Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Cosey v. The Prudential Ins. Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against Prudential, the plan administrator, and BioMerieux, her employer, after Prudential denied her long-term disability and short-term disability benefits. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Prudential and BioMerieux. Plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that the language at issue in both plans was ambiguous and did not clearly confer discretionary decision-making authority on the plan administrator. Therefore, the administrator's eligibility determinations denying benefits to a covered employee were subject to de novo judicial review, and the district court erred in reaching a contrary conclusion. The court further held that the district court erred in concluding that the employer's group insurance plan required objective proof of disability in order for an employee to qualify for plan benefits. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cosey v. The Prudential Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Bland v. Roberts
Plaintiffs filed suit against the Sheriff of the City of Hampton, Virginia, in his individual capacity and in his official capacity, alleging that the Sheriff retaliated against plaintiffs in violation of their First Amendment rights by choosing not to reappoint them because of their support of his electoral opponent. The court concluded that, as to the claims of Plaintiffs Sandhofer, Woodward, and Bland, the district court properly analyzed the merits of the claims; as to the claims of Plaintiffs Carter, McCoy, and Dixon, the district court erred by concluding that plaintiffs failed to create a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether the Sheriff violated their First Amendment rights; nevertheless, the district court properly ruled that the Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity on Carter's McCoy's, and Dixon's claims seeking money damages against the Sheriff in his individual capacity, and that the Sheriff was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity against those claims to the extent they sought monetary relief against him in his official capacity; and the Sheriff was not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity on Carter's, McCoy's and Dixon's claims to the extent the remedy sought was reinstatement. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bland v. Roberts" on Justia Law
Waugh Chapel South, LLC v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union
WCS filed suit against the Unions and the Fund under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 187, alleging that defendants orchestrated fourteen separate legal challenges against their commercial real estate project in order to force WCS to terminate their relationship with a non-unionized supermarket. WCS alleged that this was an illicit "secondary boycott" under 29 U.S.C. 158(b)(4)(ii)(B). The court affirmed the district court's decision to dismiss the complaint against the Fund because it was not a "labor organization" under the LMRA. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in dismissing WCS's claims against the Unions where there remained a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the pattern of litigation alleged in WCS's complaint derived from "a policy of starting legal proceedings without regard to the merits and for the purpose of" waging a secondary boycott. Accordingly, the court vacated the dismissal of WCS's complaint as to the remaining union defendants and remanded for further proceedings. View "Waugh Chapel South, LLC v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union" on Justia Law
Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. Owen
Mingo Logan challenged the award of benefits to claimant under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4). Because the court concluded that the ALJ did not in fact apply rebuttal limitations to Mingo Logan, and the Board affirmed the ALJ's analysis, the court did not reach Mingo Logan's challenge to the standard announced by the Board to rebut the section 921(c)(4) presumption of entitlement to benefits. The court affirmed the Board's award of benefits because it also found that Mingo Logan's other challenges to the ALJ's factual findings lacked merit. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. Owen" on Justia Law
Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. DOWCP
Claimant was awarded benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. 901-945. At issue was whether the awards of attorneys' fees properly reflected market-based evidence of counsel's hourly rate, as required by the lodestar analysis in Hensley v. Eckerhart. The court held that neither the ALJ nor the BRB abused its discretion in concluding that counsel provided sufficient market-based evidence of rates, and that the number of hours billed for attorneys' services reasonably reflected the work completed. The court also held that the award of fees for work performed by certain legal assistants was not supported fully by the record, and modified that award accordingly. View "Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. DOWCP" on Justia Law
Bunn v. Oldendorff Carriers GmbH & Co.
This case arose when plaintiff, a longshoreman, slipped and fell on Oldendorff's ship during loading operations. On appeal, Oldendorff challenged the judgment entered on a jury verdict under section 5(b) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 905(b). The court concluded that the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's motions for judgment as a matter of law where a jury could reasonably find Oldendorff liable for simple negligence. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial where the district court properly informed the jury that a shipowner may be "liable for injury resulting directly from an unsafe condition on the ship of which it was aware and which it voluntarily agreed and undertook to remedy, but failed to do so." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Bunn v. Oldendorff Carriers GmbH & Co." on Justia Law
NLRB v. Enterprise Leasing Co.
In these two consolidated cases, at issue was whether the Board had a quorum at the time it issued its decisions in 2012. First, the court determined that Enterprise and Huntington did not prevail on their statutory challenges under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. The court denied the Board's applications for enforcement of its orders, concluding that the President's three January 4, 2012 appointments to the Board were constitutionally infirm because the appointments were not made during "the Recess of the Senate." View "NLRB v. Enterprise Leasing Co." on Justia Law
Chamber of Commerce v. NLRB
The Chamber sought final review of the Board's rule, which required employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151-169, to post an official Board notice informing employees of their rights under the Act. The court held that the Board exceeded its authority in promulgating the challenged rule and affirmed the judgment of the district court. The rulemaking function provided by the Act only empowered the Board to carry out its statutorily defined reactive roles in addressing unfair labor practice charges and conducting representation elections upon request; there was no function or responsibility of the Board not predicated upon the filing of an unfair labor practice charge or a representation petition; and Congress never granted the Board the statutory authority to do so. View "Chamber of Commerce v. NLRB" on Justia Law
Westmoreland Coal Co. v. Cochran
Westmoreland challenged an ALJ's decision, affirmed by the Benefits Review Board, to award black lung benefits to one of Westmoreland's former employees. The ALJ found that the evidence failed to establish that the employee suffered from clinical pneumoconiosis but did establish that the employee suffered from legal pneumoconiosis. Regarding this legal pneumoconiosis finding, the ALJ chose to credit one medical opinion over others. The ALJ also found that the employee was totally disabled as a result of his pneumoconiosis and thus awarded him benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901 et seq. The court concluded that the ALJ's decision and order to award benefits was supported by substantial evidence, rational, and consistent with applicable law. Therefore, the Board did not err in affirming the ALJ's decision and order, and the court accordingly denied Westmoreland's petition for review. View "Westmoreland Coal Co. v. Cochran" on Justia Law
Crockett v. Mission Hospital, Inc.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to her former employer, Mission, on her hostile work environment claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that plaintiff failed to establish that she had suffered a tangible employment action. The court also concluded that the undisputed facts demonstrated that Mission satisfied both elements of its affirmative defense. Mission could not be held vicariously liable for a supervisor's alleged harassment of plaintiff. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Mission. View "Crockett v. Mission Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law