Casa Marshall and her four brothers inherited a trucking company from their father. Casa had started working for her father as a driver. After his death she became the company’s office manager and human resources officer. Casa and her brothers were directors of the company and had equal voting rights. Casa later became the company’s vice-president.
Casa became ill and took time off for surgery. Following her return to work her brothers became dissatisfied with Casa’s job performance and eventually terminated her employment. Casa filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which declined to prosecute her case. She filed suit in federal court claiming that the company had retaliated against her for exercising her rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and for gender and disability discrimination under Title VII, the federal anti-discrimination law.
The district court granted the company’s motion for summary judgment because Casa was not an “employee” within the meaning of the FMLA and Title VII, which defines an “employee” as an individual employed by an employer. The court stated that an employer “is the person, or group of persons, who owns and manages the enterprise [who] can hire and fire employees, can assign tasks to employees and supervise their performance, and can decide how the profits and losses of the business are to be distributed [and] are those whose authority and interests are so aligned with the business as to render them the legal personification of the business, i.e., principals rather than agents.” Because Casa fell within the definition of employer, the court decided that she was not an employer and, therefore, not protected under Title VII or the FMLA. (Marshall v. G.E. Marshall, Inc. Case No. 2:09-cv-198 APR (N.D. Ind., April 14, 2014).