Carolyn Wheeler's Notable Case Successes

Briefs in the Supreme Court are filed on behalf of the government by the Solicitor General.  Ms. Wheeler worked with the Solicitor’s office on a number of significant employment discrimination cases in which the Solicitor filed amicus briefs or briefs on behalf of the EEOC as a party.  A partial list of those cases follows: 

UAW v. Johnson Controls
Ms. Wheeler worked on this landmark case that held that fetal protection policies that bar fertile women from particular jobs violate Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

Sutton v. United Airlines, Murphy v. UPS, and Albertson’s v. Kirkingburg
This trilogy of disability cases spurred the amendments to the ADA expanding the coverage of individuals with disabilities. 

Toyota v. Williams
Disability case that led Congress to reexamine the meaning of “substantially limited.” 

Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Ellerth v. Burlington Industries
These cases led to the creation of an affirmative defense for supervisory sexual harassment, consistent with the agency principles of liability espoused by the EEOC. 

Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services
Sexual harassment case recognizing that same-sex harassment is actionable, as advocated by the government.

Harris v. Forklift Systems
Sexual harassment case recognizing that harassment victims do not need to prove they were emotionally devastated to the point of being unable to work to establish actionable harassment. 

In more recent years, Ms. Wheeler worked with the Solicitor General’s Office on briefs filed in the Supreme Court in the following cases:

Crawford v. Metropolitan Gov’t of Memphis
A case involving retaliation against a harassment witness, in which the Court agreed with the government’s argument that witnesses are protected by Title VII’s retaliation provision. 

Gross v. FBL Financial Services
A case in which the Court rejected the government’s argument that victims of age discrimination should be allowed to prove their claims under the same mixed motives standards applicable in Title VII cases. 

Ricci v. DeStefano
A case involving a challenge to New Haven’s decision not to rely on a discriminatory exam used for choosing  firefighters for promotion to captain positions.

Thompson v. North American Stainless
The case that established that a close relative or friend can state a retaliation claim based on that friend or relative’s protected activity (third party retaliation).

Hosanna Tabor v. EEOC
Affirmed the existence of a ministerial exception that allows religious organizations to make employment decisions about employees who qualify as ministers without being subject to liability under the anti-discrimination statutes. 

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar
Case in which the Court rejected arguments that the Title VII mixed motives proof framework should apply to retaliation claims. 

During the 2014 term, Ms. Wheeler worked with the Solicitor’s office on the following: 

Mach Mining v. EEOC
The Court held that lower courts may conduct only extremely limited and deferential review of EEO’s pre-suit conciliation efforts. 

Young v. UPS
The Court determined that Young had made out a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination against her employer that denied her light duty request when she was pregnant, while providing light duty to a variety of other employees.

EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch
The Court held that the EEOC had established a viable claim of religious discrimination and failure to accommodate an applicant for employment who was not hired because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons.