Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Bates v. Dura Auto. Sys., Inc.
Dura began testing employees at its Lawrenceburg, Tennessee manufacturing facility for substances in illegal drugs and in prescription medications packaged with warnings about operating machinery. Plaintiffs, none of whom has a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), worked at the facility and took various prescribed medications. After they tested positive, Dura directed the employees to disclose their medications to FFS, a third-party company hired to administer the tests. FFS reported the machine-restricted drugs to Dura, which warned plaintiffs to discontinue using the offending medications. After retests came back positive, Dura terminated their employment. Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12112(d)(4)(A), which prohibits employers from requiring “medical examination[s]” or “mak[ing] inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability ... unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.” A jury found for all but one plaintiff and awarded damages of more than $870,000. The Sixth Circuit reversed a holding that Dura’s drug-testing protocol constituted as a matter of law, a medical examination or disability inquiry and the related punitive-damages award. On remand, the jury must decide whether Dura’s drug testing constituted a medical examination or disability inquiry, relying on definitions and illustrative examples provided by EEOC guidance. If the jury finds Dura liable, it can proceed to consider punitive damages. The court affirmed with respect to the availability of statutory damages and the jury’s adverse business necessity/ job-relatedness verdict. View "Bates v. Dura Auto. Sys., Inc." on Justia Law
Wallace v. FedEx Corp.
Wallace worked for FedEx for 21 years in a variety of positions. By 2007, she was a senior paralegal, but she had a variety of health problems that required her to take leave from her position. FedEx offered Wallace leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and its representatives verbally asked her to complete a medical-certification form. FedEx never explained the consequences of not returning a completed form. Wallace failed to provide FedEx with medical certification, and once she was absent for two consecutive days after the form was due, FedEx terminated her employment. Wallace filed suit under the FMLA, alleging that FedEx interfered with her rights under the statute. A jury awarded damages of $173,000, which the judge reduced to $90,788. The Sixth Circuit reversed the remittitur decision and ordered the magistrate judge to enter judgment in favor of Wallace in the amount of $173,000. View "Wallace v. FedEx Corp." on Justia Law
Kutty v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor
Dr. Kutty ran Tennessee and Florida medical clinics under several corporate entities. Physicians employed by the clinics entered the U.S. on J-1 nonimmigrant visas, 8 U.S.C. 1182(j)(1) that allow physicians to remain in the U.S. for graduate and medical training, but require them to return to their home country for two years following the J-1 visa’s expiration upon completion of their studies. A government agency may request a J-1 waiver of the two-year requirement on the physicians’ behalf if the physician has a contract to practice medicine for at least three years in an area designated as having a shortage of health-care professionals. Each of the 17 physicians Kutty employed obtained a J-1 waiver. Kutty signed Labor Condition Applications, certifying that they would be paid the greater of the actual wage level the employer paid to other individuals with similar experience for the type of employment at issue or the prevailing wage level for the occupational classification in the area of employment. Applicable rates ranged from $52,291 to $115,357. When an administrator told Kutty that physicians were absent or arriving late, Kutty withheld salaries, which he released when they began seeing more patients. The doctors complained to the Department of Labor claiming. The Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division found multiple violations. An Administrative Law Judge affirmed, found the clinics liable for back wages and the costs of obtaining J-1 waivers and H-1B visas, held Kutty personally liable, and assessed a civil penalty. The Administrative Review Board affirmed; the district court dismissed Kutty’s petition for review. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.View "Kutty v. U.S. Dep't of Labor" on Justia Law
Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Auth.
