Bayer v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc.

District court erred in dismissing plaintiff’s employment discrimination suit even though it had become moot, since plaintiff could still receive nominal damages and have his dignity interest vindicated even though he no longer worked for employer.  After waiting six years for the EEOC to issue a right to sue letter, plaintiff sued Neiman Marcus for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by interfering with his rights under that act by insisting that he sign and be bound by an arbitration provision in his employment agreement.  Meanwhile, in a parallel action, a court had already determined that the arbitration clause did not bind plaintiff.  And plaintiff was no longer employed by Neiman Marcus.  Injunctive relief and declaratory relief could no longer be issued since plaintiff was unlikely again to be affected by Neiman Marcus’ employment practices.  He had suffered no actual damages.  Nevertheless, the district court erred in dismissing the suit as moot since it could award plaintiff nominal damages as an equitable remedy, and doing so here was appropriate to do complete equity and vindicate the dignitary interest protected by the statute Neiman Marcus had violated.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Pratt, J., sitting by designation); June 26, 2017; 2017 WL 2723943 


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