination and legal remedies to curb such cases.
Background of the Case
In December 2019, ten plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Glow Networks at a federal court in Texas. The plaintiffs complained that the employer created a hostile work environment, and denied promotions and equal pay.
The plaintiff wanted compensatory, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. For this reason, the plaintiff wanted to proceed with the case under 42 U.S.C. 1981 instead of the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The jury concluded that the employees had proven that Glow Networks subjected the plaintiffs to employment discrimination and retaliation. These employees were denied promotions, laid offs, fired, and even demoted.
This led to huge compensation. Ideally, each plaintiff earned $3 million for emotional distress damages and another $4 million for punitive damages. This type of reward is designed to punish an employer that subjects employees to employment discrimination. Glow Networks paid $70 million to ten plaintiffs. The company might have paid more to cover the trial expenses and attorneys` fees.
What are the Differences Between Section 1981 and Title VII Race Discrimination Claims?
Both Section 1981 and Title VII prohibit employment discrimination based on race. However, in the case against Glow Networks, employees chose the Section 1981 route instead of the latter for several reasons. The broader reason is that you are likely to get better compensation when you take the Section 1981 route. Meanwhile, Title VII caps the maximum compensation to a plaintiff at $300,000.
If the ten plaintiffs based their case on the Title VII cap, they would have won just $3,000,000. Fortunately, they were awarded $67 million more for basing their case on Section 1981. Here are more differences between Section 1981 and Title VII:
Section 1981 Doesn’t Require Employees to File Discrimination Charge With EEOC
Title VII lawsuit requires employees to first file an employment discrimination case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This process might take 180 or 300 days to file the charge depending on which state the employee works in. This process is for employees working in the private sector. Employees working with a local, state, or federal government take a different procedure and time to file a complaint with EEOC.
On the other hand, employees do not need to file a charge with EEOC before filing a Section 1981 lawsuit. This act works perfectly because it allows employees to still file a lawsuit even when they have missed a deadline to file a case with EEOC.
Section 1981 Has a Longer Statute of Limitations Than Title VII
Earlier we mentioned that employees have up to 300 days to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC depending on where they are and whether they work in the private or public sector. Another thing about filing a lawsuit under Title VII is that the suit must be filed within 90 days after getting a Right to Sue Notice from EEOC
Meanwhile, a claim asserted under Section 1981 comes with a longer statute of limitations. Ideally, an employee can file a lawsuit within four years of a violation.
Section 1981 Is for Race Discrimination Cases Only While Title VII Covers More Ground
Section 1981 lawsuit covers discrimination based on ethnicity or race. While this act provides many additional benefits that Title VII doesn’t, the latter offers broader coverage on this aspect.
For instance, a Title VII lawsuit can cover discrimination related to gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, and religion. Remember, it also covers discrimination against an employee`s race or ethnicity.
Section 1981 Doesn’t Outlaw Disparate Impact Discrimination While Title VII Does
Both Section 1981 and Title VII prohibit intentional discrimination in employment based on race. Title VII has an additional clause that prohibits using hiring practices such as written tests that would lead to a discriminatory outcome. For example, Title VII prohibits an outcome that would disadvantage African-Americans, females, and other classes of applicants.
An employer may not have intended for an employment practice to exclude protected groups. However, the disparate impact theory indicates that employment practices leading to discrimination violate Title VII. Meanwhile, Section 1981 only outlaws intentional discrimination.
The 2021 verdict against Glow Networks highlighted several things. For instance, it showed that there were efforts to curb employment discrimination. It also promised that statutes such as Title VII and Section 1981 would always improve the work environment for everyone.