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Employment and ERISA Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on April 05, 2010 12:34 PM

Helton v. Southland Racing Corp., No. 09-1674, concerned an action for employment discrimination and retaliation based on plaintiff's race.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that 1) the alleged verbal harassment creating a hostile work environment in this case was neither frequent nor severe; and 2) because plaintiff claimed only the materially adverse action of a constructive discharge as a basis for her retaliation claim, and because the court had held that she failed to offer sufficient evidence of a constructive discharge, she did not demonstrate a materially adverse action against her.

Schultz v. Windstream Comms., Inc., No. 09-2125, involved an action alleging that an amendment to defendant's pension plan violated ERISA, as well as federal and state age discrimination laws.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendant on the grounds that 1) the act of amending a pension plan did not trigger ERISA's fiduciary provisions; 2) plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the amendment because, even if the court invalidated the amendment, plaintiffs would still receive benefits under the plan's early retirement provision; and 3) plaintiffs presented no evidence that the differential treatment in the plan was actually motivated by age.

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