Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Griffin v. Sirva Inc.
The New York Court of Appeals answered a certified question from the Second Circuit, holding that liability under Section 296(15) the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) is limited to an aggrieved party's employer. The New York Court of Appeals answered a second certified question by identifying four factors to use in determining whether an entity is an aggrieved party's employer: the selection and engagement of the servant; the payment of salary or wages; the power of dismissal; and the power of control of the servant's conduct. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Sirva, Inc., as Allied's parent, can be held liable under the NYSHRL for employment discrimination on the basis of plaintiff's criminal convictions. Based on the answers to the certified questions, the Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Griffin v. Sirva Inc." on Justia Law
Fernandez v. Zoni Language Centers
Plaintiffs, employed as English teachers by defendants, filed suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging that defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and New York Labor Law. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to pay them both the statutory minimum wage for hours worked out of the classroom and statutory overtime when plaintiffs' classroom and out‐of‐classroom work exceeded 40 hours per week. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FLSA claims, holding that defendants were exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements applicable to teachers working as bona fide professions because defendants were "educational establishments" under 29 C.F.R. 541.204(b). View "Fernandez v. Zoni Language Centers" on Justia Law
NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC
Pier Sixty challenged the determination that it violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1) and (3), by discharging an employee in retaliation for protected activity. The court held that Pier Sixty has not shown the existence of an "extraordinary circumstance" that requires the court to waive the ordinary rule against considering arguments not presented to the Board as required by 29 U.S.C. 160(e). Therefore, the court did not reach the merits of the challenge to Acting General Counsel Solomon's appointment. The court also affirmed the Board's determination that Pier Sixty violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) by discharging Hernan Perez since Perez's conduct was not so "opprobrious" as to lose the protection of the NLRA. The court's decision rests heavily on the deference afforded to the Boards factual findings, made following a six‐day bench trial informed by the specific social and cultural context in this case. However, the court noted that Perez's conduct sits at the outer‐bounds of protected, union‐related comments. Accordingly, the court granted the Board's application for enforcement and denied Pier Sixty's cross-petition for review. View "NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC" on Justia Law
Zarda v. Altitude Express
Plaintiff, a skydiver, filed suit against his former employer, Altitude Express, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and New York law, alleging that he was terminated from his position as a skydiving instructor based on his sexual orientation. The district court found a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation in violation of New York law, but otherwise granted summary judgment for the employer. Specifically, the district court held that defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII claim because Second Circuit precedent holds that Title VII does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. A jury found for defendants on the state-law claims. The court declined plaintiff's request that it reconsider its interpretation of Title VII in order to hold that Title VII's prohibition on discrimination based on "sex" encompasses discrimination based on "sexual orientation" because a three-judge panel lacks the power to overturn Circuit precedent. See Simonton v. Runyon. The court also concluded that plaintiff's assertions that he is entitled to a new trial on his state-law, sexual-orientation discrimination claim have no merit. The court rejected plaintiff's claims of evidentiary errors and unfair discovery practices, and defense counsel did not improperly influence the jury by appealing to prejudice of homosexuals. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Zarda v. Altitude Express" on Justia Law
Saleem v. Corporate Transportation Group, Ltd.
Plaintiffs, black-car drivers in the greater New York City area, filed suit alleging that defendants, owners of black-car "base licenses" and affiliated entities, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the New York State Labor Law (NYLL), N.Y. Lab. Law 650 et seq. The district court conditionally certified the action and then granted summary judgment for defendants. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs constitute independent contractors for FLSA purposes as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiffs determined the manner and extent of their affiliation; whether to work exclusively for certain accounts or provide rides for rival accounts; the degree to which they would invest in their driving businesses; and when, where, and how regularly to provide rides for clients. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Saleem v. Corporate Transportation Group, Ltd." on Justia Law
Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants under the Americans with Disabilities Education Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.; and state and local law. Plaintiff alleged that he was discriminated against at his workplace due to, inter alia, his HIV‐positive status and his failure to conform to gender stereotypes. The district court dismissed the federal claims for failure to state a claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state and local claims. The district court concluded that Simonton v. Runyon and Dawson v. Bumble & Bumble, holding that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, precluded plaintiff's Title VII claim. The court concluded that it lacked power to reconsider Simonton and Dawson. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred by determining that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege a Title VII claim based on the gender stereotyping theory of sex discrimination articulated in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. In this case, plaintiff's complaint identified multiple instances of gender stereotyping discrimination. The court clarified that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals do not have less protection under Price Waterhouse against traditional gender stereotype discrimination than do heterosexual individuals. Simonton and Dawson merely held that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, standing alone, does not constitute nonconformity with a gender stereotype that can give rise to a cognizable gender stereotyping claim. Accordingly, the court reversed the dismissal of the Title VII claim and remanded. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Stevens v. Rite Aid Corp.
