Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The case involves an appeal by Marianne Wayland against her former employer, OSF Healthcare System. Wayland alleged that OSF violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by failing to adjust performance expectations to reflect her reduced hours while she was on approved medical leave, and subsequently firing her. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of OSF, concluding that it fired Wayland for justifiable reasons based on her performance.Wayland appealed this decision arguing that there was a genuine dispute of material fact over the amount of approved leave she took. The Circuit Court agreed, finding that if Wayland's testimony about the amount of leave she took is believed, a jury could find that OSF unlawfully failed to adjust its performance expectations by properly accounting for her leave when evaluating her.The Circuit Court also noted that a jury could potentially find that OSF interfered with or retaliated against Wayland's use of leave by holding her to the same standards as when she worked full time, and then firing her for falling short. It found that there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine question about whether OSF's reasons for firing Wayland were pretextual, highlighting that OSF did not tell Wayland that poor performance would lead to discharge and set goals that were potentially impossible to meet.The Circuit Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Wayland v. OSF Healthcare System" on Justia Law

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A company named Coreslab Structures was found to have violated several provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The court affirmed the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) findings that Coreslab had engaged in unfair labor practices, including unilateral changes to its pension and profit-sharing plans, discrimination against union members, interference with an employee's right to speak with union representatives, and withdrawal of recognition from the union.Coreslab, which produces bridge components and other structural materials at its facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had recognized the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 627, AFL-CIO (the Union) as the bargaining representative of the company’s production and maintenance employees from 2004 until 2019. Starting in 2011, Coreslab made pension contributions only for hours worked by unit employees who were members of the Union, while providing annual profit-sharing payments to non-Union bargaining unit employees.The court held that substantial evidence supported the Board's findings that the Union lacked knowledge of the pension contribution/profit-sharing scheme until Coreslab informed the Union in September 2019. The court further held that Coreslab violated the NLRA by discriminating against union members and failing to bargain collectively with the Union. It also found that Coreslab's withdrawal of recognition from the Union was unlawful.However, the court found that the Board exceeded its statutory authority by ordering back-payments without offset and requiring Coreslab to retain the unlawfully-created profit-sharing program. The court remanded the case to the Board for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Coreslab Structures v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The case was an appeal by the Continental Cement Company (Continental) against a decision by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The Commission had determined that Continental had acted discriminatorily towards one of its employees, Tara Otten, by paying her less than she would have earned had she been working, instead of accompanying mine inspectors during an inspection, an activity known as her "walkaround right".Otten was a miner and designated miners' representative who had been trained to operate mobile equipment. Normally, she would receive a higher wage when operating this equipment. However, when she was performing her walkaround duty, Continental had stopped paying her the higher wage. This action was directed by a human resources specialist at Continental, who based the decision on the collective bargaining agreement.Otten subsequently filed a complaint against Continental with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Secretary of Labor filed a discrimination claim on Otten's behalf with the Commission. The Commission sided with the Secretary, agreeing that Continental had discriminated against Otten by causing her to suffer a loss of pay because she exercised her walkaround right. The Commission further held that Continental's decision was motivated by Otten's protected activity.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, however, disagreed with the Commission's decision. The Court held that while Otten did suffer a loss of pay, which was a violation of the law, it did not automatically mean that Continental had discriminated against Otten. The Court clarified that discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally treats a person worse because of a protected characteristic. In this case, the Court found no evidence that Continental paid Otten less for the reason that she exercised her walkaround right. The Court, therefore, reversed the Commission's determination that Continental violated the discrimination law. View "Continental Cement Company v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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This case revolves around the plaintiff, Cindy L. Moll, who made allegations of gender-based discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer of her job site, and discriminatory or retaliatory termination of her employment against her former employer, Telesector Resources Group Inc., in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New York State Human Rights Law. She also claimed she was paid less than her male co-workers for similar work, violating Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.The United States District Court for the Western District of New York initially granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, dismissing all of the plaintiff's claims. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated parts of the district court's judgment and remanded for trial.Regarding the hostile work environment claim, the Court of Appeals concluded that the district court erred in finding that the plaintiff failed to present a prima facie case. The Court of Appeals noted the district court's failure to take all the circumstances into account and to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.In relation to the retaliatory transfer claim, the Court of Appeals held that the district court failed to view the record in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. It disagreed with the district court's conclusion that the transfer of the plaintiff's job site to Syracuse was not an adverse employment action and found that the district court ignored evidence that could support a finding of causation.As for the discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment claim, the Court of Appeals found that the district court did not adhere to the summary judgment principles. It concluded that the record revealed genuine issues as to all of the elements of the plaintiff's claim that the defendant's decision to transfer her job site to Syracuse violated Title VII's prohibition against retaliation.Finally, concerning the Equal Pay Act claim, the Court of Appeals held that there were genuine issues of material fact to be tried. It pointed out that the district court failed to adequately account for the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of some of the plaintiff's other claims but vacated the judgment as to the claims of hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer, discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment, and the Equal Pay Act claim as to one of the plaintiff's identified comparators. The case was remanded for trial. View "Moll v. Telesector" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, Dana Hohenshelt, filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Golden State Foods Corp., alleging retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, failure to prevent retaliation, and violations of the California Labor Code. Golden State moved to compel arbitration in accordance with their arbitration agreement, and the trial court granted the motion, staying court proceedings. Arbitration began, but Golden State failed to pay the required arbitration fees within the 30-day deadline. Hohenshelt then sought to withdraw his claims from arbitration and proceed in court, citing Golden State's failure to pay as a material breach of the arbitration agreement under California's Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.98. The trial court denied this motion, deeming Golden State's payment, which was made after the deadline but within a new due date set by the arbitrator, as timely.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District disagreed with the trial court's decision. It held that the trial court had ignored the clear language of section 1281.98, which states any extension of time for the due date must be agreed upon by all parties. Golden State's late payment constituted a material breach of the arbitration agreement, regardless of the new due date set by the arbitrator. The court also rejected Golden State's argument that section 1281.98 is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, following precedent from other courts that held these state laws are not preempted because they further the objectives of the Federal Arbitration Act. Therefore, the court granted Hohenshelt's petition for writ of mandate, directing the trial court to lift the stay of litigation. View "Hohenshelt v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiff, Kristin Cosby, claimed that the South Carolina Probation, Parole & Pardon Services (SCPPP) had discriminated against her based on her gender and retaliated against her for filing discrimination complaints in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Cosby had previously worked for SCPPP, left, and then reapplied in 2012. When she was not rehired, Cosby filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found in her favor. SCPPP rehired her, but Cosby alleged that she was subsequently subjected to gender discrimination and retaliation, including being denied a promotion, being investigated for inappropriate relationships with subordinates, and ultimately forced to resign.The court affirmed the district court's granting of summary judgment to SCPPP. The court held that Cosby had failed to establish her gender discrimination claim under both the disparate treatment and hostile work environment theories. For the disparate treatment claim, Cosby failed to identify a valid comparator — a similarly situated individual of a different gender who was treated more favorably. In her hostile work environment claim, Cosby's internal complaint did not constitute protected activity under Title VII because it did not oppose an unlawful employment practice. The court also found no causal connection between Cosby's 2012 EEOC charge and any adverse employment action taken by SCPPP in 2018, defeating her retaliation claim. View "Cosby v. South Carolina Probation, Parole & Pardon Services" on Justia Law

