Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

by
Allegis and its two subsidiaries filed suit against four employees to recoup the incentive payments made to them under the company's incentive plan on the ground that the employees failed to satisfy the plan's conditions for payment. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Allegis and order requiring the employees to return the incentive payments that they had already received. The court held that the conditions for payment were legally enforceable and that the record indisputably showed that the former employees did not comply with them. In this case, the employees voluntarily elected to participate in the incentive plan and agreed to abide by the specified conditions for receipt of the incentive payments. Because the employees failed to do so, they were not entitled to retain the incentive payments. View "Allegis Group, Inc. v. Jordan" on Justia Law

by
On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The en banc court held that plaintiff's prior rate of pay was not a "factor other than sex" that allows Fresno County's Office of Education to pay her less than male employees who perform the same work. The en banc court also held that only job-related factors may serve as affirmative defenses to EPA claims. The en banc court wrote that the express purpose of the Act was to eradicate the practice of paying women less simply because they are women, and that allowing employers to escape liability by relying on employees' prior pay would defeat the purpose of the Act and perpetuate the very discrimination the EPA aims to eliminate. Therefore, the en banc court held that an employee's prior pay cannot serve as an affirmative defense to a prima facie showing of an EPA violation. The en banc court overruled Kouba v. Allstate Ins. Co., 691 F.2d 873 (9th Cir. 1982), which held that prior pay could qualify as an affirmative defense if the employer considered prior pay in combination with other factors and used it reasonably to effectuate a business policy. View "Rizo v. Yovino" on Justia Law

by
Fisher began working on Nissan’s factory floor in 2003. At his 10-year evaluation, he met requirements in 16 categories and exceeded requirements in the remaining six; he had few disciplinary incidents. In 2015, Fisher went on extended leave for severe kidney disease and, ultimately, a kidney transplant. When he returned to work, he was still recovering from the transplant, and his attendance suffered. Fisher proposed several different accommodations, some of which were not provided. When he received a final written warning about his attendance, he left work and did not return. Fisher filed suit, claiming that Nissan failed to accommodate his disability and to engage in the interactive process, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101. The district court granted Nissan summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part. Factual disputes as to Nissan’s policies regarding assignment to easier positions remain. A factfinder could conclude that Fisher was qualified for a vacant inspection position he identified and that he requested and was denied assistance in identifying other available positions and could conclude that Nissan bears the responsibility for its failure to respond to Fisher’s renewed requests for accommodation. The court affirmed the rejection of a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Fisher v. Nissan N.A., Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit against the school district and its superintendent, alleging free speech and retaliation claims in violation of their First Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983; Article 1, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution; and the Texas Whistleblower Act. Plaintiffs, the former principal and assistant principal of an elementary school, served on a 504 committee which convened for the purpose of implementing regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Plaintiffs were terminated after an investigation determined that they intentionally authorized inappropriate student testing accommodations based on a misapplication of Section 504 eligibility requirements. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the superintendent was entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established at the time whether First Amendment liability can attach to a public official who did not make the final employment decision. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's First Amendment claims, because plaintiffs' calls to TEA regarding Section 504 construction and application at the elementary school were clearly activities undertaken in the course of performing their jobs and these actions were therefore not protected by the First Amendment. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs were not entitled to recover lost wages because they failed to exercise reasonable diligence to mitigate their damages; the district court did not err in denying plaintiffs' motion for rescission or modification; the district court did not err in instructing the jury that the IHE's findings were preclusive; and the district court did not err in relying on the jury's verdict that plaintiffs did not report a violation of law in good faith. View "Powers v. Northside Independent School District" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for wrongful discharge from employment, violation of Montana constitutional and administrative rights to privacy, and tortious defamation, holding that the district court did not err. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether DOC discharged Plaintiff for good cause, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's wrongful discharge claim; (2) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether DOC discharged Plaintiff in violation of its written personnel policy, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's wrongful discharge claim; (3) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim that DOC violated her right to privacy under Mont. Const. art. II, 10 and Admin. R. M. 2.21.6615; and (4) the district court did not err in concluding that derogatory statements made by DOC to the Montana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council were privileged under Mont. Code Ann. 27-1-804(2). View "Speer v. State, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act. The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law

