Articles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs filed suit against OEF and Hugo under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-1 et seq., and Nebraska law, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. Plaintiffs Davis and Duncan also sued Joe Ricketts, the CEO of OEF and owner of Hugo, for tortious interference with their expectation of continued employment. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Hugo and OEF because the court found that the undisputed facts in the record show that OEF and Hugo are not an integrated enterprise and because the court agreed with the district court that Ricketts, as CEO of OEF and acting on behalf of OEF, cannot be a third party interferer. View "Davis, et al. v. Ricketts, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, current or former "gang-time" employees at Tyson, filed a class action suit against Tyson for not paying wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law, Iowa Code 91A.1 et seq. Plaintiffs claimed that Tyson's K-code time was insufficient to cover compensable pre- and post-production line activities. A jury returned a verdict for the class and Tyson appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class; the court rejected Tyson's contention that the class should be decertified because evidence at trial showed that some class members did not work overtime and would receive no FLSA damages even if Tyson under-compensated their donning, doffing, and walking; the court concluded that Tyson exaggerated the authority for its contention; sufficient evidence existed to support a "reasonable inference" of classwide liability; and plaintiffs showed uncompensated overtime work by applying average donning, doffing, and walking times to employee timesheets. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Bouaphakeo, et al. v. Tyson Foods, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Tyson for not paying wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and under Iowa law. The jury returned a verdict for Tyson and plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not err in letting the jury decide that donning, doffing, and walking were not "integral or indispensable to a principal activity;" because plaintiffs must prove their case on a classwide basis, the district court did not err in failing to give Reich v. IBP, Inc. and IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez preclusive effect; sufficient evidence existed that the disputed activities were not integral and indispensable classwide; sufficient evidence supported a finding that plaintiffs failed to prove damages for knife users; there was no error in allowing the jury to hear evidence on Tyson's good faith defense; plaintiffs failed to show an abuse of discretion in excluding documentary evidence; and summary judgment was appropriate that donning and doffing during the 35-minute meal period is not compensable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Guyton, et al. v. Tyson Foods" on Justia Law

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The Union appealed from the district court's order vacating an arbitration award. PSC argued that the plain language of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the Standards of Conduct mandate that an employee found guilty of insubordination be discharged. PSC claimed that after the arbitrator found that the employee at issue in this case had been insubordinate, the arbitrator was required to uphold the employee's discharge. The court concluded that whether the employee's discharge was for just cause was a matter of contract interpretation that was within the arbitrator's authority. In this case, the arbitrator did not exceed his authority by concluding that PSC did not have just cause to discharge the employee and by reducing the penalty from discharge to suspension, because his award draws its essence from the CBA. The court reversed and remanded with directions that the arbitration award be reinstated. View "PSC Custom, LP v. United Steel, Paper, etc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), Minn. Stat. 363A et seq., alleging that the County discriminated her based on her sex and her age when they terminated her employment. Plaintiff also claimed that the County retaliated against her after she took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment on her MHRA discrimination claims. The court concluded that the County offered a non-discriminatory, legitimate justification for its conduct - plaintiff was terminated based on her repeated record-keeping errors - and plaintiff failed to show that the County's reasons for firing her was pretextual. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's sex discrimination claim. Further, plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to her sex-plus age discrimination claim where her two male co-workers of comparable age did not engage in sufficiently similar misconduct or have a similar disciplinary history. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Doucette v. Morrison County, Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The EEOC and Adam Breaux, a terminated employee of PFI, appealed the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment in favor of PFI. Breaux asserted that PFI discriminated against him based on his right shoulder injury and the district court erred in granting summary judgment on this claim. The court concluded that the year-long period that PFI accommodated Breaux's injury negated causation; and the casual, somewhat ambiguous conversation that took place in August 2009, does not establish a causal connection between Breaux's termination and his disability. Even if a prima facie case was established, because PFI has advanced a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Breaux - poor performance - the burden shifted back to the EEOC and Breaux to show that PFI's proffered reason is pretext for intentional discrimination. In this case, the EEOC and Breaux failed to show pretext. Therefore, the district court correctly granted summary judgment on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12112(a), discrimination claim. Further, the district court properly granted summary judgment on the ADA failure-to-accommodate claim where Breaux failed to prove that he requested an accommodation. Because the district court properly dismissed the discrimination and retaliation claims, the court affirmed its dismissal of the successor liability claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "EEOC v. Product Fabricators, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, individually and in his official capacity as a circuit judge, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq, as well as statutory violations. Plaintiff contended that defendant unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of a disability, his back injury, by terminating him and by failing to accommodate his disability, and retaliated against him for requesting an accommodation. The court concluded that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial regarding whether defendant discriminated against plaintiff on the basis of his disability; the record demonstrated that defendant accommodated all of plaintiff's known limitations during the period of his employment at issue; and defendant did not violate the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by retaliating against him for requesting accommodation for his disability where plaintiff failed to establish a genuine issue for trial regarding a causal connection; and plaintiff failed to make a submissible case of interference with his FMLA rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Withers v. Johnson, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Prairie Ethanol on his claim of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12201 et seq. Assuming, without deciding, that plaintiff established a prima facie case of disability discrimination, Prairie Ethanol has offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for terminating his employment - plaintiff's overly aggressive style of operating the plant, which resulted in the plant machinery swinging on three occasions and nearly losing the plant on one of those three occasions. Prairie Ethanol's performance-related concern constituted a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for discharging plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Cody v. Prairie Ethanol, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit to collect fringe benefits owed to union employee benefit funds by a plumbing company under 29 U.S.C. 1145. The court concluded that O'Laughlin did not unequivocally express an intent to terminate its participation in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for two reasons. First, under the circumstances, the court's examination of O'Loughlin's conduct was paramount to the court's consideration of the two letters it sent to the Union. Here, O'Laughlin manifested an intent to abide and be bound by the terms of the CBA by continuing to make fringe benefit contributions on behalf of its employees throughout the 2011 calendar year. Second, the two letters O'Laughlin sent to the Union were ineffective to express an unequivocal intent to terminate participation in the CBA in any event. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's determination that O'Laughlin unequivocally terminated its participation in the CBA and remanded for further proceedings. View "Twin City Pipe Trades Service v. O'Laughlin Plumbing & Heating" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, CSG, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., alleging claims of gender discrimination and retaliation. The court concluded that, assuming without deciding, that plaintiff established a prima facie case of gender discrimination, CSG offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for terminating her employment where CSG identified substantial performance-related problems; plaintiff failed to prove there was pretext for the gender discrimination; and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's discrimination claim. Likewise, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that CSG's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her employment was pretextual. Accordingly, the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's retaliation claim as well. View "Fiero v. CSG Systems, Inc." on Justia Law