Kroll was an emergency medical technician (EMT) for WLAA when she began a romantic affair with her married coworker. As the relationship unraveled, Kroll became increasingly emotional at work. After Kroll had a personal altercation with one a coworker, her supervisor expressed concern regarding her “immoral” sexual conduct and demanded that she undergo psychological counseling. When Kroll refused, she was fired. Kroll claimed that WLAA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring a medical examination that was not “job-related and consistent with business necessity,” 42 U.S.C. 12112(d)(4)(A). On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of WLAA. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that there was evidence record to establish a genuine factual dispute as to whether the required counseling was “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” View "Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Auth." on Justia Law
Range v. Douglas
Over several years, Douglas sexually abused the dead bodies of murder victims held at the Hamilton County Morgue. His abuse of a body in 1982 led to a false rape conviction. Douglas’s actions were discovered in 2007 after his DNA was matched to semen found in the bodies. Douglas admitted to the abuse. He was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine every time he abused the bodies. Douglas was supervised by Kersker, the morgue director. Kersker admitted having concerns about Douglas’s tardiness and dependability as early as 1980. A co-worker testified that he often smelled alcohol on Douglas before, during, or after his shift. Douglas testified that his cocaine addiction was so bad by 1992 that he could not perform his duties due to heavy shaking. Douglas’s former wife testified that she called Kersker to complain that Douglas was drinking at work. Kersker hung up on her. Kersker may have known that Douglas was often having sex with live women at the morgue. Kersker knew about a domestic violence charge and DUIs because Douglas requested vacation time for incarceration. Douglas testified that he told Kersker about his suicide attempt, his psychiatric hospital stay, and his alcoholism. Kersker’s supervision of Douglas never changed. Relatives sued Douglas, who was also convicted of gross abuse of a corpse, and his supervisors, under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court rejected the claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. A jury could find that the defendants recklessly and wantonly failed to supervise Douglas despite the known risks he posed to the bodies, so the court properly denied Ohio statutory immunity. The relatives, however, cannot establish a constitutional violation, despite the special nature of their relationship to their deceased relatives.View "Range v. Douglas" on Justia Law
DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Zemla
DiGeronimo and other employers contributed to the Teamsters Local Union No. 293 Pension Plan, which is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001–1461. Defendants are trustees of the Plan and managed the Plan, including negotiating and ratifying contribution rates and overseeing the Plan’s investments and expenses. Defendants terminated the Plan in December 2009 because substantially all of the Plan’s contributing employers withdrew from paying contributions. Defendants assessed $1,755,733 in “withdrawal liability” to DiGeronimo, which represents its share of the $49,000,000 in unfunded, vested benefits that the contributing employers owed the Plan. DiGeronimo sued defendants under 29 U.S.C. 1451(a), alleging that defendants negligently managed the Plan’s assets, causing increased withdrawal liability. The district court dismissed holding, that there was no substantive basis for the negligence claim in any section of ERISA or under the federal common law. The Sixth Circuit affirmed: a contributing employer to a multiemployer pension plan has no cause of action against plan trustees for negligent management under the federal common law of ERISA pension plans. View "DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Zemla" on Justia Law
McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ’g, Inc.
McCarthy worked at Ameritech, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, until her position was terminated in 2008 as part of a reduction in forces. She sought to retire at that time to care for her ailing husband, but Ameritech allegedly told her that she was not eligible to receive post-retirement healthcare benefits, on which her husband depended. She elected to continue working through the company’s Employment Opportunity Pool for another nine months, until she turned 65 and retired with benefits. She then filed suit alleging, among other things, age and sex discrimination. After Ameritech admitted that McCarthy was, in fact, entitled to post-retirement healthcare benefits when it terminated her position in 2008, she amended her suit to add a claim for fraudulent inducement. The district court awarded summary judgment, rejecting the merits of each claim. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part. McCarthy may present her fraudulent-inducement claim to a jury. The district court properly awarded summary judgment to the defendants on each of the other claims View "McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ'g, Inc." on Justia Law
McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ’g, Inc.
The employer implemented a force reduction in its Dayton, Ohio, office in 2008. Managers informed McCarthy that her position would be terminated the following month and provided McCarthy with two options. She could retire and receive a lump-sum termination payment. If she selected this option, she was allegedly told that she would not receive certain retirement benefits. She chose the other option, entering AT&T’s Employment Opportunity Pool to continue to receive healthcare benefits and a reduced wage until she reached age 65 in May 2009, when she retired with full benefits. In August 2010 McCarthy filed suit. During the litigation, McCarthy submitted several requests for admission (RFAs), but the employer refused to admit the veracity of the disputed facts. More than a year later, the employer turned over an email establishing that one of the disputed facts was true. McCarthy moved for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c)(2). The district court granted the request, awarding $15,313.11, a fraction of what she sought. The Sixth Circuit remanded for recalculation of the amount.View "McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ'g, Inc." on Justia Law
Central OH Coal Co. v. Dir.r, Office of Workers’ Comp. Programs
Sterling, a former coal miner, received a favorable decision from an administrative law judge (ALJ) declaring him eligible for benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901. The Department of Labor’s Benefits Review Board affirmed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition by Sterling’s employer that argued that the ALJ wrongly applied the statutory presumption of pneumoconiosis, improperly discredited certain medical opinions disputing Sterling’s pneumoconiosis diagnosis, and failed to explain his resolution of conflicting evidence about the extent of Sterling’s past cigarette smoking. View "Central OH Coal Co. v. Dir.r, Office of Workers' Comp. Programs" on Justia Law
Crugher v. Prelesnik
Crugher, a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) employee working at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF), sued Prelesnik, the warden of the ICF, claiming that Crugher was retaliated against, subjected to harassment and intimidation, and ultimately terminated after he took time off under the self-care provision of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2612(a)(1)(D). Crugher sought reinstatement. The district court dismissed on the grounds that the claim is barred by sovereign immunity or, alternatively, was untimely under the two-year limitations period in the FMLA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that an action by a state employee seeking prospective injunctive relief (reinstatement) against a state official under the FMLA’s self-care provision is subject to the limitations period contained in the FMLA. In addition, Crugher failed to state a willful violation of the FMLA; allowing Crugher to amend his complaint to allege willfulness, to take advantage of an extended three-year limitations period, would be futile. View "Crugher v. Prelesnik" on Justia Law