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Armstrong, a BNSF train conductor, was not wearing the proper uniform for the third time in two weeks. Armstrong’s supervisor, Motley, noticed and called him into the “Glasshouse” office. Nelson left the Glasshouse as Armstrong arrived. Armstrong claims that Motley began yelling and that he tried to leave because he felt threatened; Motley pushed the door shut, striking Armstrong’s knee and foot. This is not seen on a video recording. Nelson testified that, outside the Glasshouse, he could hear Armstrong curse at Motley. The video showed Motley standing away from the door as Armstrong exited. Motley, who claims he did not close the door on Armstrong, called his supervisor, Johanson. After speaking to Armstrong, Johanson took Armstrong to an on-site clinic, where he was provided a soft walking shoe. Human Resources took statements and secured the video. BNSF issued a notice of investigation for insubordination, dishonesty, and misrepresentation. A hearing officer concluded that Armstrong had lied. BNSF terminated Armstrong’s employment. Armstrong sued, alleging that BNSF dismissed him for reporting a work‐related injury, (Federal Rail Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(4)). The Seventh Circuit affirmed a jury verdict for BNSF, upholding a jury instruction that “Defendant cannot be held liable under the FRSA if you conclude that Defendant terminated Plainiff’s employment based on its honestly held belief that Plaintiff did not engage in protected activity under the FRSA in good faith.” While a FRSA plaintiff need not show that retaliation was the sole motivating factor in the adverse decision, the statute requires a showing that retaliation was a motivating factor. View "Armstrong v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The employer, Allegheny County, was ordered to pay $14,750.00 in attorney’s fees under Section 440 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act after the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (“WCAB”) determined that the County unreasonably contested its liability under the Act. Though the County sought supersedeas of that order, arguing that the finding of liability was in error, supersedeas was denied. Thus, the County complied with the order and paid the awarded fee to the employee’s counsel. Upon reaching the merits of the County’s appeal, however, the Commonwealth Court reversed, concluding that the County not only had a reasonable basis for its contest, but a prevailing one, and that the employee was no longer entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Thereafter, the County filed a separate petition before a Workers’ Compensation Judge (“WCJ”) in which it sought reimbursement of the erroneously awarded attorney’s fees from the employee’s counsel. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allowance of appeal in this matter to consider whether a court could order an employee’s attorney to disgorge erroneously awarded, but already paid, unreasonable contest attorney’s fees pursuant to Section 440, when the substantive basis for the award was later overturned on appeal. The Supreme Court found that the General Assembly, in enacting the Workers’ Compensation Act, did not provide any mechanism by which employers could recoup erroneously awarded counsel fees, once paid. The General Assembly contemplated that when a merits appeal is undertaken, a court may grant supersedeas of an order awarding attorney’s fees. Because such a supersedeas was requested and denied in this case, the Court held that the County may not recoup the already paid attorney’s fees from the employee’s counsel. The Court vacated the Commonwealth Court’s order and reinstated the order of the WCAB, which affirmed the denial of the County’s reimbursement petition. View "County of Allegheny v. WCAB (Parker)" on Justia Law

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The trial court denied class certification in a wage and hour suit challenging whether U.S. Bank properly classified its business banking officers (BBOs) as exempt employees under the outside salesperson exemption. The exemption applies to employees who spend more than 50 percent of their workday engaged in sales activities outside their employer’s place of business. The trial court concluded plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the case is manageable as a class action, stating that it had no evidence establishing uniformity in how BBOs spent their time, despite surveys conducted by the plaintiffs and other voluminous evidence. Plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of ascertainability, numerosity, and adequacy of representation but failed to show common questions of law or fact predominated over individual issues, so class treatment was not superior to other means of resolving the claims. The court of appeal affirmed. A 2015 survey was unreliable for the purpose of showing that common issues would predominate at trial. The trial court properly focused on manageability issues pertaining to the affirmative defenses, while fully understanding plaintiffs’ theory of liability. View "Duran v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an oral agreement between David Crossett (“Crossett”) and David Johnson (“Johnson”) to form a limited liability company (“LLC”). After Crossett formed the LLC, Johnson backed out by refusing to sign the written operating agreement. Crossett remained as the sole member of the LLC, which he eventually sold. Johnson and Tessa Cousins (“Cousins”), the LLC’s only employee, filed a complaint against Crossett, wherein they asserted, amongst other things, that: (1) they were members of the LLC since its inception; and (2) Crossett had breached his fiduciary duties. The district court dismissed the case after concluding that Johnson and Cousins were never members of the LLC because they had refused to sign the written operating agreement. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Johnson v. Crossett" on Justia Law

