Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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A physician group fired Post, a nurse-anesthesist, months after she suffered an accident. The group’s subsequent bankruptcy impeded Post’s efforts to hold it liable for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She instead sued the hospital at which she worked. Although the hospital did not employ her, Post argued that two statutes allow her to enforce the ADA’s employment protections against non-employers.The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the hospital. The ADA “interference” provision makes it “unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of” an ADA-protected right. 42 U.S.C. 12203(b) does not allow plaintiffs with disabilities to sue entities that are not their employers. A nearby subsection clarifies that the provision incorporates remedies that permit suits only against employers. The civil-conspiracy provision in the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) authorizes a damages suit when two or more parties “conspire” to “depriv[e]” “any person or class of persons” of “the equal protection of the laws” or the “equal privileges and immunities under the laws” but does permit a plaintiff to assert a conspiracy claim against an entity that is not the plaintiff’s employer for the deprivation of an ADAprotected employment right. View "Post v. Trinity Health-Michigan" on Justia Law

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The case concerns the extent of an employer’s obligation to provide accommodations to a job applicant with a disability under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (incorporating the standard set forth in Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act) and under generally parallel state and city law. Plaintiff alleged that MTA Bus discriminated against him on the basis of his disability when it denied him the assistance of an American Sign Language interpreter for its knowledge-based pre-employment examination. The district court ruled that Plaintiff must show that he was “otherwise qualified” for the Assistant Stockworker position to maintain his Rehabilitation Act claim and that, at summary judgment, Plaintiff had not met this requirement.The Second Circuit affirmed. The court first considered whether an applicant who cannot establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether he is “otherwise qualified” for the desired employment position can survive summary judgment on a failure-to-accommodate claim arising from the employer’s pre-employment testing protocols. Second, the court examined whether Plaintiff made such a showing as to the Assistant Stockworker position that he sought.The court explained that there is no genuine dispute that Plaintiff—entirely independent from his hearing impairment—did not have the experience required to qualify for the desired position. MTA Bus put forth evidence that Defendant was not qualified for the Associate Stockworker position and Defendant has failed to identify any material facts in rebuttal. View "Williams v. MTA Bus Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff claimed her employment was terminated in retaliation for complaining she was going to be paid late. She filed a complaint against a department head within the Texas A&M Engineering Station in his individual capacity (“DH”), alleging he violated the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)  DH moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s retaliation claim because the suit was barred by sovereign immunity, and in the alternative, that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The district court determined that neither immunity applied.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the rejection of sovereign immunity as a defense, affirmed the denial of the defense of sovereign immunity and vacated the judgment denying the defense of qualified immunity. The court held that holding public officials individually liable for retaliation under the FLSA also is consistent with the court’s prior holdings regarding individual liability in other FLSA contexts. However, the court wrote it discovered no Fifth Circuit opinion that holds qualified immunity is a defense under the FLSA. The court concluded that Plaintiff’s claim would be barred by qualified immunity because she does not allege that DH violated a clearly established law. However, the antecedent question is whether qualified immunity applies to the FLSA to begin with. The court, therefore, remanded for the district court to decide this question in the first instance. View "Stramaski v. Lawley" on Justia Law

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The 2008 financial crisis caused GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. In Europe, Fiat faced similar troubles. Fiat CEO Marchionne forged a relationship with the United Auto Workers (UAW). Fiat negotiated a partial purchase of Chrysler. Chrysler and the UAW agreed to Marchionne’s request to jettison certain traditional union protections. The companies emerged from bankruptcy with the UAW large percentages of their equity.GM alleges that Marchionne subsequently implemented a bribery scheme to revive Chrysler and harm GM. Fiat acquired the UAW’s stake in Chrysler. The new entity, “FCA,” allegedly “began a long-running intentional scheme of improper payments" to UAW officials … to influence the collective bargaining process, providing Chrysler with labor peace and competitive advantages. GM rejected Marchionne's proposal for a merger in 2015; although bribed UAW executives pressed GM to agree. During subsequent collective bargaining, the UAW and FCA allegedly conspired “to force enormous costs on GM.”In 2017, the Justice Department criminally charged numerous FCA executives and UAW officials. Several entered guilty pleas. FCA pleaded guilty and agreed to a $30 million fine. The UAW agreed to a consent decree, requiring federal monitoring.GM sued FCA, Fiat, and individuals, asserting RICO claims, 18 U.S.C. 1962(b), (c), and (d). The district court dismissed. Assuming that FCA committed RICO violations, they were either indirect or too remote to have proximately caused GM’s alleged injuries. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, first rejecting an argument that the NLRB had exclusive jurisdiction. The court noted the existence of a more “immediate victim,” the FCA workers, “better situated to sue.” GM has not alleged that it would have received the same benefits as FCA absent the corruption. View "General Motors, LLC v. FCA US, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal presents the question of whether the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) may order an employer to reimburse a union for legal fees incurred during the contract bargaining process. The Ninth Circuit held that it may, and granted the NLRB’s petition for enforcement of its compliance order.The Board found that the employer engaged in unusually aggravated misconduct sufficient to warrant more than a traditional remedy, and ordered the employer to reimburse the union for the costs and expenses the union incurred during collective bargaining sessions. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit upheld the Board’s findings and enforced its orders in full. The parties could not reach an agreement on the total amount the employer should be required to pay in remedies, and in July 2018, the Regional Director for NLRB Region 27 issued a compliance specification detailing how much the employer owed.The court rejected the employer’s argument that D.C. Circuit precedent established that the Board lacked the power to order the reimbursement of legal fees. The court held that the D.C. Circuit’s opinions were specifically limited to the context of litigation, and they did not bar the award at issue here. The National Labor Relations Act grants the Board broad discretion to impose remedies for unfair labor practices. The court held that the award of legal fees, in this case, was exactly the sort of remedy that courts have upheld as within the Board’s statutory remedial authority. View "NLRB V. AMPERSAND PUBLISHING, LLC" on Justia Law

