Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Otis Elevator petitioned for review of the Commission's upholding of an OSHA citation for violating safety standards involved in the control of hazardous energy. A service mechanic employed by Otis Elevator injured his hand while unjamming the gate of a freight elevator and the accident spurred the OSHA investigation. The court concluded that the Commission's determinations that the safety standards applied to the mechanic's work and were violated were neither arbitrary nor capricious, and were supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Otis Elevator Co. v. Secretary of Labor, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Department of Agriculture, after it denied her request for a flexible work schedule based on her depression. Plaintiff sought substantial flexibility in her working hours ("maxiflex" schedule) under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., as an accommodation for her disability. The district court granted summary judgment to the Department, concluding that the maxiflex work schedule is an unreasonable request. The court also rejected defendant's retaliation claims. The court concluded, however, that nothing in the Rehabilitation Act establishes, as a matter of law, that a maxiflex work schedule is unreasonable. Accordingly, the court reversed the entry of summary judgment on the accommodation claim; reversed the entry of summary judgment on plaintiff's claim that revoking her permission to work late was in retaliation for requesting accommodations; and remanded those claims for further proceedings. The court affirmed the remainder of the district court's decision. View "Solomon v. Vilsack" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, employed as an attorney advisor for the BVA, filed suit against the Secretary of the VA, claiming that the BVA had violated her rights under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., by failing to accommodate her disability. Plaintiff also claimed that she was constructively discharged because the failure to accommodate her disability left her no choice but to resign. In regards to the failure to accommodate claim, no reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's accommodation request was denied in light of the BVA's continuing good-faith dialogue with plaintiff to determine an appropriate accommodation, which dialogue was cut short by plaintiff's sudden resignation. Consequently, plaintiff's constructive discharge claim also failed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Secretary on both claims. View "Ward v. McDonald" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's order of summary judgment rejecting her claim of workplace racial discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to identify evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that her non-promotion was racially discriminatory. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Mulrain v. Castro" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that he was terminated from his position as a special education teacher because of an email he sent to the chancellor, which contained one sentence that constituted speech protected by the First Amendment. The court concluded that plaintiff was using the email as an internal channel through which he could, in his capacity as a teacher, report interference with his job responsibilities. Therefore, under Winder v. Erste, plaintiff's email constituted employee speech unprotected by the First Amendment. Further, it was not unreasonable for defendants to believe that it was not unlawful to fire plaintiff based on preexisting law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's First Amendment claim. View "Mpoy v. Rhee, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged the FAA's revocation of his Designated Pilot Examiner appointment based on deficiencies in his performance. Petitioner argued that the FAA failed to follow its own procedures and that one of his FAA evaluators labored under a conflict of interest. The court concluded that plaintiff's termination letter substantially complied with an FAA order and, moreover, plaintiff failed to demonstrate prejudice from the alleged deficiencies in the specificity of his termination letter. Further, plaintiff failed to show that any improper conflict of interest affected the decision to terminate his appointment. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sheble, III v. Huerta, et al." on Justia Law

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The Union petitioned for review of the FLRA's decision finding, inter alia, that the IRS did not commit an unfair labor practice when Union representatives were excluded from "suitability" interviews of "covered" IRS personnel conducted by OPM investigators. Determining that it had jurisdiction to decide the Union's petition for review, the court concluded that the Authority reasonably construed the "representative of the agency" language in 5 U.S.C. 7114(a)(2)(B) to support a function and control analysis in determining its applicability vel non, and that the Authority's application of its interpretation to OPM-conducted suitability interviews of covered IRS personnel was not "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law." Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Natl' Treasury Employees Union v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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In August 2011, the Department updated the special procedures that establish the minimum wages and working conditions employers must offer U.S. sheepherders, goatherders, and open-range (cattle) herders before hiring foreign herders. Plaintiffs, U.S. workers experienced in herding claimed that the Department administers the temporary worker visa program in a way that gives herding operations access to inexpensive foreign labor without protecting U.S. workers. The court concluded that the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs lacked both Article III and prudential standing to bring this action where plaintiffs were injured by the Department's promulgation of the Training and Employment Guidance Letters (TEGLs) and fell within the zone of interests protected by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. 1188(a)(1). On the merits, the court concluded that plaintiffs were entitled to entry of summary judgment in their favor where the Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553, by promulgating TEGLs without providing public notice and an opportunity for comment. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Mendoza, et al. v. Harris, et al." on Justia Law

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DHS filed a petition for review challenging a decision by the FLRA in a dispute arising with the FLRA on a negotiability appeal filed by the Union under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS), 5 U.S.C. 7105(a)(2)(E). The Union and CBP - an agency within DHS - had negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that included the negotiability provision at issue (Section 2). The court granted DHS's petition for review, concluding, inter alia, that the proposal in Section 2 advanced by the Union here would compromise the independence of the OIG and would be "inconsistent" with the Inspector General Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. App. 3 sections 1-13, within the meaning of section 7117(a)(1) of the FSLMRS. View "US DHS Customs and Border v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that the termination of his employment violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. Plaintiff introduced evidence of two statements made by the person who effected his termination, both of which were indicative of a discriminatory motive. The court reversed and remanded because those statements, if proven to have been made, would permit a reasonable factfinder to conclude that age-based discrimination led to plaintiff's termination. View "Wilson v. Cox, et al." on Justia Law