March is turning out to be a busy month for appellate matters. The Kaplan Law Firm will have oral arguments in three separate appellate cases, all of which raise important issues of law.
On March 21 we have an oral argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond in Villa v. CavaMezze Grill, LLC, a Title VII civil rights case. In this case an employer fired an employee (my client) because she reported that another employee had told our client that she had been sexually harassed. The employer decided that my client was lying about what she was told be the other employee. It is now, however, clear that our client was very much telling the truth. According to the employer this is irrelevant–as long as our client cannot prove that the employer did not honestly believe that she was lying, it is free to fire her, regardless of the truth. In other words, according to the employer in this case, an employer can fire an employee for reporting discrimination if it concludes that the employee was lying about the report she made, even if the company’s determination is not only wrong, but entirely irrational. We argue that the law means what it says–that no employee can be fired for reporting discrimination, at least when the employee is acting in good faith.
On March 28 we have an argument before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Mason v. United States, No. 15-CF-305, a criminal case. The principal issue in this case is whether the trial court erred when it excluded for cause a potential juror who said she could be fair in this case but who believed that, as a general matter, the criminal justice system is biased against black males. We argue that the exclusion of this juror was a violation of my client’s Sixth Amendment right to be tried by an impartial jury of his peers.
On March 29 we have another oral argument before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Mashaud v. Boone, no. 16-FM-383. In this First Amendment case we argue that the trial court erred when it ruled that my client had violated D.C.’s anti-stalking law when he truthfully told others that another man had had an affair with my client’s wife. We argue that the First Amendment bars criminalizing such truthful, non-threatening speech. We also argue, in the alternative, that this conduct did not violate the anti-stalking statute, regardless of the reach of First Amendment protections.
In addition to those cases, on February 22 my cocounsel and The Kaplan Law Firm filed our opening brief in Jackson v. Teamsters Local Union 922, No. 16-7119, a factually complex case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. We represent several former employees of the Giant Supermarket chain. We believe that our clients’ rights were violated by both Giant and the unions that were supposed to represent them.