Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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ABM petitioned for review of the Board's determination that the Union's effort to represent the workers who handle airline baggage was governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq., and not the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq. The court concluded that the Board violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(a), by applying a new test to determine whether the RLA applies, without explaining its reasons for doing so. Because an agency's unexplained departure from precedent was arbitrary and capricious, the court vacated the Board's order. In this case, the court held that the Board was not free to simply adopt the NMB's new approach without offering a reasoned explanation for that shift. The court explained that an agency cannot avoid its duty to explain a departure from its own precedent simply by pointing to another agency's unexplained departure from precedent. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, denied the Board's cross-application for enforcement, and vacated the order, remanding for further proceedings. View "ABM Onsite Services - West, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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29 of the bargaining unit's 54 employees had signed a decertification petition asking Scomas to withdraw recognition from the Union immediately if the petitioners make up 50% or more of the bargaining unit. Unaware that six employees had revoked their signatures, Scomas withdrew recognition from the Union. Consequently, the Union filed an unfair labor practice with the Board, and the Board ruled in favor of the Union. Scomas petitioned for review of the Board's order to recognize and bargain with the Union. The court concluded that Scomas violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. However, the court concluded that the Board abused its discretion in imposing a bargaining order. In this case, far from being deliberate or calculated, the court determined that Scomas's violation was unintentional and the company acted in good faith on a facially valid decertification petition. Because the bargaining order does not further the Act's purposes, the court granted the petition for review, denied the cross-application for enforcement, and vacated the bargaining order, remanding to the Board for the determination of a new remedy. View "Scomas of Sausalito v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant after he was terminated from his position as a cook, alleging that defendant retaliated against him for his previous complaints under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 660(c); under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C 12101 et seq.; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 623(d). The court rejected plaintiff's claim that defendant fired him in retaliation for his filing of a complaint with OSHA, and declined to recognize a new implied cause of action under Section 11(c). The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that defendant's stated reason for firing plaintiff was a pretext for retaliation. In this case, the record lacks any direct or indirect evidence of retaliation. Rather, the record contained a plethora of evidence supporting defendant's stated reason for firing plaintiff: 13 violations of company policy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Johnson v. Interstate Management" on Justia Law

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FedEx petitioned for review of the Board's conclusion that single-route FedEx drivers based at the Hartford, Connecticut terminal were "employees" under the National Labor Relation Act, 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. In FedEx Home Delivery v. NLRB (FedEx I), 563 F.3d 492 (D.C. Cir. 2009), this court held that single-route FedEx drivers working out of Wilmington, Massachusetts were independent contractors, not employees, as the latter term was defined in the Act. The court concluded that this current case was materially indistinguishable from FedEx I; the Hartford single-route FedEX drivers were independent contractors to whom the Act's protections for collective action did not apply; and the court granted FedEx's petitions, vacated the Board's orders, and denied the Board's cross-appeal for enforcement. View "FedEx Home Delivery v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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After Tito refused to bargain with the Union, the Union filed an unfair labor practice complaint. The Board eventually granted summary judgment, ordering Tito to bargain with the Union. Tito petitioned for review and the Board cross-applied for enforcement of its order. At issue is what bargaining unit is appropriate when so varied a workforce seeks union representation. The Board concluded that Tito's employees should be included in a "wall-to-wall" bargaining unit. The court concluded that the Board failed to consider evidence pointing to the absence of the required "community of interest" among them. In this case, the Board's order is not supported by substantial evidence where the Board failed to recognize the unchallenged assertion that Tito's business comprised two discrete halves—a labor side and a recycling services side; the Board failed to consider the lack of interchange among the different types of Tito employees; and the Board overlooked the significant differences among Tito's employees' wages, hours, and other working conditions. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, denied the application for enforcement, and remanded for further proceedings. View "NLRB v. Tito Contractors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Woodcrest seeks to set aside the Board's order requiring it to bargain with the Union and to remand for a new election. The court rejected Woodcrest's claims that the denial of its request to subpoena six individuals irreparably prejudiced its case; that the Hearing Officer abused his discretion when he refused to permit eight, already-subpoenaed witnesses to testify; and that the Hearing Officer abused his discretion by refusing to allow Woodcrest to treat Vergel de Dios as a hostile witness. Therefore, the court held that the Board did not abuse its discretion and denied Woodcrest's request to set aside the Board's order and to remand with direction for a new election. The court granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement of the same order. View "800 River Road Operating Co. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The company seeks review of the Board's decision and order that the company violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5). The court rejected the company's challenges to three Board rulings, involving the company’s failure to provide the Union with requested information, its unilateral changes to the grievance procedure under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and its failure to process a discrimination complaint as a grievance. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Board's cross-application for enforcement of its decision and order. View "Public Service Company v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Kennedy, a D.C. fireman, had a beard. Department policy required him to shave it. Because of a medical condition, he could not do so without discomfort and infection. The Department refused to accommodate his condition. Kennedy sued, alleging 28 counts, including disability discrimination, arguing that his condition was a “disability” as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008. The district court dismissed eight counts resting on that definition. Kennedy appealed that order on an interlocutory basis under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b), which provides an appellate court with jurisdiction to review an interlocutory order “if application is made to it within ten days after the entry of the order.” Kennedy filed a notice of appeal in the district court two days after the court denied reconsideration but waited several weeks before filing his application in the D.C. Circuit. The Circuit Court dismissed, rejecting Kennedy’s argument that the notice of appeal and the order denying reconsideration, both of which were transmitted to the Circuit Court within the statutory period, served the same purpose as an application. Even assuming the “functional equivalent” of an application satisfies section 1292(b) and Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the notice and order here did not meet that description. View "Kennedy v. Bowser" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a 59-year-old African-American, filed suit alleging that he was improperly terminated by his employer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.; the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. 1981; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Washington Post. The court concluded that a reasonable jury could find that the Washington Post’s proffered non-discriminatory reason – “willful neglect of duty and insubordination” – “was not the actual reason” for plaintiff's termination. Furthermore, a reasonable jury could conclude that, but for the fact that plaintiff was fifty-nine years old, he would not have been terminated. View "DeJesus v. WP Company LLC" on Justia Law

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NCR seeks review of the Board's decision and order that NCR violated section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(5) & (1), when it refused to bargain with the Union after a mail ballot election. The court concluded that the Board did not abuse its discretion in rejecting NCR’s objections to the conduct of the election; NCR’s objections to the election stem from a misreading of the Agreement and Notice, and from a disagreement with the Board’s policy on handling late-received ballots; the Board’s adherence to the parties’ stipulated agreements as to phrasing of the instructions and the ballot count date does not constitute an election irregularity; the Board was under no obligation to discuss the decisions on which NCR relies where the grounds for distinction are readily apparent; and absent an election irregularity resulting from the Board’s conduct of the election, the Board’s disenfranchisement precedent is inapplicable. The court also concluded that the Board’s interpretation, based on the balancing of conflicting interests in affording employees the broadest participation in election proceedings while still protecting against “delay and uncertainty,” is consistent with its precedent. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review and granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "NCR Corp. v. NLRB" on Justia Law