I generally do not cover on this blog the decisions from the Delaware Superior Court, (Delaware’s "workhouse" trial court of general jurisdiction). Although I have summarized on these pages, a few opinions from that court that I thought would be of special interest to business litigators, and I am sure there are many good decisions from that court that I could cover, summarizing on this blog all the key business cases from Delaware’s Chancery Court and Supreme Court, and occasional selected decisions from the U.S. District Court and Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, is about as much as my schedule will allow. The foregoing is my introduction for a case that I think is quite noteworthy (and that I have time this week to cover on this blog.)
In Boscov’s Dept. Store v. Jackson, (Del. Super. Ct., Feb. 12, 2007), read opinion here, the Delaware Superior Court interpreted Delaware’s Equal Accomodation’s Statute, 6 Del. C. Section 4504, a state civil rights statute that should be of interest to business litigators and the businesses they represent. The court’s opinion upheld an adverse decision, including fines, imposed by Delaware’s Human Rights Commission. The court discussed the relative burdens of proof at the Commission level when discrimination is alleged, as well as the relevant standard of review when the Superior Court reviews a decision of the Commission in the court’s capacity as an limited appellate court for decisions of certain state agencies and commissions. The case involved the impact from the cancellation of courses that a local department store offered to the community. However, due to circumstances surrounding the store’s cancellation of the classes, some of the persons registered for those classes filed a complaint alleging that despite the stated reason, the real reason that the courses were cancelled was due to a discriminatory purpose.
The opinion examines the federal and state case law applicable to allegations of discrimination claims in general and the requirements for successful claims and defenses. Of course, familiarity with the issues addressed in this case would be helpful for any business litigator whose clients invite members of the public into their businesses. It would also be useful for a business litigator to be aware of the general legal concepts discussed concerning claims of discrimination in general, as all businesses are subject to such allegations (whether or not they are true.)