SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that former Neiman Marcus employee Taylor Bayer was entitled to receive nominal damages in his suit that alleged violations of the Americans with Disability Act.
The June 27 opinion was delivered by judges Robert W. Pratt, who was sitting by designation.
According to the suit, Tayler Bayer was employed with Neiman Marcus from 2006 to 2009. Bayer filed suit in 2008, alleging that Neiman Marcus had failed to reasonably accommodate his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act after he allegedly was given a new schedule with less hours after a medical leave.
Bayer filed a second suit after Neiman Marcus implemented a new mandatory arbitration agreement to all employees, which he refused to sign. Neiman Marcus fired Bayer in 2009, and he filed another suit alleging that he was fired in retaliation for his refusal to sign the mandatory arbitration that he claimed was unlawful.
In 2014, the an appellant court affirmed the district court ruling in favor of Neiman Marcus in the retaliatory-discharge suit, concluding that because there no longer exists a present controversy between the parties, no effective relief could be granted. Bayer appealed the final judgment of the district court.
Pratt, however, dismissed the Bayer's requests for a declatory judgement and injunction against Neiman Marcus, but agreed with Bayer that the district court could have awarded him equitable monetary relief.
Pratt said the claim for a declatory judgement that Bayer argued would vindicate his rights and adjudicate past violations “is not an appropriate exercise of federal jurisdiction,” as the arbitration no longer binds or applies to Bayer, and Bayer showed no evidence to suggest he may work or sue Neiman Marcus in the future.
In deciding whether Bayer should have been awarded equitable monetary relief, Pratt noted the unique circumstances of this case and that complete justice may require the district court to award nominal damages as equitable relief. Pratt reversed the district court order finding his claim for equitable monetary relief moot.
The case has been sent back to district court for further proceedings.