Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Eaton was an apprentice in 2011 when Local 139 dispatched her to Findorff. At the end of Eaton’s first day on the job Findorff’s Project Superintendent, Szymkowski, terminated Eaton, concluding that she was inadequately trained. Local 139 filed a grievance. Findorff agreed to hire Eaton for a different job when that position became available. Weeks later, Findorff hired Eaton. Szymkowski privately told Eaton that she was slow and inefficient but rated her an average apprentice when filling out reports, which addressed only her technical skills. In late 2011, Findorff found itself overstaffed and implemented a rotating layoff schedule. Eaton filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that her layoff amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex; her complaint was dismissed. In August 2012, Findorff no longer needed a skip hoist operator and her employment was terminated.In 2017, Eaton left a resume at Findorff. Szymkowski told the company’s receptionist that he would not rehire her. Later, a position opened. Local 139 notified Findorff’s receptionist that it was dispatching Eaton. Szymkowski sent a letter to Local 139, declining to hire Eaton due to past performance issues.The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Findorff. Eaton waived a claim of sex discrimination. She lacks any evidence that the decision-makers knew that she had engaged in protected activity; she has failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact in support of causation for her retaliation claim. View "Eaton v. J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc." on Justia Law

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Employer-appointed trustees filed a complaint in the district court seeking the appointment of an impartial umpire to resolve a deadlock on a motion, pursuant to Section 302(c)(5) of the Labor Management Relations Act, brought by one of the employer-appointed trustees. The district court dismissed the complaint and declined to appoint an umpire.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that, based on the entirety of the Trust Agreement, the delegation proposed by the employer trustees' motion is beyond the trustees' authority to implement. The court explained that because the proposed delegation and amendment to the Trust Agreement are beyond the trustees' authority to implement, the deadlocked motion is not a matter arising in connection with the administration of the plan or a matter within the trustees' jurisdiction. Therefore, the Trust Agreement does not authorize the appointment of a neutral umpire to resolve the deadlocked motion. Furthermore, because the court found that adopting the employer trustees' proposed motion would require amending the Trust Agreement, the court also necessarily concluded that the deadlocked motion does not concern trust fund "administration" under section 302(c)(5). Accordingly, the deadlocked motion is not a matter of trust "administration" under either the Trust Agreement or section 302(c)(5), and thus the district court did not err in declining to appoint an umpire. View "Gillick v. Elliott" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the order of the circuit court concluding that a "subsistence allowance" provided by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) to Natural Resources Police Officers is "compensation" for purposes of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), holding that the allowance was not compensation.Beginning in 1997, DNR reported the payments of the subsistence allowances to the Consolidated Public Retirement Board as part of the officers' "compensation," which is a key component in calculating the officers' retirement annuities under PERS. In 2014, the Board determined that the subsistence allowance was not compensation and that the error had led to the miscalculation of benefits paid to retired officers. Respondents - current and retired officers and their widowers and widows - appealed and requested declaratory relief with the Board, alleging that the Board's determination violated their vested pension rights. The Board denied relief, but the circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the subsistence allowance was not compensation under PERS; and (2) the Board may not recover the excess retirement benefits already paid due to the error in treating the allowance as PERS compensation. View "W. Va. Consolidated Public Retirement Board v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Gould was appointed as a business agent for the Carpenters Regional Council by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST). Gould began complaining of financial and administrative waste in 2008. The EST removed Gould. Gould sued, asserting wrongful termination. Gould received voluminous Council documents in discovery and, in a letter to the EST, outlined alleged financial improprieties and breaches of fiduciary duties. The Council hired the Calibre accounting firm to perform an audit and invited Gould to assist in the investigation. Gould questioned Calibre’s independence but agreed to provide documents.Gould subsequently sought to amend his state court suit to add Labor Code breach of fiduciary duty counts against the EST, 29 U.S.C. 501(b). The Council declared that the EST’s approval of expenditures was outside the scope of Gould’s demand letter and therefore “Calibre was not asked to investigate” The state court denied Gould leave to add the claims. The documents Gould provided were never forwarded by the Council's attorney to Calibre. The audit concluded that the Council’s expense reimbursement policy was sound. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Gould’s motion for leave to file a federal complaint under 29 U.S.C. 501(b) against the EST. A union member who files a Section 501(b) lawsuit after a union has taken action in response to the member’s request should show an objectively reasonable ground for belief that the union’s accounting or other action was not legitimate. Gould failed to make the necessary showing and failed to meet the condition precedent of a timely and appropriate request to sue or recover damages or secure an accounting or other appropriate relief within a reasonable time. View "Gould v. Bond" on Justia Law