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An employee brought claims under provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act, claiming: (1) the employer unlawfully discriminated against him based on race. He also alleged (2) breach of employment contract and the implied covenant of good faith. Furthermore, the employee (3) sought to disqualify the trial judge for cause based upon perceived bias. The district court denied the employee’s disqualification motion and granted summary judgment for the employer on all of the employee’s claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment entered in favor of the employer. View "Mendez v. University Health Svcs BSU" on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a district court’s denial of qualified immunity to the former El Paso County Sheriff, Terry Maketa and undersheriff, Paula Presley. The claims were brought by three categories of subordinates: (1) Lieutenant Cheryl Peck; (2) Sergeant Robert Stone; and (3) Commanders Mitchell Lincoln, Rodney Gehrett, and Robert King. Lt. Peck, Sgt. Stone, and the three Commanders alleged retaliation for protected speech. The district court held that the subordinates’ allegations were sufficient to defeat qualified immunity at the motion-to-dismiss stage. The Tenth Circuit disagreed because the law was not clearly established that: (1) Lt. Peck’s speech fell outside of her duties as a public employee; (2) the investigations of Sgt. Stone and his children constituted adverse employment actions; and (3) the investigation of the Commanders, their placement on paid administrative leave, and their alleged humiliation constituted adverse employment actions. Therefore, Sheriff Maketa and Undersheriff Presley were entitled to qualified immunity and dismissal of the complaint. View "Lincoln v. Maketa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Richard Tabura and Guadalupe Diaz were Seventh Day Adventists. Their religious practice of not working Saturdays conflicted with their job schedules at a food production plant operated by Defendant Kellogg USA, Inc. (“Kellogg”). Eventually Kellogg terminated each Plaintiff for not working their Saturday shifts. Plaintiffs alleged that in doing so, Kellogg violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to accommodate their Sabbath observance. Both sides moved for summary judgment. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion and granted Kellogg summary judgment, concluding as a matter of law both that Kellogg did reasonably accommodate Plaintiffs’ religious practice and, alternatively, that Kellogg could not further accommodate their Sabbath observance without incurring undue hardship. The Tenth Circuit concluded after review of the district court record that the district court erred in granting Kellogg summary judgment; however, on the same record, the district court did not err in denying Plaintiffs summary judgment. View "Tabura v. Kellogg USA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant William Bustos sued his former employers, defendants-respondents Global P.E.T., Inc. and Global Plastics, Inc. (collectively, Global) for discrimination. A jury found that Bustos’s physical condition or perceived physical condition was “a substantial motivating reason” for his termination, but nevertheless returned defense verdicts on each of his claims. After trial, Bustos sought an award of attorney fees under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, citing the holding of Harris v. City of Santa Monica, 56 Cal.4th 203 (2013) that “a plaintiff subject to an adverse employment decision in which discrimination was a substantial motivating factor may be eligible for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs expended for the purpose of redressing, preventing, or deterring that discrimination,” even if the discrimination did not “result in compensable injury” for that particular plaintiff. In this appeal, Bustos challenges the trial court’s ruling denying his motion for attorney fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court, finding the record did not support Bustos’ contention that the trial court ignored “Harris:” the trial court explicitly acknowledged Harris in its remarks regarding its tentative ruling. The trial court correctly recognized, moreover, that even under Harris, the award of attorney fees pursuant to Government Code section 12695 was discretionary, and it appropriately exercised that discretion. View "Bustos v. Global P.E.T" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion for leave to amend a complaint after certain court proceedings, holding that the district court was not required to allow leave to amend. Plaintiffs filed suit against a group of healthcare entities alleging that Defendants’ compensation practices violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs opposed the motion, including a request to amend should the court grant the motion. The district court ultimately granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims and noted that Plaintiffs’ counsel had voiced the possibility that Plaintiffs might seek leave to amend but never followed through with a proper motion to amend. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the complaint. View "Hamilton v. Partners Healthcare System, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant Cheryl Price and Greg Lovelace petitioned for mandamus relief. Price was formerly the warden at Donaldson Correctional Facility ("the prison"), which was operated by the Alabama Department of Corrections ("the DOC"). Lovelace was a deputy commissioner of the DOC in charge of construction and maintenance. Plaintiff Marcus Parrish was a correctional officer employed by the DOC. Parrish was supervising inmate showers in a segregation unit in the prison. Parrish left the shower area briefly to retrieve shaving trimmers, and, when he returned, inmate Rashad Byers had already entered a shower cell, which had an exterior lock on it. Byers indicated that he was finished with his shower, and Parrish told him to turn around to be handcuffed, then approached Byers's shower door with the key to the lock on the door in his hand. Byers unexpectedly opened the door, exited the shower cell, and attacked Parrish. During the attack, Byers took Parrish's baton from him and began striking Parrish with it. Parrish was knocked unconscious, and he sustained injuries to his head. Parrish sued Price and Lovelace in their official capacities. Parrish later filed an amended complaint naming Price and Lovelace as defendants in their individual capacities only (thus, it appears that Price and Lovelace were sued only in their individual capacities). Parrish alleged that Price and Lovelace willfully breached their duties by failing to monitor the prison for unsafe conditions and by failing to repair or replace the allegedly defective locks. Price and Lovelace moved for a summary judgment, asserting, among other things, that they are entitled to State-agent immunity. The trial court denied the summary-judgment motion, concluding, without elaboration, that genuine issues of material fact existed to preclude a summary judgment. Price and Lovelace then petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, arguing that they were immune from liability. After review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded Price and Lovelace established they were entitled to State-agent immunity. Accordingly, the Court directed the trial court to enter a summary judgment in their favor. View "Ex parte Cheryl Price & Greg Lovelace." on Justia Law