Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Jarboe was hired by DKD of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Davis Toyota. Shortly after he began working, Jarboe was transferred to Leehan of Davis, doing business as Hanlees Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Kia. Following his termination at Leehan, Jarboe brought a wage and hour action against the Hanlees Auto Group, its 12 affiliated dealerships, including DKD and Leehan, and three individuals. The defendants moved to compel arbitration based on an employment agreement between Jarboe and DKD. The trial court granted the motion as to 11 of the 12 causes of action against DKD of Davis but denied the motion as to the other defendants and allowed Jarboe’s claim under the Private Attorneys General Act, Labor Code 2698. to proceed in court against all defendants. The court refused to stay the causes of action allowed to proceed in litigation pending arbitration of Jarboe’s claims against DKD. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument by Hanlees, its affiliated dealerships, and the individual defendants that they were entitled to enforce the agreement to arbitrate between Jarboe and DKD as third party beneficiaries of Jarboe’s employment agreement or under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. The trial court did not err in failing to stay the litigation under Labor Code section 1281. View "Jarboe v. Hanlees Auto Group" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that he was wrongfully discharged for having a firearm in his vehicle parked in the employee lot. The court held that the general public's access to Lot 1B was "restricted or limited," and Miss. Code. Ann. 45-9-55(2), the statutory exception to the right of an employee to have a firearm in his vehicle, applies. The court need not consider defendants' remaining arguments. View "McIntyre v. Nissan North America" on Justia Law

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Eshleman started working as a Patrick truck driver in 2013. In 2015, Eshleman took medical leave to undergo surgery to remove a nodule from his lung. After two months of medical leave, Eshleman returned to work without restrictions. Six weeks later, Eshleman suffered a severe respiratory infection from January 27-31, 2016 (spanning a weekend). His supervisor approved two vacation days. With his physician’s approval, Eshleman returned to work in his full capacity on February 1. At the end of his second day back, Patrick fired him. The Superintendent cited “performance issues.” Eshleman reminded the Superintendent that his performance review from January 2016 had been excellent. Thereafter, the Superintendent claimed that Eshleman was fired because he had not called out sick during his leave for the respiratory infection. Later, Eshleman learned that the reason for termination had been changed again; Patrick was claiming he had been fired for “behavioral issues.” Eshleman sued, alleging that he was fired because he was regarded as disabled, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the shifting reasons for his termination were a pretext for illegal disability discrimination. The district court dismissed, holding that the ADA did not cover Eshleman’s “regarded as” claim because his impairment lasted less than six months and was “transitory and minor.” The Third Circuit reversed. The district court did not conduct an independent analysis into whether Eshleman’s impairment was minor, apart from whether it was transitory. View "Eshleman v. Patrick Industries Inc" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Employer on Employee's claim that Employer had violated the Rhode Island employer drug testing statute, R.I. Gen. Laws 28-6.5-1(a)(1) when it required Employee to take a drug test, allegedly without reasonable grounds, and terminated him for his refusal to do so, holding that reasonable grounds existed for the request that Employee take a drug test. According to the complaint, Employer wrongfully demanded that Employee undergo drug and alcohol testing in violation of portions of chapter 6.5 of title 28 of the General Laws. After the close of the trial, the trial justice concluded that Employer had reasonable grounds to believe that Employee was under the influence of a controlled substance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there were ample facts on the basis of which the trial justice could have reached the conclusion that reasonable grounds existed for Employer's request that Employee take a drug test, and therefore, the trial justice did not err or abuse her discretion. View "Colpitts v. W.B. Mason Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Attorney General of the United States in his official capacity as head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), alleging that the DOJ had denied her a promotion to a Division Director position because of her gender, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16, and her age, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 633a. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the DOJ. The DC Circuit held that a reasonable jury could find that the DOJ's proffered nondiscriminatory reason for denying plaintiff the promotion that she sought was pretextual and that discrimination was the real reason. In this case, a reasonable jury could find in plaintiff's favor based on her superior qualifications, the accumulated evidence of gender discrimination, and pretext. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Stoe v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After Gregory Tramaine Miller was crushed to death between the couplers of two rail cars while working as a conductor trainee with the railroad, plaintiffs filed suit under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the railroad, holding that Miller's failure to establish 3-Step Protection before going between rail cars was the sole cause of his death, that his going between moving rail cars was unforeseeable, and that plaintiffs failed to produce evidence of any negligent acts by the railroad attributable to causing Miller's death. View "Gray v. Alabama Great Southern Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's age-discrimination claim, holding that the trial court committed reversible error by requiring the jury, rather than the court itself, to make the specific factual determination about whether Defendant, Plaintiff's former employer, replaced Plaintiff with a substantially younger person. Plaintiff sued Defendant for age discrimination in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and for retaliation, alleging that she was terminated for complaining about her former supervisor's behavior before she was replaced. During trial, Plaintiff relied on circumstantial evidence to support her age discrimination claim. The jury rendered a verdict for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court committed reversible error by instructing the jury to decide the element under the McDonnell Douglas framework that Defendant replaced Plaintiff with a substantially younger person. View "Norton Healthcare, Inc. v. Disselkamp" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition for extraordinary relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. Petitioner sought interlocutory review of an order of the district court denying her motion for summary judgment in an action for damages under the Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148, 150, arguing that relief was warranted because the motion judgment violated Mass. R. Civ. P. 56 in denying her summary judgment motion and in failing to comply with Mass. R. Civ. P. 56(d). The single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, Petitioner did not meet the requirement of S.J.C. Rule 2:21(2). View "Lavoie v. Justice of the District Court Department" on Justia Law

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Justice, employed as a workers’ compensation claims adjuster since 1991, fell at work in 2011 and injured her left knee. She later developed problems in her right knee, which was found to be a compensable consequence of the first injury. In 2012-2013 Justice had total bilateral knee replacement. Dr. Anderson, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that there was significant preinjury degeneration in both knees, that knee replacement was not required because of the meniscus tear, and that the fall “hasten[ed]” the need for knee replacement by “lighting up the underlying pathology.” Anderson apportioned 50 percent of the bilateral knee disability to the nonindustrial, preexisting degeneration. The workers’ compensation judge determined that Justice had sustained permanent partial disability of 48 percent, worth $59,110.00, stating that “the need for these surgeries was at least partially non-industrial. … the surgeries appear to have significantly increased [Justice’s] ability to walk and engage in weight-bearing activities. The judge stated that before the 2017 Hikida decision, he would have awarded permanent disability with 50% apportionment but that Hikida precluded apportionment. The Appeals Board affirmed. The court of appeal annulled the decision. Justice's permanent disability should have been apportioned between industrial and nonindustrial causes. Hikida, in which a medical treatment resulted in a new compensable consequential injury, is distinguishable. Here, there was unrebutted substantial medical evidence that Justice’s permanent disability was caused, in part, by preexisting pathology. Apportionment was required. Whether or not the workplace injury “directly caused” the need for surgery, the apportionment statutes demand that the disability be sorted among direct and indirect causal factors. View "County of Santa Clara v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Allina, for race and national origin discrimination as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the discrimination claims, holding that the record demonstrates that Allina considered plaintiff's race only to ensure that any corrective action was not based on racial discrimination; without direct evidence of discrimination, the court relied on the burden shifting McDonnell Douglas analysis; and, assuming plaintiff established a prima facie case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that Allina's stated reason for terminating her was pretext. The court explained that nothing in Allina's Violence-Free Workplace policy or other policies prohibit Allina from treating some offenses as more severe than others and selecting a corrective action that it believes is proportional to the level of severity for the violation. In this case, Allina's response to plaintiff's grievance and the deposition of an Allina human resources director make clear that Allina believed that pushing a coworker was more severe than throwing a lab coat at a co-worker and that plaintiff's behavior justified a more severe punishment. View "Findlator v. Allina Health Clinics" on Justia Law