by
Lee, a public-school teacher, was required to either join the union or pay fair-share fees as a non-member because the collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the union included a fair-share clause. Lee paid fair-share fees. Anticipating that the Supreme Court would overrule its precedent endorsing fair-share fees (Abood), Lee filed a putative class action, asserting that the union and state actors had violated her constitutional rights by imposing compulsory fair-share fees as a condition of employment. She sought a declaration that provisions of Ohio law were unconstitutional and damages. Two days later, the Supreme Court issued its "Janus" decision, reasoning that fair-share fees resulted in non-members being “forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities,” thereby violating the free speech rights of non-members. Lee dismissed her claims against the state officials and the school district. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the union. The union, as a private actor sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, was entitled to rely on its good faith in following existing Ohio law and Supreme Court precedent. The state-law conversion count failed to state a plausible claim for relief. View "Lee v. Ohio Education Association" on Justia Law

by
Dr. Dennis Rivero appealed the grant of summary judgment awarded in favor of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents (Defendant). Dr. Rivero was employed full-time by the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) from 1992 until early 2007, when he voluntarily decreased his workload to one day per month while he worked full-time in Oklahoma. After several months on this schedule, Rivero asked the chair of the UNMH orthopedics department, Dr. Robert Schenck, if he could return to full-time or three-quarter-time employment. For several years nothing came of this request, and Rivero continued to work in Oklahoma while spending only one day per month performing surgeries at UNMH. In December 2010, Schenck and Rivero agreed that Rivero could gradually reach a three-quarter-time position if he complied with certain conditions, namely that Rivero “attend four counseling sessions” before his workload would be increased. UNMH sent Rivero an addendum to his employment contract (the Addendum) to formalize the terms of the agreement. Rivero was “shocked by the requirements of the Addendum” and sought access to his personnel files. The University refused to turn over his files and withdrew the Addendum about two weeks later. Rivero continued to work one day a month at UNMH. After UNMH refused to let his see his personnel files, Rivero petitioned for a writ of mandamus in New Mexico state court seeking an order that UNMH provide him access to the files. The court ordered production of the files, and by January 2014 Rivero had received his complete files. He resigned from his position with UNMH a few months later, and pursued relief with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the Agency, Rivero filed the underlying suit, alleging UNMH violated the Rehabilitation Act by requiring psychiatric evaluations and constructively discharging him on the basis of a perceived disability. After review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded summary judgment was appropriate: (1) Rivero’s claim relating to the Rehabilitation Act was untimely; and (2) his claim that he was constructively discharged was not supported by the evidence presented. View "Rivero v. Univ. N.M. Board of Regents" on Justia Law

by
The State appealed a Labor Relations Board decision that grievant Jacob Carnelli, a former correctional officer who was eligible for mandatory reemployment pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA), met the minimum qualifications for a position at the Department of Motor Vehicles requiring at least two years of “office clerical experience.” The Vermont Supreme Court concluded that the Board overstepped its authority by failing to apply the minimum qualifications as established by the DMV, and therefore reversed. View "In re Grievance of Jacob Carnelli" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court upholding the final agency action of the Employment Appeal Board (EAB) denying unemployment benefits, holding that substantial evidence supported the EAB's determination that Employee voluntarily quit. Employee was employed with a temporary employment agency. The agency informed Employee by phone that the workplace where she had been assigned was ending her assignment, after which Employee hung up the phone. Thereafter, Employee applied for unemployment benefits and did not attempt to resume contact with the agency for almost five weeks. In denying benefits, the EAB determined that Employee voluntarily quit her employment without good cause attributable to the employer. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the EAB's determination that Employee voluntarily quit was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) substantial evidence supported the EAB's finding that Employee did not meet the safe harbor in Iowa Code 96.5(1)(j)(1) relating specifically to temporary employees of temporary employment firms. View "Sladek v. Employment Appeal Board" on Justia Law