Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Willis v. Cleco Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Cleco, alleging race discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Cleco. Plaintiff claimed that he was issued a Disciplinary Warning in retaliation for his reporting of a coworker's racially hostile statements. Cleco asserted that the warning was issued because plaintiff sent a mass email disclosing that his coworker's son overdosed on pills. The court concluded the district court erred in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's retaliation claim based on the Disciplinary Warning where plaintiff had demonstrated that there was a genuine dispute of material fact that Cleco's stated reasons were pretextual. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's retaliation claim arising from the Disciplinary Warning and remanded for further proceedings. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the remaining retaliation and discrimination claims. View "Willis v. Cleco Corp." on Justia Law
Hague v. UT Health and Science Center
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer, UTHSC, on her sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to include a specific sex discrimination claim on her EEOC intake sheet and consequently did not exhaust her administrative remedies on that claim; plaintiff's subsequent claim regarding sex discrimination not based upon harassment fell outside the scope of the EEOC investigation and could not reasonably be expected to grow out of her initial charge of sexual harassment; the incidents described by plaintiff were insufficient to demonstrate pervasive hostility toward her as a matter of law, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment for UTHSC on plaintiff's sexual harassment claim; and a jury could reasonably conclude that UTHSC's reasons for not renewing plaintiff's contract was pretextual. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hague v. UT Health and Science Center" on Justia Law
Lizalde v. Vista Quality Markets
Vista, plaintiff's employer, appealed the district court's denial of Vista's motion to compel arbitration of plaintiff's on-the-job injury claim. The court held that even if the Benefit Plan and the Arbitration Agreement were properly considered as part of a single contract, the termination provision found in the Benefit Plan did not apply to the Arbitration Agreement. Accordingly, the court concluded that the Arbitration Agreement was not illusory under Texas law because Vista's power to terminate the Arbitration Agreement was properly constrained. The court reversed and remanded for the district court to enter an order compelling arbitration. View "Lizalde v. Vista Quality Markets" on Justia Law
Flex Frac Logistics, L.L.C., et al. v. NLRB
Flex Frac petitioned for review of an order by the NLRB holding that Flex Frac's employee confidentiality policy is an unfair labor practice in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158. The NLRB cross-petitioned for enforcement. The ALJ found that although there was no reference to wages or other specific terms and conditions of employment in the confidentiality clause, the clause nonetheless violated Section 8(a)(1) because it was overly broad and contained language employees could reasonably interpret as restricting the exercise of their Section 7 rights. The NLRB affirmed. As an initial matter, the court declined to address the merits of Flex Frac's constitutional argument regarding the NLRB's authority to render the decision currently before the court and instead held that Flex Frac waived its constitutional challenge by failing to raise it in its initial brief. The court concluded that Flex Frac's contention that the NLRB's interpretation of the confidentiality clause was unreasonable was without merit and rejected Flex Frac's remaining arguments. Accordingly, the court rejected Flex Frac's petition for review and enforced the NLRB's order. View "Flex Frac Logistics, L.L.C., et al. v. NLRB" on Justia Law
Grimes v. BNSF Railway Co.
Plaintiff appealed a judgment giving collateral-estoppel effect, in his Federal Railway Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. 20109, suit, to a finding of fact made by a Public Law Board in the course of plaintiff's pursuit of his rights under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with BNSF. The court concluded that, because it was the railroad that conducted the investigation and hearing and terminated plaintiff, and because the Board only reviewed a close record, the procedures were not adequate for collateral estoppel to apply. The court rejected BNSF's election-of-remedies argument where plaintiff sought protection under the CBA for his contractual claims and the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 153, was not itself the source of law under which plaintiff sought protection. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Grimes v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law
Villanueva v. U.S. Dept. of Labor
Petitioner filed a complaint with OSHA, asserting that Saybolt and Core Labs had violated Section 806 of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, Title VIII of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. 1514A(a), by retaliating against him for blowing the whistle on an alleged scheme to violate Colombian tax law. OSHA, an ALJ, and the Board all rejected petitioner's complaint. The court concluded that petitioner did not demonstrate that he engaged in protected conduct because he did not complain, based on a reasonable belief, that one of six enumerated categories of U.S. law had been violated. Petitioner had not demonstrated that he engaged in any protected activity, and given this, the court could not say that Core Labs knew that petitioner engaged in a protected activity that was a contributing factor in the unfavorable actions of withholding petitioner's pay raise and ultimately terminating him. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Board's dismissal of petitioner's complaint because he had not demonstrated that his claim fell within the scope of section 806. View "Villanueva v. U.S. Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law
Williams-Boldware v. Denton County Texas
Plaintiff filed suit alleging, inter alia, that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her race. The court concluded that the evidence did not support a hostile work environment claim and Denton County was entitled to judgment as a matter of law; because plaintiff failed to plead facts sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss on her failure to promote claim, the district court did not err by denying discovery and dismissing the suit against the Individual Defendants; and, therefore, the court reversed in part and affirmed in part. View "Williams-Boldware v. Denton County Texas" on Justia Law
ConocoPhillips, Inc. v. Local 13-0555 United Steelworkers Int’l Union
USW appealed the district court's vacatur of an arbitral award against Conoco involving dismissal of a refinery employee who failed a workplace drug test. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that Conoco did not clearly and unmistakably agree to arbitrate arbitrability and affirmed the district court's determination that the employee's discharge was not arbitrable under the collective bargaining agreement and its decision to vacate the arbitration award. View "ConocoPhillips, Inc. v. Local 13-0555 United Steelworkers Int'l Union" on Justia Law
Williams v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co.
In this diversity case, at issue was whether plaintiff, a Mississippi resident injured in Mississippi while working for an Alabama resident contractor, had an action in tort for damages against the employer's worker's compensation insurer because of the insurer's intentional bad-faith refusal to pay him worker's compensation when due. The court concluded that under Mississippi's choice-of-law principles, plaintiff's tort suit was governed by Mississippi substantive law. Further, the district court erroneously concluded that, under Mississippi law, the insurer's alleged intentional bad faith refusal to pay plaintiff's worker's compensation was merely a breach of contract and not an independent tort committed by the carrier outside the scope of plaintiff's employment as the Mississippi Supreme Court held in Southern Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co. v. Holland. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Williams v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Venable, et al. v. Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corp.
Plaintiffs appealed a summary judgment in favor of the LWCC, which cross-appealed the denial of its motion to dismiss for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. Because the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the state claims plaintiffs brought against LWCC, the court need not decide whether the district court correctly determined that LWCC's decision to withhold consent on the settlement was a proper exercise of its power under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 901-950. Accordingly, the court reversed summary judgment and rendered a judgment of dismissal for want of jurisdiction. View "Venable, et al. v. Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corp." on Justia Law