Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
by
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the EEOC, alleging that the agency had subjected her to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and had violated her rights under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.The DC Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's retaliatory hostile work environment claim under Title VII, as well as her interference and reasonable accommodation claims under the Rehabilitation Act. The court stated that an employer's deliberate attempts to affect an employee's finances and access to healthcare strike the court as precisely the type of conduct that might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the retaliatory hostile work environment claim under Title VII for events occurring in 2013 and remanded. The court also held that the district court erred by treating the Confirmation Form and Huffer Letter as definitive proof that the only accommodation plaintiff sought was an uncertain and indefinite amount of paid leave. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the reasonable accommodation claim and remanded. The court also reversed the dismissal of the interference claim and remanded for further consideration of plaintiff's interference allegations. Finally, the court held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's confidentiality and medical inquiries claims. View "Menoken v. Dhillon" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from a longstanding dispute about which of two competing unions represents a group of several dozen mechanics who maintain and repair shipping equipment. Under NLRB v. Burns International Security Services, Inc., 406 U.S. 272 (1972), a successor employer inherits the collective-bargaining obligations of its predecessor only if the previously recognized bargaining unit remains appropriate under the successor. In determining whether the unit remains appropriate, the NLRB ignores workplace changes caused by unfair labor practices of the successor.The DC Circuit held that the Board did not adequately explain its decision for extending the rule to ignore changes caused by unfair labor practices of the predecessor. Because the Board did not engage in reasoned decisionmaking in the order under review, the court granted the petition for review of the Board's final order, set aside that order, denied the Board's cross-application for enforcement, and remanded for further proceedings. The court dismissed as moot the petition for review of the Board's order refusing to set aside the partial settlement. View "International Longshore & Warehouse Union v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
Pacific is the multi-employer bargaining representative in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) for its employer members. One member, Long Beach, employs watchmen, represented by Local 26, and marine clerks, represented by another union, under separate agreements. Pleas, a watchman, had a work-related argument with a marine clerk, who filed a grievance against Pleas under the clerks' CBA. Local 26 wrote Pacific that it was not bound by that agreement and requested that Pacific not take action against Local 26 members based on the proceedings. Neither Pleas nor a Local 26 representative attended the arbitration hearing. The Arbitrator found that Pleas had violated the clerks' CBA and should be suspended from working at all Pacific employer member terminals for 28 days. Pacific notified its employer members of Pleas’ suspension. Local 26 filed unfair labor practice charges, alleging that those actions impermissibly modified the Watchmen’s Agreement and unilaterally imposed a new term and condition of employment without bargaining.The NLRB and D.C. Circuit found a violation of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5), 158(d). Under the Watchmen’s Agreement, there was no “sound arguable basis” for Pacific and Long Beach to apply the clerks' CBA procedures and enforce the Arbitrator’s order against Pleas, who was covered under the Watchmen’s Agreement. Doing so unlawfully unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of Pleas’ employment. View "Pacific Maritime Association v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
The union filed suit challenging the Authority's decision overturning an arbitrator's award in a dispute arising from a termination provision of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).The DC Circuit granted the petition for review as to the Authority's disposition of the breach claim and denied the petition as to the Authority's disposition of the unfair labor practice claim. The court explained that, in vacating the arbitrator's breach determination, the Authority's thorough, substantive review failed to conform to the proper standard of review. The court explained that the Authority's sole inquiry under the proper standard of review should have been whether the arbitrator was even arguably construing or applying the CBA. However, the Authority engaged in a much more searching review of the arbitrator's decision than permitted by law. The court also held that the Authority's explanation of the unfair labor practice issue, although terse, was not arbitrary and capricious. In this case, the Authority reasonably applied its precedent to determine that the employer did not repudiate the CBA even if it breached it. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "National Weather Service Employees Organization v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the District of Columbia, seeking compensation for the Executive Director of the Lottery Board's violation of plaintiff's Fifth Amendment rights. In this case, the Executive Director took a series of adverse personnel actions designed to push plaintiff out of his job without due process.The DC Circuit held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for the District and in denying summary judgment for plaintiff on the question of Monell liability. The court held, as a matter of law, that the Executive Director acted as a final policymaker on behalf of the District when he took the series of personnel actions that led to plaintiff's constructive termination without due process. Therefore, the court held that the District is liable for the Executive Director's wrongdoing. The court remanded for the district court to enter summary judgment against the District on the liability issue and to determine the appropriate amount of damages. View "Thompson v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

