Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
McCormick, Jr. v. D.C., et al.
After plaintiff was discharged by the Department of Corrections, he filed suit against the District and two officials, alleging violations of his rights under the District's whistleblower statute, D.C. Code 1-615.53, and of his liberty interests under the Fifth Amendment. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the claims under the whistleblower act where plaintiff was terminated for the misconduct that occurred in March 2005, not January 2006, where he struck a handcuffed inmate. The court also affirmed summary judgment on the Fifth Amendment claim where any deprivation of liberty by stigmatizing was not without due process. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "McCormick, Jr. v. D.C., et al." on Justia Law
Broadcasting Board of Governors of Cuba v. FLRA
Petitioners, Broadcasting Board of Governors, sought review of the Board's decision to uphold an arbitrator's finding that the petitioner violated both a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and federal labor laws when it laid off sixteen employees. The court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Congress has barred the courts from hearing challenges to FLRA orders that involve an award by an arbitrator, unless the order involves an unfair labor practice, and there was no unfair labor practice in this case. View "Broadcasting Board of Governors of Cuba v. FLRA" on Justia Law
Foote v. Moniz
Plaintiff filed suit against the Department under Title VII after the Department refused to certify him under the Human Reliability Program. Plaintiff claimed that, in denying him certification, the Department relied on the psychological evaluation of a Department psychologist who allegedly recommended against certification because of plaintiff's race. The court concluded that the Department's decision to certify an applicant under the Human Reliability Program was the kind of judgment covered under Department of the Navy v. Egan. The court also concluded that the individual who performed the psychological evaluation of plaintiff was in the category of officials within the Department authorized and trained to make a judgment about plaintiff's suitability for certification. Therefore, the Department's decision not to certify plaintiff was unreviewable and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Foote v. Moniz" on Justia Law
Brooks v. Grundmann
Plaintiff, a Board employee, filed suit claiming that her supervisors engendered a hostile work environment, discriminating against her on the basis of her race and sex. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Board, concluding that, while the supervisors' actions may have been unprofessional, uncivil, and somewhat boorish, they did not constitute an adequate factual basis for the Title VII claims presented here. View "Brooks v. Grundmann" on Justia Law
Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis
In February 2010, a SeaWorld trainer was killed by Tilikum, a killer whale, during a performance before a live audience in a pool at Shamu Stadium in Orlando. OSHA found that SeaWorld violated the general duty clause, section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 654(a)(1), by exposing SeaWorld's trainers to recognized hazards when working in close contact with killer whales during performances and that the abatement procedures recommended by the Secretary of Labor were feasible. On appeal, SeaWorld challenged the second element (either the employer or the industry recognized the condition or activity as a hazard) and fourth element (a feasible means to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard existed) of the general duty citation. The court concluded that the evidence supported the ALJ's finding that a recognized hazard existed, even beyond the impact of SeaWorld's safety protocols; there was substantial evidence that SeaWorld recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable; the potential harm to SeaWorld's trainers existed in their workplace and involved conditions over which SeaWorld had control; SeaWorld's challenge to the ALJ's decision to credit the testimony of the Secretary's expert with regard to the aggressive behavior of killer whales failed; substantial evidence supported the ALJ's findings that it was feasible for SeaWorld to abate the hazard to its employees by using barriers or minimum distance between trainers and killer whales, most notably because SeaWorld has implemented many of these measures on its own; and the court rejected SeaWorld's contention that the general duty clause was unconstitutionally vague as applied. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis" on Justia Law
Int’l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc.
The Union filed suit against WUSA-TV, a television station, alleging that the station breached its contractual obligations by laying off a technician. Because the grievance did not "arise under" the 2008 bargaining agreement, and the 2012 agreement was not yet in effect, the district court concluded that the station was not obligated to arbitrate. The court affirmed, concluding that seniority provisions in the 2008 agreement did not create vested or accrued rights and therefore, the grievance was not arbitrable under the 2008 agreement. Nor do the qualified seniority protections against layoffs contained in the 2008 agreement survive expiration under normal principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, the union's extrinsic evidence was itself ambiguous. Finally, the court rejected the Union's claim that the grievance was arbitrable under the 2012 agreement. View "Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc." on Justia Law
Remington Lodging & Hospitality v. NLRB
The Board moved to transfer this petition for review of one of its orders to the Ninth Circuit where another petition for review of the same order has been filed. Although the Board conceded that it received the court-and-date-stamped copy of Remington's petition within 28 U.S.C. 2112(a)(1)'s ten-day time limit, it argued that it did not receive the copy from the persons instituting the proceedings. Because every petitioner seeking review of a Board order must comply with section 10(f) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 160(f), section 2112(a) could serve its separate notice function only if petitioners wishing to take advantage of that section's forum selection procedure comply with it separately. Requiring petitioners to comply personally with section 2112(a) alerted the agency that the petitioner cared about its chosen forum and, as the Board explained, imposed the burden of compliance on the party seeking to benefit from section 2112(a). Therefore, the court must transfer the petition to the Ninth Circuit. The court granted the motion to transfer. View "Remington Lodging & Hospitality v. NLRB" on Justia Law
National Treasury Employees Union v. FLRA
The Union petitioned for review of the FLRA's decision that the IRS did not commit an unfair labor practice under 5 U.S.C. 7116 when it failed to provide the Union notice or an opportunity to bargain over an increase in the workloads of IRS Case Advocates. Determining that it had jurisdiction to consider the Union's petition, the court concluded that FLRA precedent established that this bargaining obligation arises only when an agency initiates a change in its policies, practices, or procedures, and FLRA reasonably relied on that precedent. FLRA's determination that the Arbitrator erred in finding an unfair labor practice was adequately explained and was neither arbitrary nor capricious. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "National Treasury Employees Union v. FLRA" on Justia Law
Kaufman v. Perez
Petitioner, an employee for the EPA, appealed the denial of his claims against the EPA for allegedly retaliating against him in violation of several environmental whistleblowing provisions. There was no adverse action evidenced in Claims 2-8 that the EPA unequivocally barred petitioner from performing Ombudsman duties on December 14, 2000 and that neither petitioner nor Ombudsman Martin were confused about the effect of that action. The ALJ dismissed the claims and the Board affirmed. The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the decision to dismiss the claims. View "Kaufman v. Perez" on Justia Law
Koch v. Schapiro, et al.
Appellant, employed with the SEC, filed a request under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 791 et seq., for a work schedule accommodation so that he could undergo rehabilitation without using his work leave. When the Commission did not act on his request for more than a year, appellant began the administrative appeals process. Subsequently, the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (the Office) assigned an investigator to appellant's case. The investigator worked for a private firm, not the Office. Appellant was uneasy about a private firm having his medical records and eventually stopped participating in the investigation. The Office dismissed appellant's complaint for failure to cooperate. After unsuccessfully appealing his dismissal to the EEOC, appellant filed suit against the SEC in the district court. The district court granted summary judgment to the Commission, holding, among other things, that appellant's refusal to participate in his administrative proceedings constituted a failure to exhaust his administrative remedies and that there was no reason to excuse such failure. The court concluded that, under Rann v. Chao, appellant provided insufficient information to the agency and thus failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The district court was well within its discretion to dismiss the claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Koch v. Schapiro, et al." on Justia Law