Plaintiff, who suffers from a fear of needles (trypanophobia), filed suit against Rite Aid, alleging violation of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., after he was terminated from his position as a pharmacist because he could not comply with the company's policy that required pharmacists to administer immunization injections to customers. On appeal, Rite Aid challenged the district court's award of substantial damages to plaintiff after a jury trial. Both parties appealed the district court's post-trial order that dismissed plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim, granted a new trial unless plaintiff agreed to a remittitur (later accepted), substantially granted plaintiff's claims for interest, and denied defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on plaintiff's wrongful discharge and retaliation claims. The court explained that because performing immunization injections was an essential job requirement and plaintiff presented no evidence of a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed him to perform immunizations at the time of his dismissal, no juror could reasonably conclude that plaintiff was "qualified to perform the essential functions of his job, with or without reasonable accommodation." Therefore, the court reversed the post-trial denial of the JMOL on plaintiff's federal and state wrongful termination and retaliation claims, affirmed the dismissal of the failure-to-accommodate claim; and remanded for entry of a revised judgment in favor of Rite Aid. View "Stevens v. Rite Aid Corp." on Justia Law
Coutard v. Municipal Credit Union
Plaintiff filed suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., against his employer, MCU, after he was denied leave to take care of his seriously ill grandfather who, in loco parentis, had raised him as a child. The district court granted MCU's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The district court reasoned that, although the FMLA provides that an eligible employee may be entitled to take leave in order to care for a person with whom he had an in loco parentis relationship as a child, plaintiff had informed MCU merely that he needed to take care of his grandfather without informing MCU of the in loco parentis relationship. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to MCU on the basis that plaintiff had failed to provide the necessary information, given MCU's denial of plaintiff's request without requesting additional information; vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings; rejected MCU's contention that the district court's dismissal of the complaint can be upheld on other grounds; and rejected plaintiff's request that the court order the grant of partial summary judgment on the issue of liability in his favor. View "Coutard v. Municipal Credit Union" on Justia Law
Jia Sheng v. MTBank Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against MTBank, alleging violations of various state and federal statues by not allowing her to work remotely when she became pregnant. The magistrate judge ruled as a matter of law against plaintiff on a number of claims and the jury found for MTBank on the remaining claims. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of the reinstatement offer because the offer was, as a matter of law, not unconditional; the district court erred in sua sponte disqualifying the attorneys for both parties, because the disqualification depended on the erroneous admission of evidence relating to the reinstatement offer; the jury instructions were not erroneous; and the court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's challenge to the district court's New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law 290 et seq., ruling. Accordingly, the court vacated in part in regard to the jury's verdict and the disqualification order, dismissed in part in regard to claims under the NYSHRL, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jia Sheng v. MTBank Corp." on Justia Law
Constellation Brands, U.S. Operations, Inc. v. NLRB
The Union filed a petition seeking to represent Constellation’s outside cellar employees as a bargaining unit. Constellation subsequently refused to bargain with the Union and the Union filed an unfair-labor-practice charge. The Board granted summary judgment for the Union, concluding that Constellation had violated labor laws. Constellation petitioned for review and the Board cross-petitioned for enforcement. At issue is whether the framework for evaluating proposed bargaining units set forth in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, is unlawful. The court held that the Specialty Healthcare framework was valid, as its sister circuits have, and was consistent with this court’s precedent. However, the court concluded that the Board did not properly apply the Specialty Healthcare framework in its decision and order against Constellation. In approving the petitioned‐for collective bargaining unit, the court concluded that the Board did not analyze at step one of the Specialty Healthcare framework whether the excluded employees had meaningfully distinct interests from members of the petitioned‐for unit in the context of collective bargaining that outweigh similarities with unit members. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, denied the cross-petition for enforcement, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Constellation Brands, U.S. Operations, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law