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In the case at hand, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviewed an employment discrimination case. The plaintiff, LuzMaria Arroyo, a military reservist, brought a lawsuit against her employer, Volvo Group North America, LLC, alleging discrimination based on her military status and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a jury ruled in Arroyo's favor and awarded her $7,800,000 in damages, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to Volvo on Arroyo’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim, and ordered a new trial on the remaining Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) claim, where the jury found for Volvo. Arroyo appealed this decision.The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that Arroyo was not a "qualified individual" under the ADA as she failed to comply with Volvo's attendance policy, an essential job function. Arroyo's positive job performance reviews did not negate her violation of the attendance policy. The court also found no conflict with its previous decision in Arroyo I, which had reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Volvo on the ADA and USERRA claims.Further, the court upheld the district court's decision for a new trial on the USERRA claim. The court agreed that the jury’s verdict as to the ADA claim was influenced by passion and prejudice that also tainted the jury’s determination of USERRA liability. Finally, the court found no abuse of discretion in the district court's decision to exclude evidence of Arroyo’s PTSD in the new trial, as PTSD alone was not sufficient to raise a cognizable discrimination claim under USERRA. View "Arroyo v. Volvo Group North America, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Plaintiff, Barbara M. Parmenter, had subscribed to a long-term care insurance policy offered by her employer, Tufts University, and underwritten by The Prudential Insurance Company of America. The policy was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. After Prudential twice increased Parmenter's premium rate payments for her policy, she sued Tufts and Prudential, alleging each breached their respective fiduciary duties owed to her when Prudential increased those rates. The defendants responded with motions to dismiss for failure to state a plausible claim. The district court granted each of their motions and Parmenter appealed.The United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit found that the language in the policy stating that premium increases would be "subject to the approval of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance" was ambiguous, and could not be definitively interpreted based solely on the pleadings and contract documents currently available. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's decision to dismiss the case against Prudential and remanded it for further proceedings.However, the court affirmed the dismissal of the case against Tufts, as Parmenter's allegations that Tufts failed to prevent the premium rate increases or monitor Prudential did not fall into one of the categories of co-fiduciary liability set forth in section 1105(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. View "Parmenter v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, an African-American male, brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, Genzyme Therapeutic Products, LP, and one of its executives. The plaintiff alleged racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient proof that the employer's stated rationale for certain adverse employment actions was pretextual. The court also found that the plaintiff did not provide enough evidence to demonstrate a causal connection between the alleged protected conduct (filing a complaint against another employee for racial discrimination) and the adverse action (a poor performance review).On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court held that the plaintiff failed to establish that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employer's proffered reason for the negative performance review was a pretext for discrimination. The court noted that the plaintiff's argument relied heavily on speculation and conjecture rather than definite and competent evidence. The court also highlighted that even if the plaintiff's direct manager thought he was deserving of a higher rating, this did not shed light on the executive's view, nor did it allow a reasonable juror to find that the executive's stated rationale was pretextual. The court concluded that a single racially tinged comment made by the executive was not sufficient to prove discriminatory intent. View "Boykin v. Genzyme Therapeutic Products, LP" on Justia Law

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In this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, five groups of current and former public employees in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (the "Commonwealth") appealed an order by the court overseeing the Commonwealth-wide debt restructuring litigation (the "Title III court") on their motions to secure administrative-expense priority for their back pay claims. The back pay claims arose from allegations that their public employers failed to adjust their wages upward, a violation of Puerto Rico law. The Title III court had previously rejected efforts to assert administrative-expense priority for back pay for work performed before the commencement of the Commonwealth's debt restructuring case under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act ("PROMESA").The appellate court affirmed the Title III court's decision. The appellate court agreed that the pre-petition work claims did not qualify for administrative-expense priority under § 503(b)(1)(A)(ii) of the Bankruptcy Code, which is incorporated into PROMESA, because they were not "wages and benefits awarded pursuant to a judicial proceeding . . . as back pay attributable to any period of time occurring after commencement of the case under this title." The appellate court also held that the Title III court did not abuse its discretion in deferring its decision on administrative-expense status for back pay claims concerning work performed post-petition but for which there has not yet been any judgment in the underlying commonwealth court and agency proceedings. View "Abraham Gimenez Plaintiff Group v. FOMB" on Justia Law