Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Ebersole v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Novo, and former superivisor at Novo, alleging that Novo terminated her in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff could not establish that defendants acted with discriminatory animus against plaintiff for taking FMLA leave. Applying the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, the court concluded that plaintiff could not demonstrate pretext; plaintiff did not adduce enough evidence to rebut Novo's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for her termination; and, therefore, plaintiff has not produced sufficient probative evidence that her termination was the result of unlawful FMLA retaliation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "Ebersole v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Spencer v. Annett Holdings, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Annett, alleging that the company acted in bad faith when it failed to provide medical care and refused to pay him healing-period benefits. Annett counter-claimed for fraud. The court concluded that the district court correctly ruled that plaintiff was required to exhaust his claim with the commissioner; under Iowa law, Annett had a reasonable basis to believe that it could request plaintiff to undergo an examination by the company's chosen physician and plaintiff's refusal to submit to the examination made the propriety of the company's denial of healing-period benefits at least fairly debatable; therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment for Annett on plaintiff's bad-faith failure to pay benefits claim; and, under either Iowa law or federal law, Annett was judicially estopped from proceeding against plaintiff because Annett had admitted liability in plaintiff's alternate care petition. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. Annett's motion to strike portions of plaintiff's supplemental appendix was denied as moot. View "Spencer v. Annett Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Hemminghaus v. State of Missouri, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against the State for violating section 102(a) of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2612(a), and against Judge Gaertner, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, for retaliating against her for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech. The court concluded that plaintiff was not an eligible employee covered by the FMLA because she was a member of the personal staff of the judge, who held a public elective office; although plaintiff's blog posts and other speech discussed her own case in detail, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's speech related to a matter of public concern; plaintiff's actions were sufficient evidence of disruption; plaintiff did not cite clearly established law putting the judge on notice that Pickering balancing in a situation such as this would fall in plaintiff's favor, nor did the court identify any such case law; and the district court correctly determined that the judge was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's section 1983 claim where the judge did not have notice that his termination of an insubordinate employee who compromised the propriety and efficiency of his courtroom could violate her right to free speech. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Hemminghaus v. State of Missouri, et al." on Justia Law
Malloy v. United States Postal Service
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Postal Service, alleging that the Postal Service violated her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., after she was terminated for absenteeism. Plaintiff worked for the Postal Service under a series of appointments in a status known as a "casual" employee. The court concluded that plaintiff's case consisted of an unpersuasive argument of temporal proximity combined with a collection of challenges to agency practice and explanations that did not support an inference of impermissible motive. Accordingly, this was not a submissible case of discrimination and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Malloy v. United States Postal Service" on Justia Law
EEOC v. Audrain Health Care, Inc.
The EEOC filed suit against Audrain, alleging that Audrain violated federal civil rights statutes by refusing to consider David Lunceford to a vacant operating room nurse position on the basis of his sex. The district court concluded that Lunceford did not suffer an adverse employment decision because he never completed a Request for Transfer form so Audrain never made a decision to deny him the position. In light of the evidence, the court concluded that Lunceford did not make every reasonable attempt to convey his interest in the position and the district court did not err in concluding that the EEOC did not establish a claim of employment discrimination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "EEOC v. Audrain Health Care, Inc." on Justia Law
Nord v. Walsh County, et al.
Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against the County and the sheriff after he was terminated as deputy sheriff. The court concluded, under the Pickering/Connick balancing test, that at least some of plaintiff's campaign speech does not merit First Amendment protection; that even if plaintiff's speech was fully protected by the Constitution, the sheriff could have reasonably believed that the speech would be at least potentially damaging and disruptive of the discipline and harmony of and among coworkers in the sheriff's office and detrimental to the close working relationships and personal loyalties necessary for an effective and trusted local policing operation; considering North Dakota law and well-established federal and state jurisprudence, the sheriff could have logically and rationally believed that his decision to terminate plaintiff was well within his duties as a public official; and that the sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity to shield him from any liability. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of the sheriff's motion for summary judgment. View "Nord v. Walsh County, et al." on Justia Law
PSC Custom, LP v. United Steel, etc.
Polar Tank discharged a maintenance technician for failing to safely complete repair of an overhead crane. The Union grieved the discharge and the grievance was submitted to arbitration. The arbitrator partially upheld the grievance, reducing the technician's discipline to a thirty-day unpaid suspension. Polar Tank sued to vacate the arbitration award and the Union counterclaimed to enforce it. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment enforcing the award where the award at issue drew its essence from the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The arbitrator considered the technician's poor performance and concluded that it constituted negligence but not the type of insubordination for which Article 29 mandated discharge; the court rejected Polar Tank's claim that the arbitrator was wrong to disregard the Standards of Conduct; and the arbitrator did not err in disregarding the Management Rights clause. View "PSC Custom, LP v. United Steel, etc." on Justia Law
Young v. Builders Steel Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, alleging race discrimination and retaliation. The court concluded that plaintiff was unable to show a prima facie case of discrimination because he failed to show circumstances which would give rise to an inference of discrimination. Plaintiff also failed to show direct or inferential evidence his employer engaged in retaliation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. View "Young v. Builders Steel Co." on Justia Law
Clay v. Credit Bureau Enterprises, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, CBE, under 42 U.S.C. 1981, alleging claims of race discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, and constructive discharge. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CBE. The court concluded that, even considering the otherwise time-barred acts that were similar to the acts that occurred within the limitations period, plaintiff failed to set forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on her hostile work environment claim. The twelve incidents of alleged harassment that occurred after March 1, 2007, as well as the similar acts that occurred before then, taken together are not sufficiently severe or pervasive to show that plaintiff's work environment was objectively offensive. Having affirmed the district court's decision on the hostile work environment claim, the court need not further address plaintiff's constructive discharge claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Clay v. Credit Bureau Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law
Kmak v. American Century Co.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his second amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Because Missouri's public policy required American Century not to retaliate against plaintiff for testifying in the arbitration proceeding at issue, plaintiff has alleged a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing sufficient to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Accordingly, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's complaint. View "Kmak v. American Century Co." on Justia Law