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

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Plaintiff filed suit against Frederick Tucker and the county sheriff, alleging unlawful retaliation after she supported a different candidate in an election for presiding judge. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to Tucker based on qualified immunity, holding that plaintiff provided sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to conclude that Tucker violated plaintiff's right to support an electoral candidate of her choice. Furthermore, the First Amendment right was clearly established at the time. View "Jenkins v. Tucker" on Justia Law

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After he was injured while working on MNA's railroad tracks, plaintiff and his wife filed suit against MNA under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and under Arkansas state law. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of MNA's motion for summary judgment, holding that no reasonable jury could find that MNA controlled or had the right to control plaintiff's work. In this case, NARS was the sole entity that had the right to control plaintiff's work. NARS hired plaintiff, trained him, and sent him to do maintenance work on railroads. MNA did not have a duty to warn plaintiff of the well-known dangers of rip-rap, and thus plaintiff's negligence claim failed as a matter of law. View "Royal v. MO & Northern AR Railroad" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against McGraw-Hill, alleging claims of employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1981, and the Missouri Human Rights Act. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of McGraw-Hill, holding that plaintiff failed to show a pretext for discrimination on his claim that two white counterparts were paid a higher salary; plaintiff failed to establish a case of salary discrimination on his claim that he was denied a spot bonus where no similarly situated employee was treated differently; in regard to the hostile work environment claim, plaintiff failed to show a causal connection between the alleged acts of harassment and his race; one race-related comment that plaintiff allegedly overheard did not constitute harassment sufficiently severe and pervasive to support a hostile work environment claim; and, in regard to the discriminatory discharge claim, even if plaintiff established a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge, he did not meet his burden to show that McGraw-Hill's proffered reason for discharging him was pretext for discrimination. In this case, plaintiff's documented performance deficiencies constituted a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for discharging him. Finally, any claim of retaliation failed because plaintiff failed to show a causal connection between the alleged retaliatory act and protected conduct. View "Stone v. McGraw-Hill Global Financial" on Justia Law

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EMT appealed the district court's denial of summary judgment in this consolidated putative class- and collective-action case. The district court granted partial summary judgment for plaintiff on the issue of EMT's liability to pay him for unpaid overtime. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in failing to give controlling deference to 49 C.F.R. 571.3(b)(1) in interpreting the term "covered employee" with respect to section 306 of the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008 (TCA), Pub. L. No. 110-244, Title III, 306(a)(2008). In light of the comprehensive redesign and conversion process the paralift vans underwent before being placed into service, the paralift vans plaintiff drove were not "designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers" under TCA 306(c). Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that EMT was liable to plaintiff for overtime pay. View "LaCurtis v. Express Medical Transporters" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition to vacate an arbitration award issued by a System Board of Adjustment under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq. Petitioner, a pilot for a predecessor of Endeavor Air, had grieved his termination to the Board, arguing that his termination was without cause. The Eighth Circuit concluded that petitioner failed to allege any procedural deficiencies in the arbitration process and thus his procedural due process claim was without merit; the award does not violate public policy and petitioner's contention that the award affirms his termination was not a valid reason to set aside the award; because the Board's determination was not contrary to the plain language of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), petitioner's argument that the Board's conduct violated the anti-harassment policy had no merit; and nothing in the CBA required any progression through the disciplinary measures and thus the Board properly applied the CBA. View "Sullivan v. Endeavor Air, Inc." on Justia Law

