February 2012

Sanders v. Lee County School District, No. 10-3240 (8th Cir. 2012).  An Arkansas jury found in favor of plaintiff Sharon Sanders on her Title VII claims of race discrimination and constructive discharge.  The jury awarded $10,000 in compensatory damages for race discrimination, $60,825 in back and front pay damages for her constructive discharge, and $8,000 in punitive damages.  After the verdict, the district court judge granted the School District’s motion under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to set aside the jury’s verdicts on constructive discharge and punitive damages.  Sanders appealed the district court’s vacation of the jury’s verdicts to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and reinstated the jury’s findings.

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For nearly three years, Sean Lathrop was a star of the St. Cloud Police Department.  Known as the “Golden Boy,” Officer Lathrop earned superlative performance evaluations, garnered high recommendations from community members, and quickly advanced to positions of responsibility.

Officer Lathrop’s ascent within the Department came to an abrupt end on May 12, 2009, when he disclosed his sexual orientation and requested to serve as an openly gay officer at the Minneapolis Gay Pride Parade.  Within six months of that date, the Department disciplined Officer Lathrop five times, subjected him to three internal investigations, removed him from multiple positions of responsibility, placed him on a performance improvement plan, and awarded him the lowest possible marks on his performance evaluation.  Officer Lathrop ultimately resigned from his position.

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