Carolyn Wheeler Examines 2nd Circ. Ruling in Title VII Discrimination Case

October 26, 2023

In a new article for Law360, “2nd Circ. Ruling Clarifies Title VII Claim Standards,” KBK partner Carolyn Wheeler discusses the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s opinion in Banks v. General Motors LLC, which comes as the Supreme Court is preparing to reevaluate the standards that apply to Title VII claims of discrimination in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

The Second Circuit case involves racial and sexual harassment and discrimination claims brought by Billie Banks, who worked at a General Motors plant in New York for over 30 years. In her suit, Ms. Banks claims that she experienced pervasive racial and sexual harassment at the plant beginning in 2002, leading her to file a charge with the EEOC in 2013. Afterwards, Ms. Banks says she faced retaliation when she was temporarily reassigned to a non-supervisory role and a less desirable shift.

While the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York initially granted summary judgment to General Motors, the Second Circuit reversed the decision on the ground that the company’s actions affected the terms, conditions, or privileges of Ms. Banks’s employment. The decision is in line with recent decisions in other Circuits which have held that discrimination in “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment”  can include non-material changes such as reassignment to an undesirable shift or a loss of responsibilities.

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