Lewis v. City of Chicago, 560 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2191 (2010)

Plaintiffs in this case (more than 6,000 African-Americans) had applied to serve in the Chicago Fire Department. They challenged as discriminatory the city’s decision to hire only applicants who had scored 89 or above on a written examination. The city stipulated that the 89-point cutoff had a “severe disparate impact against African Americans,” but argued that the cutoff score was justified by business necessity. Although plaintiffs won at the district court level, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment on the ground that plaintiffs’ suit was untimely because the earliest EEOC charge was filed more than 300 days after the only discriminatory act – sorting the scores into the “well-qualified,” “qualified” and “not-qualified” categories.

The Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit and held that it was sufficient that the City’s selection of firefighters occurred within the charging period – even though its adoption of the challenged practice may have occurred at an earlier time. The Court distinguished between disparate treatment claims, which require discriminatory intent, and disparate impact claims such as those present in this case. See also EEOC v. Peabody W. Coal, 2010 WL 2572001 (9th Cir. 2010) (EEOC’s claim for injunctive relief could proceed against coal company that favored Navajo workers over non-Navajo Indians); Carver v. Holder, 606 F.3d 690 (9th Cir. 2010) (employee who alleged age discrimination could not sue to increase the amount of damages obtained by the EEOC without relitigating the issue of liability).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.