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The First Circuit affirmed the entry of a jury verdict awarding over $1.3 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages to Plaintiff, a black female former employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), who claimed that her supervisors at the MBTA conspired to terminate her employment because of her race. The Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the compensatory damages award for wrongful termination and to justify the punitive damages amount; (2) the trial judge committed clear error in imposing a sanction for removing the entry of default, but the MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced by the default sanction order; (3) MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced when the trial judge allowed a hostile work environment theory not explicitly pled in the complaint to go to the jury; and (4) MBTA waived its claim that it should be able to take advantage of Buntin v. City of Boston, 857 F.3d 69 (1st Cir. 2017), decided while this case was on appeal. View "Dimanche v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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An employee must be driving a personal vehicle in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident to extend vicarious liability to an employer. Liability may be imposed on an employer for an employee's tortious conduct while driving to or from work, if at the time of the accident, the employee's use of a personal vehicle was required by the employer or otherwise provided a benefit to the employer. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment imposing liability on the employer in an action where an employee driving home from work on a day that he did not have any job duties outside of the office injured a third party. The court held that the evidence showed that the employee in this case was driving a routine commute to and from work on the day of the accident, and he was not required to use his personal vehicle for work purposes that day. Furthermore, the employer did not otherwise benefit from his use of a personal vehicle that day. Therefore, the employer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Newland v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Flanagan sued under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 20003, alleging that two coworkers threatened her life because she previously successfully sued their shared employer, the Cook County Adult Probation Department, for discrimination and retaliation. Flanagan claims that her colleague overheard human-resources director Vaughan, tell deputy chief, Loizon, “to figure out a way to get [Flanagan] alone and away from her partner.” On March 13, 2008, Loizon radioed for Flanagan to join him and another supervisor at an Adult Probation facility to question a probationer regarding a potential tip. After the questioning, Loizon and the probationer left through the back door. The other supervisor then locked the front door and escorted Flanagan toward the back. While near the back door, Flanagan overheard Loizon say, “Do it to her when she gets out the door.” Nothing further happened. After Flanagan filed another EEOC charge, Loizon approached her in the office parking lot, exchanged words with her, and warned, "I could hit you and nobody would give a fuck.” The district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the threat to Flanagan was too oblique for a jury to conclude that she was subjected to severe or pervasive harassment. View "Flanagan v. Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County" on Justia Law

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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that full-time staff members who also teach part-time (50-75 individuals, “FTST”) were included in the Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia College Chicago (PFAC) bargaining unit for the purposes of their part-time faculty duties. Under the collective bargaining agreement’s recognition clause FTST are part-time faculty members and arguably fall under the scope of the general inclusion but also qualify as full-time staff members, which are expressly excluded from representation. An arbitrator vacated the ruling. The Seventh Circuit upheld the NLRB decision. Given the primacy of the NLRB’s determination, the countervailing arbitration decision cannot stand. The National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 159, “confers broad discretion on the Board to determine appropriate bargaining units,” because “the bargaining unit determination is a representational question reserved in the first instance to the Board.” View "Part-time Faculty Association v. Columbia College Chicago" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of disputed collective bargaining negotiations between City of Fairbanks and Public Safety Employees Association, AFSCME Local 803 (PSEA). PSEA was the labor representative for the City’s police and dispatch employees. The issue this appeal presented for the Alaska Supreme Court's review centered on whether the city council’s reconsideration and ultimate rejection of a labor agreement constituted an unfair labor practice under Alaska’s Public Employer Relations Act (the Act). An Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA) panel concluded a violation occurred, and on appeal the superior court affirmed that ruling. The Supreme Court determined the record did not support a finding of bad faith on the city’s part, and because the failure to ratify the agreement alone could not be a violation of the Act, the Court reversed the superior court’s decision affirming the ALRA panel’s ruling. View "Public Safety Employees Association v. City of Fairbanks" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted a petition seeking review of the Board's determination that the issuance of a letter seeking union dues from employees of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hawaii, who formally declined full membership in the union, was not an unfair labor practice. The court held that the Board's determination, that the letter was an obvious mistake and no reasonable employee reading it would have felt pressured to pay the demanded full union membership dues, was legally unsupportable on the record. In this case, the letter demanded payment from individuals the union knew had rejected full membership, and it simultaneously initiated the garnishment process to collect the full dues. Therefore, the letter reasonably tended to coerce or restrain the objecting Hyatt employees in the exercise of their statutory right to limit their association with the union. The court vacated the Board's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Tamosiunas v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit held that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that petitioners violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5), when they refused to recognize the Union that represented Island's collective bargaining unit as the representative of Verde's workers, and when they failed to apply the terms of Island's collective bargaining agreement to Verde. In this case, the Board determined that Verde was not a separate and independent employer, but merely Island's alter ego. Furthermore, Island's insistence that the Union renounce any present or future claim to represent workers at Verde violated the Act. Therefore, the court denied the petitions for review and granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "Island Architectural Woodwork v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s claims challenging his termination. Plaintiff, a former chief administrative law judge of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Bureau in Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), alleged retaliation under the whistleblower protection provisions of Iowa Code 70A.28 and that Defendants continued to retaliate against him when he sought other positions in state government. Plaintiff further alleged wrongful termination in violation of public policy based upon the same conduct. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that Plaintiff could not bring his claims because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies available to merit employees. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff’s ability to bring a direct claim under section 71A.28 is not precluded by the availability of an administrative remedy under Iowa Code 8A.415; and (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff’s wrongful termination claim. View "Walsh v. Wahlert" on Justia Law

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The equitable tolling doctrines of the discovery rule and equitable estoppel are available with respect to the 300-day filing limitation in the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). Plaintiff, an applicant for the position of Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner at Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), brought a failure-to-hire claim against the IWD. The district court dismissed the claim, concluding that Plaintiff could not escape the 300-day filing requirement in the ICRA through application of the discovery rule or equitable estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the discovery rule and equitable estoppel apply to the 300-day filing limitation in the ICRA; but (2) Plaintiff was not entitled to toll the filing limitation through application of either the discovery rule or equitable estoppel. View "Mormann v. Iowa Workforce Development" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court rejected the arguments of Plaintiffs, two public school teachers, who sought a judgment declaring the 2014 amendments to the Teacher Due Process Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 72-5436 et seq., unconstitutional because the legislation constituted a taking of their property without due process. Before July 1, 2014, the contracts of tenured elementary and secondary teachers in Kansas school districts automatically continued into the next school year unless the school district gave a notice of termination or nonrenewal that set out the reasons for the termination or nonrenewal and notified the teacher of his rights to a due process hearing. The 2014 amendments removed both the requirement that the school district’s Board of Education state its reasons for the termination or nonrenewal and the right to a due process hearing. When Plaintiffs were informed that the Board would not be renewing their teaching contracts, they brought this action. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs did not have a property interest that was entitled to constitutional protection under either the federal or state constitution. View "Scribner v. Board of Education of U.S.D. No. 492" on Justia Law