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Canadian Pacific hired Holloway as a conductor in July 2014. He had disciplinary actions relating to attendance, not providing his engineer with important safety information, and violating safety and work rules. On October 18, 2015, Holloway and J.S. were moving railcars as part of building a train, using an all-purpose vehicle. J.S. drove while Holloway rode in the passenger seat. Neither fastened a seatbelt. Holloway never inspected the vehicle for safety defects, later saying he assumed J.S. had done so. A subsequent inspection revealed that the vehicle needed repairs. J.S. crashed the vehicle. Both employees sustained injuries that required medical care at a hospital. Holloway’s treatment triggered an obligation for Canadian Pacific to report his injury to the Federal Railroad Administration. J.S.’s injury was minor. Canadian Pacific notified the employees that an investigation and hearing would follow. J.S. was furloughed and did not attend. Holloway attended the hearing with a union representative. The hearing officer determined that Holloway had violated Canadian Pacific’s seatbelt requirement and a rule requiring him to inspect for and report safety defects. The report canvassed Holloway’s lengthy discipline history and recommended termination. Canadian Pacific fired Holloway. J.S. was not disciplined for her role in the accident. Holloway unsuccessfully appealed his dismissal and received EEOC permission to sue. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Canadian Pacific on his claim for unlawful retaliation for filing an injury claim, in violation of the Federal Railway Safety Act. View "Holloway v. Soo Line Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Ruark was working for Union Pacific, using a hydraulic rail drill. Ruark was involved connecting the drill to the hydraulic lines and used the machine to drill several holes without noticing any leaking fluid or other malfunction. As he drilled the last hole, Ruark reached down to turn the drill off. Hot fluid sprayed over him, including in his eyes. Ruark declined medical attention. The supervisor sent him home to clean up. Ruark returned the following day, but did not do much work, because, he claims, “it hurt too bad.” Ruark saw his regular nurse practitioner the next day, for “sinus and stomach problems.” Ruark did not return to work because he was convicted of a felony unrelated to the accident. Ruark sued under the Federal Employers Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51-60. Ruark’s prison sentence interrupted his trial preparation. The judge denied a motion for a continuance because the case had been pending for almost three years, Ruark had been well represented by his initial counsel, and Ruark's incarceration did not justify reopening exhausted deadlines and allowing Ruark to begin discovery anew. The judge allowed Ruark’s trial testimony by video deposition and deposition of Ruark’s treating physician. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of Ruark’s theory of negligence based on res ipsa loquitur. That doctrine requires that the defendant was in control of the instrumentality that caused the injury and that the plaintiff was not also negligent; those conditions were not met. A jury could not assume that “the matter spoke for itself.” The court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to grant a continuance. View "Ruark v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Walker had worked at Ingersoll since 2008 and had a history of conflict with coworkers. On October 21, 2014, Walker was listening to music while working. Rafferty told Walker to mute the radio. Walker alleges that he was “bumped” and threatened with additional violence. Ingersoll questions whether physical contact or threats occurred. The men engaged in a shouting match. The unit supervisor, Thompson, calmed them down. Walker returned to work; Rafferty went home. They worked without incident on October 22. On October 23, Walker met with Thompson and another supervisor. Walker told Thompson that he no longer trusted or respected him because he had not disciplined Rafferty and suggested that the conflict with Rafferty was affecting his physical wellbeing. The supervisors suspended Walker with pay while determining how to proceed. On October 26, Thompson and his supervisor decided to terminate Walker’s employment. The human resources manager began the termination process. On October 29, Walker’s attorney informed Ingersoll that he intended to sue for discrimination and retaliation unless Ingersoll brought him back to work. Walker reported the alleged physical assault to local police. The prosecutor declined to bring charges. Ingersoll formally terminated Walker’s employment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Ingersoll. Walker had abandoned his Title VII racial discrimination claims and did not identify a causal connection between his termination and conduct protected by Illinois law. View "Walker v. Ingersoll Cutting Tool Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the award of attorney’s fees to Plaintiffs under the fee-shifting provisions of the Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148, 150, holding that the “catalyst test” applied to the Wage Act claims and that the trial judge correctly found that Plaintiffs satisfied that test in this case. Plaintiffs were employees who filed a claim against their employer. The end result was a favorable settlement agreement and stipulation of dismissal. Plaintiffs then filed a motion for attorney’s fees. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the test for determining prevailing party status under federal fee-shifting statutes was the test established by Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001). The judge concluded that the catalyst test and not the Buckhannon test applied to Massachusetts fee-shifting statues and that, under this test, Plaintiffs were “prevailing parties” for purposes of an award of attorney’s fees and costs. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the catalyst test applies to Wage Act claims; and (2) the trial judge did not err in finding that Plaintiffs satisfied the catalyst test in this case. View "Ferman v. Sturgis Cleaners, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on Plaintiff’s claims asserting violations of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, et seq., holding that summary judgment was proper as to the Rehabilitation Act and FMLA retaliation claims but was not warranted as to Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim. Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, asserted that Defendant discriminated against her and violated the FMLA by not hiring her for a permanent position following her completion of a five-year term. After exhausting her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on all counts. The Fourth Circuit held (1) the district court properly granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s Rehabilitation act and FMLA retaliation claims; but (2) summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim was precluded because a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether Plaintiff provided notice of her disability and interest in FMLA leave sufficient to trigger Defendant’s duty to inquire. View "Hannah P. v. Coats" on Justia Law

