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Silva, a Brazilian citizen who self-identifies as Latino, worked as a correctional sergeant for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). His use of force on an inmate triggered an internal review process and led to his discharge. The individual defendants, the warden, the human resources director, and a Corrections Unit Supervisor played roles in that review process. Silva filed discrimination claims against the DOC under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e–2(a)(1), against the individual defendants and the DOC under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and against all defendants under 42 U.S.C. 198. The Seventh Circuit reversed the award of summary judgment to the DOC on the Title VII claim and to the warden on plaintiff’s equal protection claim but otherwise affirmed. A reasonable jury could conclude that Silva and another correctional officer engaged in comparably serious conduct but Silva was discharged while the other officer was suspended for one day .A reasonable jury could conclude that the warden’s evolving explanations for the discrepancy support an inference of pretext. Qualified immunity does not shield the warden from liability. The Eleventh Amendment bars the equal protection claim against the DOC View "Silva v. State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The district court did not abuse its discretion by sanctioning plaintiff for her "flagrant and unremitting" violations of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After plaintiff was constructively discharged as a nurse practitioner by the University, she filed four separate actions alleging claims arising out of the same course of events and alleging state torts of defamation and interference with prospective advantage, as well as violations of the False Claims Act, the Maryland False Health Claims Act, Title VII, and 42 U.S.C. 1981. The Fourth Circuit held that plaintiff's conduct under the procedural rules was inept and abusive to the degree that it rendered virtually useless five years of proceedings before the district court, and such abuse would likely have continued in any future proceedings. View "Rangarajan v. Johns Hopkins University" on Justia Law

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Chase petitioned for writ of mandamus after the district court conditionally certified a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action and directed that approximately 42,000 current and former Chase employees receive notice of the litigation. Chase claimed that arbitration agreements waived most of the employees' right to proceed collectively against Chase and that those agreements were enforceable under their terms. The Fifth Circuit denied the petition and held that, although Chase has shown that the issue presented was irremediable on ordinary appeal and that the writ of mandamus was appropriate under the circumstances, Chase has not shown a clear and indisputable right to the writ. The court held, however, that the district court erred by ordering that notice be sent to employees who signed arbitration agreements and by requiring Chase to provide personal contact information for the Arbitration Employees. Therefore, the court continued the stay of the district court's December 10, 2018, order for thirty days to give the court full opportunity to reconsider that order. View "In Re: JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law

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Rottinghouse, an Airgas truck driver, was issued a written warning for failing to properly secure his cargo. An ALJ found that the company used that written discipline to retaliate against Rottinghouse for previously filing charges against it in violation of 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(4). The NLRB affirmed and the Sixth Circuit granted an application for enforcement of the NLRB’s order. The NLRB’s conclusions were supported by substantial evidence. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s conclusions that the operation manager’s (Froslear’s) description of the events was not credible and that he was not truly concerned with fixing a safety problem; this supported a finding that Froslear was motivated by anti-union animus. The temporal proximity between the protected activity and the discipline was evidence of animus and was within the NLRB’s authority to consider the difference in treatment between Rottinghouse and another in attempting to discern anti-union animus. View "Airgas USA, LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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Seventeen-year veteran volunteer firefighter Jennifer Kocanowski was injured in the line of duty. She applied and was denied temporary disability benefits because she did not have outside employment. In this appeal, the issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration was whether volunteer firefighters had to be employed to be eligible for temporary disability benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 to -146. The Appellate Division affirmed the compensation judge’s determination that pre-injury outside employment was a necessary predicate to awarding temporary disability benefits to volunteer firefighters, holding that there "first must be an entitlement by the volunteer to payment of temporary benefits. That payment depends on proof of lost wages." The Supreme Court reversed: "While N.J.S.A. 34:15-75’s language is unclear, its legislative history indicates a strong intent to provide temporary disability coverage to volunteer firefighters at the maximum compensation provided for in the Act." View "Kocanowski v. Township of Bridgewater" on Justia Law

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Donaldson, a Capitol Police officer, was involved in an off-duty domestic incident. The Office of Professional Responsibility investigated and recommended termination. The Disciplinary Review Board agreed that Donaldson should be punished but recommended only a 45-day unpaid suspension. The Chief of Police decided to terminate Donaldson. After 30 days passed without intervention by the Capitol Police Board, the Chief’s decision was deemed approved and Donaldson was terminated (2 U.S.C. 1907(e)(1)(B)) Under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the Chief’s termination decisions are subject to binding arbitration. The Union requested arbitration. The Police refused to select an arbitrator, arguing that it “would be in violation of a determination of the Capitol Police Board and its distinct statutory authority by consenting to the jurisdiction of any arbitrator.” The Union protested to the General Counsel for the Office of Compliance (OOC) that the Police violated section 220(c)(2) of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1301–1438, by refusing to arbitrate an unresolved grievance and therefore committed an unfair labor practice. A hearing officer granted OOC judgment. The Board of Directors of the Congressional Accountability Office of Compliance reasoned that the Police is obligated to arbitrate disputes arising under its CBA unless it can cite clearly-established law that removes the dispute in question from arbitration; the Police’s legal arguments fell short. The Federal Circuit rejected an appeal by the Police and granted the OOC’s petition for an order of enforcement. View "United States Capitol Police v. Office of Compliance" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS) denying Debra Lee Anderson’s application for survivor spouse benefits under Deborah Cady’s retirement plan with the SDRS, holding that Anderson was not entitled to receive survivor benefits. Anderson and Cady both worked for the Rapid City Police Department. In 2012, Cady retired from the department. In 2015, Anderson and Cady married. In 2017, Cady died. Anderson applied for survivor spouse benefits, but the SDRS denied the application because Anderson and Cady were not married at the time of Cady’s retirement and because Anderson did not meet the definition of a “spouse” under S.D. Codified Laws 3-12-47(80). The South Dakota Officer of Hearing Examiners and circuit court both affirmed the SDRS. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the relevant statutes, Anderson could not meet the definition of “spouse” and therefore was not entitled to Cady’s survivor benefits under South Dakota law; and (2) there was no discrimination on the basis of Anderson’s gender or sexual orientation. View "Anderson v. South Dakota Retirement System" on Justia Law

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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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Gates testified that his supervisor, Rivera, addressed him with the N‐word twice, and once threatened to write up his “black ass.” The district court granted the employer summary judgment on Gates’s claim for a racially hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e‐2, stating that Gates faced a high bar, “as ‘[t]he workplace that is actionable is one that is ‘hellish.’” The court found that Rivera’s comments were not severe or pervasive enough to rise to the level of a hostile work environment. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part. The district court erred in applying the “hellish” standard and failed to focus on the difference in Seventh Circuit hostile environment cases between having the plaintiff’s co‐workers show racial hostility and having the plaintiff’s supervisor show racial hostility, especially in using poisonous racial epithets. View "Gates v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago" 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