Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty.
Fort Bend hired Davis in 2007 as a Desktop Support Supervisor for 15 information technology technicians. Cook was the IT Director, and in 2009, hired his friend and fellow church member, Ford, as Davis’s supervisor. In 2010, Davis complained to human resources that Cook subjected her to constant sexual harassment and assaults. Fort Bend placed Davis on Family Medical Leave Act leave during its investigation, which substantiated the allegations and led to Cook’s resignation. According to Davis, Ford immediately began retaliating when she returned to work. She alleged that Ford “effectively” demoted her by reducing the number of her direct reports to four; removed her from projects she had previously managed; superseded her authority; removed her administrative rights from the computer server; and assigned her tasks that similarly situated employees were not required to perform. When a special installation was scheduled for the weekend of July 4, 2011, all employees were required to be present. On June 28, Davis informed Ford that she would not be available on the morning of Sunday July 3, “due to a previous religious commitment.” Davis claimed that she had arranged for a replacement. After Davis attended her church event and did not report to work, Fort Bend terminated her employment. Davis filed suit, alleging retaliation and religious discrimination under Title VII, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part. Summary judgment was proper as to the retaliation claim, but not as to the religious discrimination claim. View "Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty." on Justia Law
Hurst v. Lee County
Plaintiff, a corrections officer, filed suit against the County, acting through its Sheriff, alleging that plaintiff was terminated from his employment in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. The court held that plaintiff's statements to the news reporter was ordinarily within the scope of plaintiff's duties and did not merely concern those duties. Therefore, plaintiff was not speaking as a citizen for First Amendment purposes and his communications were not constitutionally insulated from employer discipline. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the County. View "Hurst v. Lee County" on Justia Law
Nobach v. Woodland Village Nursing Ctr., et al.
Plaintiff, a nursing home activities aide, filed suit against her employer, Woodland, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., after she was discharged because she refused to pray the Rosary with a patient. Plaintiff alleged that Woodland discharged her for exercising her religious beliefs. The court found that there was no evidence in the record that Woodland knew of plaintiff's beliefs before discharging her and held that a reasonable jury would not have had a legally sufficient basis to find that Woodland violated Title VII by discharging her. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of Woodland's motion for judgment as a matter of law, vacated the judgment, and remanded for entry of judgment. View "Nobach v. Woodland Village Nursing Ctr., et al." on Justia Law
Johnson, et al. v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., et al.
Plaintiffs filed suit against their former employer seeking unpaid overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201-219. In light of the plain language of 29 C.F.R. 778.105, the persuasive value of the Opinion Letter, and the reasoning in Abshire v. Redland Energy Services, the court agreed with the Eighth Circuit that, under the FLSA, an employer has the right to establish a workweek and was not required to begin the workweek on any given day. In this case, the employer did not violate the overtime wage requirements of the FLSA by using a Monday through Sunday workweek to calculate overtime compensation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Johnson, et al. v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Orozco v. Plackis
Plaintiff, a former employee of a franchise of Craig O's Pizza, filed suit against defendant, the founder of Craig O's, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201. The court held that plaintiff failed to produce legally sufficient evidence to satisfy the economic reality test and thus failed to prove that defendant was his employer under the FLSA. Because the court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict that defendant was plaintiff's employer, the court need not address defendant's remaining challenges. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of judgment as a matter of law and rendered judgment in favor of defendant. View "Orozco v. Plackis" on Justia Law
Rogers v. Bromac Title Services, L.L.C., et al.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer, Bromac, dismissing her claims under the Jury System Improvement Act (JSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1875. The court rejected plaintiff's claims that the district court misapplied the but-for causation standard by holding that she had to prove that her jury service was the only reason for her termination where the district court did not err in its analysis under the but-for causation standard. Even accepting plaintiff's version of the facts, she failed to create a genuine dispute that Bromac terminated her by reason of her jury service, or that their stated reason for terminating her was merely a pretext. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Bromac. View "Rogers v. Bromac Title Services, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law
Davoodi v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist.
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, the school district, asserting claims of national origin discrimination, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the removal of his suit from Texas state court and the dismissal of his entire suit. The court held that removal was proper where plaintiff's complaint included claims under Title VII. However, because the district court gave no notice to plaintiff before its sua sponte dismissal of his state law discriminatory termination claim, the court vacated the dismissal of the claim and remanded. View "Davoodi v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law
Allen, et al. v. Coil Tubing Services, L.L.C., et al.
Plaintiffs filed suit against their employer, CTS, alleging that they worked more than forty hours a week and that CTS wrongfully denied them overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Motor Carrier Act (MCA), 49 U.S.C. 31502, exempted certain CTS employees from the overtime-pay requirements of the FLSA based, in part, on the percentage of safety-affecting interstate activities these employees engaged in company-wide. The court held that the company-wide analysis was appropriate in this case because this court's precedent effectively forecloses an employee-by-employee analysis, and the facts of this case, and arguments advanced by the parties, did not support a district-by-district analysis. View "Allen, et al. v. Coil Tubing Services, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law
Gorman v. Verizon Wireless Texas, L.L.C., et al.
Plaintiff filed suit in state court against Verizon, alleging that Verizon discharged her in retaliation for complaining of discrimination and harassment pursuant to Texas law. Verizon moved to federal court based on diversity. The court held that the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement is only a condition precedent. When the court considered the appeal on the merits, the court found no merit based on the absence of causation between plaintiff's complaints and her discharge; the decisionmaker had no knowledge of the alleged protected activity claimed by plaintiff; and although the Verizon executive terminating her had no knowledge of her complaint, she did not have knowledge of a complex commission-generating scheme in which plaintiff was implicated and from which she profited. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to defendants. View "Gorman v. Verizon Wireless Texas, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law
Gilbert v. Donahoe
Plaintiff's suit against her former employer, the USPS, arose out of events that occurred during her employment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's dismissal of her complaint. The court concluded that the collective bargaining agreement between the union of which plaintiff was a member and the USPS did not clearly and unmistakably require her to resolve claims arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601, through arbitration; the court agreed with the district court that the agreement’s incorporation of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701, was sufficiently clear and unmistakable to waive her right to bring claims under that statute in federal court; and plaintiff no longer had standing to seek injunctive relief because she has retired. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Gilbert v. Donahoe" on Justia Law