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The 2011 Virgin Islands Economic Stability Act (VIESA) sought to reduce government spending by reducing payroll while continuing to provide necessary public services. VIESA offered some of the government’s most expensive employees (with at least 30 years of credited service) $10,000 to chose to retire within three months. Those declining to retire had to contribute an additional 3% of their salary to the Government Employees Retirement System starting at the end of those three months. Two members of the System with over 30 years of credited service who chose not to retire claimed that the 3% charge violated federal and territorial laws protecting workers over the age of 40 from discrimination based on their age. The Third Circuit found the provision valid because it did not target employees because of their age under the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggin; its focus on credited years of service entitles the government to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)’s reasonable-factor-other-than-age defense. The Third Circuit concluded that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court would deem the provision consistent with existing territorial anti-discrimination statutes. View "Bryan v. Government of the Virgin Islands" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, alleging a claim under the anti-retaliation provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The district court concluded that the employer's decision to fire plaintiff was not prohibited retaliation and that plaintiff did not have an objectively reasonable belief that a violation of reporting requirements had occurred. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that paragraph 22 of the declaration of plaintiff's witness was impermissible expert testimony. Therefore, there was no genuine issue of material act as to whether plaintiff's purported belief that his employer was misreporting its revenue was objectively reasonable in light of the undisputed facts. View "Wallace v. Andeavor Corp." on Justia Law

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In this declaratory relief action, the trial court ruled the Orange County Department of Education (Employer) had to pay approximately $3.3 million in additional contributions to fund pension benefits promised to its employees. Employer argued the Court of Appeal should independently review the legal issues raised in its complaint because the judgment arose from an order granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Applying this standard, the Court nevertheless reached the same conclusion as the trial court: the requested payment from Employer, which related to an unfunded liability of its employees’ pension benefits, was permissible and did not violate the California constitution. View "Mijares v. Orange Co. Employees Retirement System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jorge Fierro filed suit on behalf of himself and others like him against defendant Landry's Restaurants, Inc., seeking remedies for what Fierro alleged to be Landry's Restaurants's violations of specified California labor laws and wage orders. Landry's Restaurants demurred to the complaint on the basis that each of the causes of action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. As to Fierro's individual claims, the trial court overruled the demurrer, concluding that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint. As to the class claims, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on the basis that a prior class action with identical class claims against Landry's Restaurants had been dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial in five years as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310 and 583.360. Under the "death knell" doctrine, Fierro appealed that portion of the order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer to the class claims. Previously, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion reversing the order on the basis that the applicable statutes of limitations on the class claims had been tolled. However, the California Supreme Court granted review and transferred the matter to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate the opinion and to reconsider the cause in light of the United States Supreme Court's opinion in China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh, 138 S.Ct. 1800 (2018) an opinion issued following the filing of the appellate court's opinion but before issuance of the remittitur. After vacating its decision, the Court of Appeal requested and received supplemental briefing from the parties as to the potential application of China Agritech to the issues presented in this appeal. In determining whether the statutes of limitations barred Fierro's class claims, the Court of Appeal concluded there was no basis on which to apply equitable (or any other form of) tolling. Although that determination will result in at least some of the class's claims being time-barred, on the record, the Court could not say that all of the class's claims were untimely. Thus, the Court reversed the order sustaining Fierro's demurrer without leave to amend and remanded for further proceedings in which the trial court could decide, on a more developed record, issues related to class certification and/or timeliness of class claims. View "Fierro v. Landry's Restaurant, Inc." on Justia Law

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The panel opinion, special concurrence, and dissent previously issued in this case were withdrawn, and the following opinions were substituted in their place. Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, BNSF, for disability discrimination and retaliation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and later placed on medical leave. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to BNSF on plaintiff's disability discrimination claim because there was a fact issue as to whether BNSF discriminated against plaintiff. However, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the retaliation claim and held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of an unlawful retaliation. View "Nall v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law