Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant after concluding that Plaintiff failed to allege conduct sufficiently severe or pervasive to support a claim for sexual harassment, holding that the conduct alleged by Plaintiff was sufficiently severe or pervasive for a reasonable person to find the work environment to be hostile or abusive. In granting summary judgment to Defendant, the district court determined that the conduct alleged did not meet the severe-or-pervasive standard for actionable sexual harassment based on a hostile work environment. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff has not presented the Court with a compelling reason to abandon the severe-or-pervasive standard for analyzing the objective component of a claim for sexual harassment under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. 363A.01-.44; and (2) considering the totality of the circumstances, Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to decide that the complained of behavior was sufficiently severe or pervasive to substantially interfere with Plaintiff's employment or to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment environment. View "Kenneh v. Homeward Bound, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff's former employer, Con-E-Co, on plaintiff's sex discrimination claim, her sexual harassment claim, and her retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination because she did not demonstrate that she met Con-E-Co's legitimate job expectations or that Con-E-Co treated her differently than similarly situated male employees; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Con-E-Co regarding her sexual harassment claim based on vulgar behavior directed at her by her coworkers, because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she subjectively perceived the alleged harassment as abusive; and plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for retaliation in response to either her race discrimination or sex discrimination complaints. View "Gibson v. Concrete Equipment Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Novo Nordisk Inc.'s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Thomas Russomano, one of its former employees, and BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc., Russomano's current employer, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Novo Nordisk could not show a likelihood of success on the merits. Novo Nordisk sought to enforce the terms of a confidentiality and non-compete agreement that Russomano signed when he was employed at Novo Nordisk. The agreement prohibited Russomano from working for a competitor for one year after the end of his employment at Novo Nordisk and from disclosing confidential information. The district found that Novo Nordisk was not likely to succeed on the merits. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that Novo Nordisk's termination letter was unambiguous that Russomano's employment ended on August 2, 2018. View "Russomano v. Novo Nordisk Inc." on Justia Law

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After apprentice electrician Timothy Sky was seriously burned by an arc flash while connecting wires from a new electrical panel at the ADM corn processing plant, Jacobs was cited for a single serious violation of 29 C.F.R. 1910.335(a)(1)(i) for failing to ensure that Sky was wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The ALJ upheld the citation and the Commission denied Jacobs' administrative appeal. The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that substantial evidence on the record supports the ALJ's finding that Jacobs knew or should have known of the need to reevaluate its permissive PPE policy when Sky was told he had not finished the work. The court rejected Jacobs' contentions that the ALJ erred in failing to establish an affirmative defense; Sky violated its work rule requiring employees to stay within the scope of their assigned work; 29 C.F.R. 1910.335(a)(1)(i) does not impose a legal duty on employers to ensure that employees wear appropriate PPE; and the citation mistakenly stated that Sky was terminating the ground wire when the arc flash occurred. The court concluded that Jacobs' contentions were either without merit or did not warrant vacating the ALJ's final decision. View "Jacobs Field Services North America, Inc. v. Scalia" on Justia Law

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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