by
AdvancePierre petitioned for review of the Board's finding that it committed unfair labor practices (ULPs) over a five month span as the union conducted an organizing campaign. At issue is whether AdvancePierre unlawfully encouraged its employees to withdraw their union authorization cards, and the "read-aloud" remedy ordered by the Board.The DC Circuit denied AdvancePierre's petition for review, holding that Section 10(e) of the National Labor Relations Act limits the court's jurisdiction to matters first presented to the Board unless extraordinary circumstances excuse such failure. In this case, AdvancePierre's petition squarely collides with Section 10(e)'s jurisdictional barrier and the court is without authority to consider all but a small portion of the company's argument. Therefore, the court cannot consider AdvancePierre's argument regarding the company's unlawful solicitation of its employees to withdraw their union authorization cards because it was not preserved under Section 10(e). Furthermore, the court held that the Board's application of In re Mohawk Industries, 334 N.L.R.B. 1170 (2001), was not arbitrary or capricious and the Board's factual findings are supported by substantial evidence. In regard to the notice-reading remedy, the court held that the Board did not abuse its extremely broad discretion when it determined that the company's 17 ULPs were sufficiently serious and widespread to warrant a notice-reading. View "AdvancePierre Foods, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims of employment discrimination against Cushman & Wakefield's Chief Executive Officer of the Americas for lack of personal jurisdiction based on the fiduciary shield doctrine.The court held that the fiduciary shield doctrine lacks any basis in either the Due Process Clause or the transacting-business prong of the District of Columbia's long-arm statute, D.C.CODE 13-423(a)(1). The court also held that the district court's dismissal erroneously denied plaintiff's request in the alternative for limited jurisdictional discovery. Accordingly, on remand, the district court may either (i) determine on the current record that defendant's suit-related contacts (made in his capacity as CEO of the Americas and otherwise) satisfy the minimum-contacts standard, or (ii) grant jurisdictional discovery to permit development of the record on defendant's contacts with the District of Columbia. View "Urquhart-Bradley v. Mobley" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the Authority's order finding that the Union committed unfair labor practices by attempting to dismantle the pool of arbitrators selected by a predecessor union and thereby impeding access to the grievance process.The court held that the Authority's conclusion that the Union committed unfair labor practices was not arbitrary and capricious. Rather, the Authority followed its own precedent when it determined that the Union's outreach to the two arbitrators amounted to unfair labor practices. The court also held that the Authority did not act contrary to law when it determined that the Union acted outside of the statutory protection for the expression of personal views; the Union has not demonstrated that its First Amendment rights were violated, seeing as it failed to identify a public concern implicated by its speech; the Authority's nontraditional remedy did not exceed its statutory authority because it was an appropriate exercise of its power to carry out the purposes of the Civil Service Reform Act by restoring the status quo ante; and the Union's application for leave to adduce additional evidence is denied because the Union has not established that the evidence is material or that there were reasonable grounds for the Union's failure to adduce it earlier. View "Independent Union of Pension Employees for Democracy and Justice v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit granted a petition for review of the NLRB's determination that Circus committed three unfair labor practices related to a temporary employee. The court held that the Board engaged in unreasoned decisionmaking by finding unfair labor practices without substantial evidence on the record as a whole and by departing from announced standards in an arbitrary and capricious manner.   The court held that NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), requires an employee to affirmatively request union representation in a manner reasonably calculated to put the employer on notice. In this case, the employee's statement of fact standing alone was insufficient to trigger the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. The court also held that the Board misapplied the Wright Line mixed-motive test by failing to consider the employer's rebuttal case. Consequently, this error is fatal to the Board's finding that Circus violated section Section 8(a)(1) by suspending and terminating the employee because of a protected activity. Finally, the court held that the ALJ witness credibility determinations supporting the conclusion that the employee was threatened is patently insupportable. In regard to the unlawful termination finding, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Circus Circus Casinos, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
After the CBP distributed a memorandum to its agents changing vehicle inspection procedures at the El Paso border checkpoint, the Union filed a grievance on behalf of CBP agents claiming that the CBP failed to notify and negotiate with it before issuing the Memo. The arbitrator found in favor of the Union and then the Authority set aside the arbitrator's award.The DC Circuit granted the Union's petition for review, holding that the Memo was arbitrary and capricious. In this case, the Authority failed to reasonably explain its departure from precedent and its conclusion that the Memo was not subject to bargaining under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Accordingly, the court remanded to the Authority for further proceedings. View "American Federation of Government Employees v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law