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

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Plaintiffs, two oilfield workers, filed suit against their employer for unpaid overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, based on the company's affirmative defense that plaintiffs fell under the administrative exemption of the FLSA. The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that genuine disputes of material fact affect whether the exemption applies to plaintiffs. In this case, the limited factual record could reasonably be interpreted to provide two different understandings of the scope of plaintiffs' discretionary authority and independent judgment. View "Dewan v. M-I, LLC" on Justia Law

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After a jury found that EmCare terminated three employees in retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment in the workplace, the district court denied EmCare's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the EEOC presented sufficient evidence of causation because the jury could have logically inferred that the supervisor knew of one of the employee's complaints or that the supervisor was involved in the decision to fire the employee. View "EEOC v. Emcare, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., against Defendants Galliano Marine Service and C-Innovation, seeking to recover unpaid wages for overtime worked during his employment at C-Innovation. Defendants run a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) business for offshore applications and employed plaintiff as an ROV Technician and ROV Supervisor. The district court granted summary judgment against plaintiff. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment because it has not been established as a matter of law that the seaman exemption applies. In this case, competing testimonial evidence regarding whether plaintiff was a master or subject to the authority, direction, and control of the master aboard a vessel precludes summary judgment. Furthermore, the district court must determine what proportion of plaintiff's time is spent on seaman's work. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Halle v. Galliano Marine Service, LLC" on Justia Law

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This consolidated case under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 883, and general maritime law, involved an accident on a barge in the navigable waterways of Louisiana. Defendant, the barge owner, appealed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs. The court held that evidence supported the district court's award to plaintiff McBride for pre-death fear and conscious pain and suffering, and the district court's award of damages for loss of past and future support was not clearly erroneous. The court also concluded that the district court's award of future cure until plaintiff Touchet reaches maximum medical improvement and for future medical expenses beyond Touchet's maximum medical improvement was not reversible error. Finally, the district court did not clearly err in finding that Touchet was permanently disabled and by awarding damages for lost earnings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "McBride v. Estis Well Service, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a GM employee, filed suit against GM for interference and retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.; for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.; and for violation of Texas law. The district court granted summary judgment for GM. The court concluded that the FMLA and accompanying regulations require employees to follow their employer's "usual and customary" procedures for requesting FMLA leave absent "unusual circumstances." In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that there were unusual circumstances arising from his condition that prevented him from complying with GM's call-in policy. Therefore, plaintiff failed to raise a fact issue for FMLA interference. The court also concluded that plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case of FMLA retaliation where he has not shown how his disciplinary leave was caused by his attempts to seek protection under the FMLA instead of his failure to follow GM's attendance and absence approval process; plaintiff failed to demonstrate that GM denied him a reasonable accommodation under the ADA; and plaintiff's Texas law claim also failed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Acker v. General Motors, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Mexican-American in his mid-40's, filed suit against the Postal Service under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the dismissal of his Title VII retaliation claim. Plaintiff claimed that the Postal Service suspended him for two days because he complained of workplace discrimination and harassment. In this case, because the order granting partial summary judgment was interlocutory, the district court should have analyzed the motion for reconsideration under Rule 54(b) instead of Rule 59(e), which applies to final judgments. The court concluded that the procedural error was harmless. The court also concluded that plaintiff failed to state a claim for retaliation because his two-day suspension did not constitute a materially adverse action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Cabral v. Brennan" on Justia Law

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Air Evac filed suit against state defendants, claiming that, as applied to air-ambulance entities, Texas' workers'-compensation system was federally preempted. Air Evac argued that, because the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 4173(b)(1), expressly preempted all state laws related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier, Texas may not use state laws to regulate air-ambulance services. The district court granted state defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1). The court concluded that Air Evac had Article III standing because it had a pecuniary injury that could be redressed with injunctive and declaratory relief; Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. conferred federal-question jurisdiction because Air Evac's complaint sought injunctive relief on the basis that the ADA preempted Texas law; the Ex parte Young exception applied to this case where, to the extent Ex parte Young required that the state actor "threaten" or "commence" proceedings to enforce the unconstitutional act, state defendants' pervasive enforcement satisfied that test; and the court declined to exercise abstention under Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. State of Texas, Department of Insurance" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, Dow, alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. The district court granted summary judgment for Dow. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that he was treated less favorably than others similarly situated outside of his protected class, and thus his Title VII discrimination claim failed as a matter of law. In regard to the retaliation claim, the court concluded that no reasonable fact finder could conclude that plaintiff would not have been fired but for his decision to engage in activity protected by Title VII. The court explained that poor performance was not an activity protected by Title VII and, even assuming that plaintiff completed the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), his negative, post-PIP evaluation independently justified plaintiff's termination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Alkhawaldeh v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Harris County, after Constable Alan Rosen terminated plaintiff's employment while he was on leave recovering from back surgery. Plaintiff alleged discrimination and retaliation claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the Texas Labor Code (TLC), as well as a First Amendment retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted summary judgment to the County. The court concluded that, because plaintiff failed to provide evidence showing any available reasonable accommodations that would have enabled him to perform the essential functions of his job, he cannot establish that he was qualified under the ADA at the time of his termination; because plaintiff failed to raise a material issue of fact on the question of whether he was qualified for his job under the ADA, he also failed to make out a prima facie retaliation claim under the ADA; the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's Title II claims where plaintiff presented no evidence that Harris County discriminated against him outside of the employer–employee context, or that Harris County was not a covered entity under the ADA; and, to the extent plaintiff was not speaking as an employee, he failed to provide evidence showing that he was terminated because of his protected speech under the First Amendment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Moss v. Harris County Constable Precinct One" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff filed an administrative complaint claiming disability discrimination by the Postal Service, the Postal Service and EEOC determined that her case was subsumed within a pending administrative class action. Plaintiff then filed suit against the Postmaster General. On remand, the magistrate judge subsequently determined that plaintiff's claim was properly subsumed within the class action and dismissed plaintiff's case for failure to exhaust. The court concluded that the district court properly determined that plaintiff's claims were subsumed within the McConnell v. Potter class action; the EEOC's notice of plaintiff's right to sue did not establish that she exhausted her administrative remedies with respect to the merits of her disability discrimination claims; the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the magistrate judge erred in dismissing her complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6); and, even if the magistrate judge had dismissed plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the dismissal would have been without prejudice and the court's review would remain unchanged. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ruiz v. Brennan" on Justia Law