Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Dunn v. Trs. of Boston Univ.
Michael Dunn worked for Boston University (BU) from 1992 until 2010, at which time Dunn’s job was allegedly eliminated due to restructuring. Dunn brought suit against BU in Massachusetts superior court, claiming age discrimination in violation of both state and federal law. BU removed the case to federal district court. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of BU, concluding that Dunn had not made out a prima facie case that he was laid off because of his age. The First Circuit affirmed without ruling on the sufficiency of Dunn’s prima facie showing, holding that, even assuming that Dunn made a prima facie showing of age discrimination, Dunn failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether BU’s stated reasons for discharging him were a pretext for unlawful discrimination. View "Dunn v. Trs. of Boston Univ." on Justia Law
Ramirez v. Carolina Dream, Inc.
Appellant, a seaman, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood condition that preventing him from continuing to work. Appellant brought a personal injury action against his employer, alleging negligence under the Jones Act and maritime claims of unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer. On appeal, Appellant challenged only the dismissal of his cause of action for maintenance and cure, arguing that he was entitled to that remedy until he “reaches maximum medical recovery.” The First Circuit vacated the district court’s ruling, holding that Appellant adduced sufficient evidence to support a finding that his aplastic anemia arose or became aggravated during his service on the ship and, hence, triggered the duty of maintenance and cure. Remanded. View "Ramirez v. Carolina Dream, Inc." on Justia Law
Vazquez-Rivera v. Figueroa
Plaintiff filed a complaint against his employer, the U.S. Army, alleging that his direct supervisor harassed and discriminated against him on account of his disability. The Army dismissed the complaint as untimely, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) affirmed. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint with the district court, asserting discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims. The district court construed these claims as claims brought pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act. The district court found that Plaintiff’s administrative complaint was untimely filed and ordered that Plaintiff’s claimed be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and did not qualify for equitable tolling. The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims, holding that the district court correctly found that Plaintiff’s administrative filing was untimely and did not abuse its discretion when it denied Plaintiff’s request for equitable tolling on the insufficiently supported basis of mental illness. View "Vazquez-Rivera v. Figueroa" on Justia Law
Vazquez-Robles v. CommoLoco, Inc.
Maribel Vazquez-Robles (Plaintiff) commenced a civil action in a federal district court against CommoLoCo, Inc. (Defendant), her former employer, alleging workplace discrimination claims. Plaintiff served the summons and complaint on Prentice-Hall Corporation System Puerto Rico, which she believed to be Defendant’s registered agent for service of process. When no answer was filed, Plaintiff obtained an entry of default, and a jury awarded Plaintiff nearly $1 million in damages. Plaintiff procured a writ of execution, and the full amount of the judgment was seized from Defendant’s bank account. Defendant immediately moved to vacate the judgment as void, arguing that Prentice was not its registered agent and that it had no prior knowledge of the action. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that, in this case, the district court never acquired jurisdiction over Defendant, as Prentice was not Defendant's registered agent at the time the service of process was attempted by Plaintiff. View "Vazquez-Robles v. CommoLoco, Inc." on Justia Law
Me. Ass’n of Retirees v. Bd. of Trustees
In 2011, the Maine Legislature made certain amendments to Maine’s public employee retirement system. In general, the retired Maine employees stood to be paid significantly less cost-of-living adjustments as a result of the amendments. Plaintiffs - retired Maine employees, public school teachers, and members of the Maine Association of Retirees and the Maine State Employees Association - filed suit, arguing that the amendments violated the Contract Clause and Taking Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court granted summary judgment against Plaintiffs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the 2011 amendments did not violate the Contract Clause. View "Me. Ass'n of Retirees v. Bd. of Trustees" on Justia Law
Hicks v. Napolitano
Plaintiff, an African-American woman who was serving in the United States Coast Guard Housing Office at Air Station Cape Cod, filed an employment discrimination action against the Secretary of Homeland Security, asserting that the Secretary failed to promote her to the position of housing manager because of her race and gender. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary, concluding that Plaintiff failed to generate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Secretary’s non-discriminatory reason for choosing another candidate was pretextual. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the district court acted within the bounds of its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery shortly after retaining counsel; and (2) the Secretary was entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to generate a genuine issue of material fact on the issue of pretext. View "Hicks v. Napolitano" on Justia Law
Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energia Electrica
When an investigation was initiated into corruption at the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority’s (PREPA) Aguadilla Technical Office, Plaintiff, an employee of PREPA at the Aguadilla Technical Office, testified and provided information for the investigation. Plaintiff alleged that after she testified, her employer and supervisors retaliated against her by threatening her, unjustly disciplining her, depriving her of benefits owed to her under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and ultimately firing her. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s FMLA complaint for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s FMLA claims with prejudice, holding that Plaintiff did not state a plausible claim of FMLA retaliation or FMLA interference based on Defendants’ adverse actions. View "Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energia Electrica" on Justia Law
Reyes-Perez v. State Ins. Fund Corp.
When control of the Puerto Rican government changes parties, the political party assuming office often terminates the employment of public employees affiliated with the party going out of power and fills the vacancies with its own members. Plaintiff, a Popular Democratic Party (PDP) activist, was employed with a trust position at Puerto Rico’s State Insurance Fund Corporation (SIFC) while the PDP was in power. Plaintiff was moved into a career position at the SIFC when it became clear the opposing party would win an upcoming election. Had Plaintiff remained in a trust position, his employment could have been terminated without violating the First Amendment. A subsequent audit of employees performed by the new administration revealed that Plaintiff’s appointment did not conform with Puerto Rican law. Plaintiff’s reclassification to a career position was subsequently annulled, and he was dismissed. Plaintiff filed suit against SIFC and other defendants, alleging that he was terminated because of his political association in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment under the Mt. Healthy doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that undermined Defendants’ proffered nondiscriminatory reasons for his reclassification and later termination. View "Reyes-Perez v. State Ins. Fund Corp." on Justia Law
Abdallah v. Bain Capital, LLC
Plaintiff worked in a luggage factory in France that was owned by Samsonite. Samsonite was controlled by an investment group led by Bain Capital, LLC. Bain wanted to shut down the factory, and to avoid paying millions of dollars in post-termination benefits to the laid-off employees of the factory, Bain and Samsonite hired a third party, HB Group, to buy the factory. In 2007, a French court ordered the judicial liquidation of the factory. Because HB Group had no resources to pay Plaintiff and her coworkers, Plaintiff commenced this putative class action in 2012 seeking to hold Bain liable for losses suffered by the factory’s workers as a result of the sale and liquidation. The district court dismissed the complaint as untimely under the relevant three-year statute of limitations. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no basis to conclude that the statute of limitations was tolled in this case. View "Abdallah v. Bain Capital, LLC" on Justia Law
Velazquez-Perez v. Developers Diversified Realty
Plaintiff brought sex discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against his former employer, DDR Corp., after his employment was terminated. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that DDR discriminated against him on the basis of sex by terminating him after his co-worker, whose sexual advances he refused, maligned his job performance. The district court granted summary judgment to DDR. The First Circuit (1) vacated the portion of the district court’s judgment granting summary judgment against Plaintiff on his sex discrimination claim, holding (i) a reasonable jury could find that the jilted co-worker’s discriminatory efforts were the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s termination, and (ii) although the co-worker was not Plaintiff’s direct supervisor, DDR could nonetheless be found liable for negligently allowing the co-worker’s discriminatory acts to cause Plaintiff’s firing; and (2) otherwise affirmed the judgment of the district court. Remanded. View "Velazquez-Perez v. Developers Diversified Realty" on Justia Law