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After IAC signed an Employment Agreement with Roston making him its CEO, the relationship soured. Roston disagreed with his employer about the value of his stock appreciation rights. He became the CEO of Bluecrew, another affiliate of IAC’s parent company, but the employment relationship deteriorated until Roston was terminated. His former employers later discovered that Roston had retained a company laptop, documents, and confidential data. The companies sought declarations that Roston was not entitled to more payments based on the stock appreciation rights and was not wrongfully terminated and alleged breach of contract.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint by an Illinois district court, citing the forum non conveniens doctrine. The district court balanced the relevant public interest factors reasonably and noted little local Illinois interest. The Employment Agreement stated that it “shall be governed by and construed under and in accordance with the internal laws of the State of California without reference to its principles of conflicts of laws. Any such dispute will be heard and determined before an appropriate federal court located in the State of California in Alameda County … each party hereto submits itself and its property to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the foregoing courts with respect to such disputes. Roston had filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court, alleging wrongful termination. View "IAC/InterActiveCorp v. Roston" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Thompson was accepted a position as the Education Unit Supervisor for the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF) with a one-year probationary period. Thompson’s predecessor, Porter, successfully contested her termination. In 2017, Thompson was informed that Porter would be reinstated as Education Supervisor and that Thompson would become the Transition Coordinator. DSCYF did not permit Thompson to pursue a grievance. Thompson worked as the Transition Coordinator for several weeks, then had emergency surgery in May 2017. Thompson’s probationary period was set to end in July 2017. Unbeknownst to Thompson, her probationary period was extended. Thompson returned to work in October 2017. DSCYF demoted Thompson to a teaching position. Thompson was not allowed to contest the demotion. Thompson lacked the necessary special education certifications for her new position. Porter recommended in April 2018 that Thompson be terminated for failure to obtain special education certifications. Thompson filed a grievance. Thompson was terminated from DSCYF on July 2, 2018.The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Thompson’s claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violations of her due process rights. As a former probationary employee at DSCYF, Thompson did not have a protected property interest in her employment. Thompson’s claim under the Delaware Whistleblowers’ Protection Act was dismissed because the Eleventh Amendment precluded the claim. View "Thompson v. State of Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families" on Justia Law

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Three Anoka County residents sued a school district and teachers’ union about their union leave and reimbursement plan, alleging constitutional and statutory violations. The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing. The residents appealed.   The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment. The court explained that pleading jurisdiction requires only “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction,” while pleading the merits requires not just “a short and plain statement of the claim,” but one that “show[s] that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Here, the residents adequately alleged they are school district taxpayers and identified a “municipal action” contributing to their injury. Specifically, the school district spends tax revenues on the allegedly illegal action because the collective-bargaining agreement requires it to provide up to 100 days of paid leave, and the union does not fully reimburse that expense. Since the district court did not address the preliminary injunction factors, the common approach is to remand for the district court to conduct the full analysis in the first instance. View "Don Huizenga v. ISD No. 11" on Justia Law

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In this tort suit brought against an employer by an employee the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying both parties' motions for summary judgment, holding that the court erred in denying the employer's motion for summary judgment.The employee in this case died after falling off the roof of a building he was working on for a subcontractor. After the employee's estate brought this tort action the employer moved for summary judgment, asserting that under S.D. Codified Laws 62-3-2, workers' compensation was the estate's exclusive remedy. In response, the estate argued that the exception to S.D. Codified Laws 52.-3-2 for intentional torts applied. The circuit court denied summary judgment for either party. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that there was no issue of material of fact in dispute on the question of whether the employer committed an intentional tort in this case. View "Althoff v. Pro-Tec Roofing, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' hybrid breach of contract and fair representation claim, their Takings Clause claim, and their claim for declaratory relief, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Plaintiffs, five sergeants in the City of Cranston Police Department, brought this lawsuit against the City of Cranston, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 301 (the Union), and Matthew Josefson. Plaintiffs were promoted to the rank of sergeant during the time period between Josefson's demotion and reinstatement and then, after Josefson's reinstatement, moved down one position in sergeant rank seniority. Plaintiffs brought suit, alleging several claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' claims failed. View "Barth v. City of Cranston" on Justia Law