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Vestal was an IRS Agent and routinely had access to personally identifiable and other taxpayer information. She received annual “Privacy, Information Protection and Disclosure training.” In 2018, Vestal received a notice of proposed suspension for displaying discourteous and unprofessional conduct and for failing to follow managerial directives. In preparing her defense, she sent her attorney a record from a taxpayer’s file, which included personally identifiable and other taxpayer information. Vestal’s attorney was not authorized to receive such information. Vestal sent the record without obtaining authorization, without making redactions, and without relying on advice from legal counsel. Dubois, the deciding official, decided to remove Vestal from service, explaining in his removal letter “that a removal will promote the efficiency of the Service and that a lesser penalty would be inadequate.”The Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed an administrative judge in sustaining her removal. The disclosure was “very serious,” and intentional. The agency’s table of penalties recommends removal for any first offense of intentional disclosures of taxpayer information to unauthorized persons. While Vestal stated that she incorrectly believed that attorney-client privilege protected the disclosure, the administrative judge explained that Vestal nevertheless did “act[] intentionally.” Vestal’s prior suspension was aggravating; her job performance and her 10 years of service were mitigating though also supporting that she had ample notice of the seriousness of unauthorized disclosures of taxpayer information. View "Vestal v. Department of the Treasury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Activate Healthcare, LLC under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Plaintiff's factual allegations against Activate were insufficient to establish a claim of aiding and abetting under the West Virginia Human Rights Act.Plaintiff was working at Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC when she requested a change in her duties to accommodate her medical condition. Plaintiff was directed to Activate, Constellium's on-site medical provider, for a physical activity report, but Activate issued more than one report. Constellium terminated Plaintiff based on one of the reports and later returned to work. After Plaintiff unsuccessfully filed a grievance seeking lost wages during her break in employment she sued Constellium, Activate, and other defendants, alleging retaliation and discrimination. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff's aiding and abetting claim against Activate for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that nothing in the complaint could be construed to establish the elements of an aiding and abetting claim. View "Boone vs. Activate Healthcare, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings holding that this case came within the jurisdictional reach of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and that the district court did not err either in denying Plaintiff's motion to remand or in granting judgment for the pleadings for Defendant.Plaintiff, an employee of Defendant, brought this action in a Massachusetts state court asserting violations of the Commonwealth's labor laws. Plaintiff sought recovery of compensation for unpaid wages and expenses, unpaid overtime, and damages for Defendant's alleged failure to account for her travel time and to maintain required payroll records. Defendant removed the suit to federal district court. Plaintiff moved to remand the case, arguing that her claims arose exclusively under state law. The district court denied the remand motion and subsequently granted Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. View "Rose v. RTN Federal Credit Union" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Commission in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that the Commission discriminated against her in violation of Title VII. Plaintiff argues that her suspension, probation, and termination were discrimination based on race and national origin. The Commission stated that plaintiff's termination was due to failure to comply with requests to provide company passwords to agency programs and documents. The court concluded that plaintiff did not show evidence of pretext or that she could satisfy the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework before the district court or in her opening brief, and thus she cannot prove a circumstantial case of discrimination. View "Towery v. Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, four Black firefighters who suffer from a skin condition that causes pain and sometimes scarring when they shave their facial hair, filed suit alleging that the FDNY discriminated against them in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and various other laws. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from the FDNY's refusal to offer them a medical accommodation to the department's grooming policy. The policy requires firefighters to be clean shaven in the areas where an oxygen mask or "respirator" seals against their skin.The Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on their ADA claim, holding that the OSHA regulation, 29 C.F.R. 1910.134(g)(1)(i)(A), unambiguously prohibits plaintiffs' proposed accommodation and that a binding federal regulation presents a complete defense to an ADA failure-to-accommodate claim. Furthermore, plaintiffs waived the issue of alternative accommodation because they failed to raise it until their reply brief on appeal. The court also concluded that plaintiffs' Title VII disparate impact claim mirrors their ADA claim and meets a similar fate. The court explained that, although plaintiffs have made a prima facie case, the FDNY has conclusively rebutted that case by showing that complying with the respiratory-protection standard is a business necessity. Just as in the ADA context, the court concluded that Title VII cannot be used to require employers to depart from binding federal regulations. Nor can the court agree with plaintiffs that the FDNY's failure to consistently enforce the respiratory-protection standard means that complying with the regulation is not a business necessity. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Bey v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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After Houston Methodist fired plaintiff following a job candidate's allegation that he had sexually harassed him, plaintiff filed suit against Houston Methodist for sex discrimination, retaliation, and race discrimination under Title VII.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the sex discrimination and retaliation claims because plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. In this case, plaintiff failed to establish that he satisfied the EEOC verification requirements for a charge. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the race discrimination claim where plaintiff failed to show that he was replaced or that a comparator received more favorable treatment. View "Ernst v. Methodist Hospital" on Justia Law