Monday, May 17, 2021

Title VII Discrimination

Here's a case from January 2021 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  Here's a map of the circuits.
This case is called Lemon v Myers Bigel and is an appeal of a case from the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Shawna Lemon practiced patent law with Myers Bigel, first as an associate and later as an equity partner and equal owner of the firm.  About ten years after she made partner, she applied for a short-term leave, citing an unspecified medical condition.  This leave was denied, even though similar requests for leave were routinely granted to white partners.  She resigned and filed suit, alleging racial and gender discrimination.

The court ruled in favor of Myers Bigel, on the grounds that Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, and Lemon was an owner and not an employee.  Additionally, because Lemon never disclosed any clarifying details or the exact medical condition for which she requested leave, the court could not determine whether the denial was based on her race or on another factor which was legally permissible.

Do you agree with the court's conclusion?  Why or why not?



  1. No, I do not agree. Medical privacy was codified in 1996, with HIPAA.

    There should be no need to disclose the why, if such leave terms have already been used.

  2. I agree medical details shouldn't have been needed, but a medical certificate surely would have been? We need one in Oz - it usually says "medical reasons" with the dates the leave covers and is issued by your GP or specialist.

    Although from what has been said, it doesn't mean her race or gender had anything to do with the denial of leave. I can think of a myriad of reasons why it might have been refused.

    1. True. And she was a partner and not an employee. That's what really stood out to me.