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

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The First Circuit declined enforcement of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) order requiring 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (the Union) and Good Samaritan Medical Center to reinstate Camille Legley with back pay and rescind a workplace civility policy, holding that there was not substantial evidence on the record as a whole that Legley was discharged because of his protected conduct. Legley, a probationary employee hired by Good Samaritan, questioned a union delegate’s alleged remark during an orientation training that he had to join the Union in order to work at Good Samaritan. Good Samaritan terminated Legley’s employment the following day, claiming that Legley’s conduct had violated its civility policy. The NLRB found that the Union caused Good Samaritan to discharge Legally because of his protected conduct. In denying enforcement of the NLRB’s order the First Circuit held that the NLRB’s decision ignored a portion of the record and could not survive review under the substantial evidence standard. View "Good Samaritan Medical Center v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s rejection of Appellant’s claims that she, among other things, suffered discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its Massachusetts state-law corollary when Defendants failed to accommodate her request for transfer to another position in the Plymouth Police Department after she suffered an on-the-job injury. The district court concluded that Appellant failed to raise a genuine issues of material fact regarding her discrimination claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly entered summary judgment on Appellant’s handicap discrimination claims and gender discrimination claim; and (2) even if the court were able to glean an ADA retaliation claim from Appellant’s complaint, Appellant waived it during summary judgment proceedings. View "Audette v. Town of Plymouth, Mass." on Justia Law

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A plaintiff may not bring claims for damages under 42 U.S.C. 1981 against state actors, including defendants sued in their official capacities as government officials. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff's section 1981 claims against employees of the City of Boston. Plaintiff, who represented the estate of her late father, challenged her father’s termination from his employment with the Department of Public Works. The district court dismissed the section 1981 claims, concluding that section 1981 provides no implied private right of action for damages against state actors. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Jett v. Dallas Independent School District compelled the result reached by the district court. View "Buntin v. City of Boston" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit answered two questions of first impression regarding the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) by holding (1) in a case where a federal district court is confronted with a motion to compel arbitration under the FAA and the parties have delegated questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator, the applicability of the FAA is a threshold question for the court to determine before compelling arbitration under the FAA; and (2) a provision of the FAA that exempts contracts of employment of transportation workers from the FAA’s coverage applies to a transportation-worker agreement that purports to establish an independent-contractor relationship. Accordingly, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration and dismissed this appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Oliveira v. New Prime, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer, AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical LP, on Plaintiff’s claims that AstraZeneca violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and several provisions of Puerto Rico law. Plaintiff attempted to persuade the First Circuit that there existed several material factual disputes in this case. The First Circuit affirmed the summary judgment, holding (1) AstraZeneca was entitled to summary judgment on both Plaintiff’s ADA disability discrimination claim and her ADA retaliation claim; and (2) Plaintiff failed to shoulder her burden to proceed to trial on her claims sounding in Puerto Rico law. View "Delgado-Echevarria v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical LP" on Justia Law

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Pan Am Railways, Inc. brought charges of dishonesty and insubordination and threats of dismissal against Jason Raye, an injured employee who had filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). Raye then filed an amended complaint to OSHA accusing Pan Am of violating the FRSA for filing his original OSHA complaint. OSHA concluded that Pan Am had unlawfully retaliated against Raye for bringing charges after Raye had filed his original OSHA complaint. An administrative law judge (ALJ) rejected Pan Am’s affirmative defense and awarded $250,000 in punitive damages, the maximum amount that the FRSA allows. The Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board affirmed. The First Circuit denied Pan Am’s petition for review, holding (1) the ALJ did not err in rejecting Pan Am’s affirmative defense that it would have charged Raye with dishonesty even absent his protected activity; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the ALJ’s punitive damages award. View "Pan Am Railways, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, her former employer and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, alleging that Defendants violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), discriminated against her on the basis of a covered impairment, illegally required her to participate in prohibited political activity, and wrongfully terminated her with actual malice. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff appealed the portion of the district court’s order dismissing certain FMLA claims against her former employer under Rule 12(b)(6). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts pleaded in Plaintiff’s complaint did not plausibly allege that her supervisor fired her because she sought leave protected by the FMLA. View "Germanowski v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Appellant was employed by Appellees as a social worker when she suffered a work-related injury. Appellant sued Appellees, alleging that they failed to accommodate her disability in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellees, concluding that Appellant did not qualify as a disabled individual under the ADA and that she was one responsible for the breakdown in communications concerning her accommodations. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly found that Appellees could not be held liable for their failure to accommodate because Appellant was responsible for the breakdown in communications. View "Ortiz-Martinez v. Fresenius Health Partners PR, LLC" on Justia Law

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Pumpernickel Express, Inc. carried automotive parts from warehouses in Mansfield, Massachusetts to Toyota dealerships in the region. Pumpernickel’s drivers were represented by a Union. Lily Transportation Corporation later obtained the portion of Pumpernickel’s business that involved distributing parts for Toyota. Lily hired many of Pumpernickel’s former employees, including drivers. The Union demanded that Lily recognize it as the drivers’ bargaining representative. Lily refused. Thereafter, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge, alleging that Lily’s refusal to bargain violated the National Labor Relations Act. The administrative law judge found that, in distributing for Toyota, Lily was a “successor employer” to Pumpernickel, and therefore, Lily was required to recognize and bargain with the Union. The National Labor Relations Board affirmed and ordered Lily to recognize and bargain with the Union. The Board then asked the First Circuit to enforce its order over Lily’s objection. The First Circuit granted the Board’s application for enforcement of its bargaining order, holding that the Board did not err in relying on UGL-UNICCO Service Co.’s successor bar doctrine. View "NLRB v. Lily Transportation Corp" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were a group of current and former federal employees working in non-foreign areas located outside the contiguous United States. In addition to their normal salaries, federal employees working in these areas receive cost-of-living allowances (COLAs). Plaintiff filed a complaint challenging the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) regulations that exclude COLAs from the calculation of retirement and other benefits, alleging that these regulations are discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and are arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The district court dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly concluded (1) that Plaintiffs’ disparate impact claim was barred by the location-based safe harbor provision of 24 U.S.C. 2000e-2(h); (2) that Plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies as to their disparate treatment claim; and (3) that Plaintiffs’ non-discrimination claims were precluded by the Civil Service Reform Act. View "Rodriguez v. United States" on Justia Law