Appellate Court Throws Out Sex Discrimination Rulings

June 19, 2006 ( - A federal appeals court has thrown out a series of rulings by a US Bankruptcy judge in a case involving sex discrimination claims leveled against a Silicon Valley tech company.

The 9 th  US Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, written by Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, came in the dispute between three female factory workers and the San Jose, California-based ZiLOG, a semiconductor manufacturer.

Plaintiffs alleged that in June 2001 ZiLOG announced the shutting of anIdaho plant and that it would pay retention bonuses to employees who stayed until the facility actually closed in December of that year. The women charged that the firm later reneged on its promise and that several male workers had received the special payments even though the three women had not.

By then ZiLOG was in US Bankruptcy Court. There the company successfully argued that the women’s claims had been filed too late and that they would have to submit their claims like any other creditor under the bankruptcy plan.

However, in the 9 th Circuit ruling, Kozinski threw out a series of rulings by US Bankruptcy Judge Marilyn Morgan later upheld by US District Judge Jeremy Fogel of the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The overturned decisions include:

  • a judgment for the company on the sex discrimination claims,
  • a judgment for the company on the women’s contract violation claims,
  • a permanent bar against the women pursuing their discrimination claims,
  • a ruling that the women didn’t prove their late court filings were due to “excusable neglect,”
  • an order for the women to pay $20,000 for ZiLOG’s attorneys fees.

The appeallete judges sent the case back to Morgan for additional hearings.

The 9 th  Circuit opinion is here .