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General Mills terminated employees and offered them benefits in exchange for releasing all Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 626(f)(1), claims and arbitrating release-related disputes. Plaintiffs, 33 employees who signed releases, subsequently filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the releases were not "knowing and voluntary." Plaintiffs also raised collective and individual ADEA claims. The district court denied General Mills' motion to compel arbitration. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that the agreement to arbitrate applies only to claims "relating to" the release of claims, and their substantive ADEA claims are not related to the release of claims. Rather, the court found that the agreements' "relating to" sentence showed the parties' intent to arbitrate both disputes about the release and substantive ADEA claims. Therefore, the ADEA claims were covered by the agreements. The court explained that, absent a contrary congressional command, General Mills can compel employees who signed the agreements to arbitrate their ADEA claims. In this case, the court concluded that no "contrary congressional command" overrides the Federal Arbitration Act's (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., mandate to enforce the parties' agreement to arbitrate substantive ADEA claims. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. General Mills, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Board ruled that Missouri Red committed an unfair labor practice in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5), by refusing to recognize and collectively bargain with the union. The Board certified the union only after it upheld a challenge to Steve Johnston's potentially determinative ballot by declaring him a statutory supervisor and thus not entitled to vote. Missouri Red contended that this was error and petitioned for review of the Board's decision. The court concluded that sufficient evidence supported the conclusion that Johnson was a supervisor and exercised independent judgment in effectively recommending applicants for hire; the Board did not act capriciously in finding that Johnson exercised independent judgment; and a number of secondary indicia supported the Board's determination that Johnston is a supervisor. Therefore, the court denied Missouri Red's petition for review and granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "NLRB v. Missouri Red Quarries, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was injured as a delivery driver for UPS and UPS failed to offer him another full time position that he was able to perform, plaintiff filed suit for disability discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment to UPS. The court concluded that the district court correctly concluded as a matter of law that plaintiff was not qualified to perform the essential job functions for the delivery driver position; however, the district court erred by determining as a matter of law that defendant was unable to perform the essential job functions of the feeder driver position; there was sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on his claim that he was qualified to perform the essential functions of the position; plaintiff presented evidence that UPS expected that feeder driver positions would become open in the near future; and thus defendant provided sufficient evidence to support his 2012 disability discrimination claim. In regard to the 2013 discrimination claim, plaintiff failed to offer sufficient evidence that he was qualified to perform the essential job functions of any available job; plaintiff failed to show that UPS failed to make a good faith effort to help him in seeking an accommodation; and thus summary judgment for UPS was appropriate as to this claim. Finally, the court concluded that defendant waived his 2013 accommodation claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Faidley v. United Parcel Service" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former transport deputy for the county, filed suit against Sheriff Andy Shock, in his individual and official capacities, for unlawful employment termination under state and federal law. Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging the deprivation of his First Amendment right to free association. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim against the sheriff in his official capacity because, under Arkansas law and the policies promoted by the county, the sheriff did not act as a final policymaker in the employment decisions of the sheriff's office where such decisions were subject to review by the quorum court. However, the court vacated the finding of qualified immunity for the sheriff in his individual capacity because the district court should have applied the Elrod-Branti analysis to determine whether a government employer could violate an employee's First Amendment rights even if acting under the mistaken belief that the employee was affiliated with a certain candidate. The court explained that the Elrod-Brandi test applied when a constitutional right at issue involved joining, working for or contributing to the political party and candidates of the employee's choice. Therefore, the court remanded that issue for the district court to apply the analysis in the Elrod-Branti line of cases. The court otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "Thompson v. Shock" on Justia Law

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Cargill petitioned for review of the Board's order concluding that the company engaged in unfair labor practices when it refused to bargain with the Union, in violation of sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5). The court concluded that the Union did not run afoul of 29 C.F.R. 102.65(e)(1), which prohibits a motion for reconsideration, rehearing, or reopening of the record on a matter that could have been raised in the earlier proceedings; the court rejected Cargill's argument that the Board erred in declining to dismiss the second petition; the Board reasonably determined that the packaging, shipping, and receiving employees were readily identifiable as a group and share a community of interest; the Board also reasonably determined that Cargill failed to show that the terminal, quality-control, and maintenance employees, all of whom were excluded from the bargaining unit, shared an "overwhelming community of interest" with the bargaining-unit employees such that their exclusion from the unit rendered it inappropriate; the Board's finding that, even accepting the testimony of Cargill's witnesses, the company had failed to establish that the complained-of conduct created the necessary atmosphere of fear and reprisal that rendered a free election impossible, was supported by substantial evidence; and because there was no employee conduct sufficiently objectionable to require action by the Board's agent, the Board did not err in concluding that Cargill failed to establish that the Board agent's conduct cast a reasonable doubt on the Board's neutrality or the integrity of the election. Accordingly, the court denied the petition and enforced the order. View "Cargill, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law