U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Victory for Crowe & Dunlevy Client

OKLAHOMA CITY – The United States Supreme Court recently affirmed a major victory for Oklahoma employer Epworth Villa in an employment law case.  Epworth Villa was represented by the Oklahoma law firm of Crowe & Dunlevy.

Epworth Villa, a not-for-profit continuing care community in Northwest Oklahoma City, was sued in October 2004 by former employee Bernadine Vaughn for racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  According to court documents, Vaughn admitted making copies of confidential patient health records and supplying these documents to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in an effort to support her charges of discrimination.  Epworth Villa terminated Vaughn's employment after learning that she had made these copies and sent them to a third party in violation of the company's policies. 

In October 2006, Judge Stephen Friot of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted summary judgment to Epworth Villa on Vaughn's claims.  Vaughn  appealed, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument on the case in Spring 2008.  In August 2008, the Tenth Circuit affirmed Judge Friot's ruling that Vaughn's claims should be dismissed.  Vaughn then appealed her case to the United States Supreme Court arguing that there was a split in the circuit courts of appeal on the evidentiary standard used by the Tenth Circuit to uphold the dismissal of her case.  On March 2, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain this argument and denied Vaughn's petition for writ of certiorari.

“We are extremely satisfied to see this drawn-out legal battle end in complete victory for our client,” said Epworth Villa's lead attorney Gayle Barrett, who serves as the chairman of the Crowe & Dunlevy's Labor and Employment section.  Joining Barrett on the case was Adam Childers, also a director in the firm's Labor and Employment group.

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