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Case Analyses: State the issue, rule of law, applications

Both case analyses and assessed question is for IRAC format.


Cindy is 36 years old and working as a sales representative for a small manufacturer. Cindy and her husband have been married for about 12 years. They have no children because initially they wanted to establish their careers before taking on the obligations of raising a family. Cindy has been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years without success. Cindy and her husband have recently learned the source of the problem is Cindy, and that she needs to reduce her working hours in order to reduce her stress level. Cindy currently works about 60 hours a week and wants to reduce her hours to about 40 or so. Cindy's employer refuses to change her responsibilities, but says that so long as she gets all her work finished, it is no problem if she works fewer hours per week. Cindy brings a claim under the ADA on the grounds that her inability to get pregnant is a covered disability.


Dennis comes up to his supervisor, Mae, at a Christmas party and tells Mae he wants to sue for sexual harassment. Mae asks what happened. Dennis says that Linda came over to him and tweaked his lower "cheek" and called him sweetie. Linda has done this to other guys at the party as well. Dennis reports it to management who laughs it off. He quits and files with EEOC. Does he win? If so, how much?


A black female employee is told that she cannot come to work at the bank with her hair in decorative braids traditionally worn in Africa, and if she continues to do so, she will be terminated. Does the employee have a claim under Title VII?


Father and son have their own parking lot cleaning business. They contract with Wal-Mart to clean the parking lot. While cleaning the lot, Wal-Mart employees from the nursery make Hispanic ethnic slurs and epithets. This continues even after the father complains to Wal-Mart management who refuses to do anything. Is there a Title VII violation? Does Section 1981 apply? Does it matter that father and son are independent contractors and not employees?

Accessed questions:

Please use IRAC format

1. An English professor puts a comment on a student's composition which says, 'Can't you write at all? You are writing at a third grade level and will never be able to graduate from this university.'The student is extremely upset and sues the professor for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Please state the issue, rule, application, and conclusion.

2. Dorothy Yu, an employee of Northwest Pipeline Corporation, was found to have in her possession a confidential personnel document that she was not authorized to possess. She admitted possession and identified Enser, who worked in the records department, as the source of the document. Both Yu and Enser were terminated for violating Northwest's confidentiality policy. Northwest then informed the Utah Job Services that Yu had been fired for this reason and therefore was ineligible for unemployment compensation. Selected nonsupervisory Northwest employees were also informed of the reasons for Yu's termination. Yu filed a defamation suit against Northwest. Please state the Legal Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

3. Laura promised her roommate Betsy that she (Laura) would "take care" of getting renter's insurance on their apartment. Two months later, when the apartment was broken into and looted, Betsy discovered that Laura had not purchased the insurance. Is there any theory under which Betsy might be able to recover damages from Laura in this case? Please state the Legal Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

4. Jack applied to Intex Corp., a company with 15 or more employees, for a job maintaining and repairing its copy machines on an "as needed" basis. Jack has his own tools. Jack is also trying to get contracts with other companies to repair their copy machines. If Jack is hired, is he a part-time employee or an independent contract?
Please state the Legal Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

5. Ewers, who own a saltwater aquarium with tropical fish, bought several seashells, a piece of coral, and a driftwood branch from the Verona Rock Shop. Just before the purchase, the sales clerk told Ewers that these items were "suitable for saltwater aquariums, if they are rinsed." After making the purchase, Ewers took the items home, rinsed them for 20 minutes in a saltwater solution, and put them in his aquarium. Within a week, 17 of his tropical fish died. The "rinsing" required to prevent their deaths is a week-long cleansing process that involves soaking the shells and the coral in boiling water. Assume that Ewers did not know the correct "rinsing" procedure. Please state the Legal Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

6. Maintenance Contractors, Inc., owed $13,600 to Westinghouse Electric Supply Co. Robert Pilkerton, the majority shareholder of Maintenance Contractors, caused Maintenance Contractors to cease operations. Twelve days later, Robert Pilkerton incorporated R.E. Pilkerton, Inc, which carried on the same business as Maintenance Contractors. Are Pilkerton and R.E. Pilkerton, Inc., liable to Westinghouse on the $13,000 debt? Please state the Legal Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

Solution Preview

What disabilities are covered under the ADA?

If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don't.

To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working.

An employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations under the ADA. Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

In this case, Cindy suffers from job-related stress. As such, she and her husband have been unable to get pregnant. While the inability to get pregnant is significant, it is not a substantial impairment because it does not limit or restrict a major life activity.

Since Cindy does not qualify under the ADA, her employer is not obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for Cindy.

Cindy loses her ADA claim.

What constitutes sexual harassment under the EEOC?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

In this case, Dennis is approached by a female employee who tweaks his lower cheek and calls him 'sweetie.' The female employee, Linda, has done this to several other employees at the party as well.

Here, the behavior occurred outside the office at a company Christmas party. There is no evidence that Linda has or had continued this behavior during work. This conduct did not affect, explicitly or implicitly, Dennis' employment, did not interfere with Dennis' work performance and did not create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Linda's behavior can be seen more as a gesture of endearment that as sexual harassment.

Dennis does not win his EEOC sexual harassment claim.

What constitutes discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act?

Title VII of the Act prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Here, the black employee is told she cannot wear her hair in braids that are traditionally worn in Africa. The bank does not give a bona fide employment qualification for such reasoning, therefore, they are discriminating against her based on race and origin.

The employee wins her discrimination claim ...

Solution Summary

This solution helps with a problem involving case analyses and questions in the IRAC format.