Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed DNRB's conviction of a Class B misdemeanor for willfully violating two safety regulations and causing an employee's death. The court held that, because the employee was not connected to an anchorage point before he fell, there was sufficient evidence that DNRB violated 29 C.F.R. 1926.760(a)(l) and (b)(1); sufficient evidence supported the district court's finding of willful violation by the company; and the factual findings were sufficient to support a conclusion that DNRB's failure to comply with the safety standards caused the employee's death. The court rejected DNRB's challenges to other-acts evidence and FRE 404(b) evidence; the district court considered and applied the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors before imposing a $500,000 fine; and the district court could impose the maximum fine allowed by law even though it recognized the likelihood DNRB, which had ceased operations, might not be able to pay. View "United States v. DNRB, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court granted Federated's motion for summary judgment after determining that plaintiff's disclosures did not qualify as protected reports under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA). The Minnesota Supreme Court recently issued Friedlander v. Edwards Lifescis., LLC, 900 N.W.2d 162, 166 (Minn. 2017), which explained that the 2013 amendment to the Minnesota Whistleblower Act eliminated the judicially created requirement that a putative whistleblower act with the purpose of exposing an illegality. In light of Friedlander, the Eighth Circuit vacated and remanded for reconsideration of summary judgment. View "Scarborough v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the DOL's investigation of possible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act by La Piedad. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the DOL's motion to hold La Piedad in civil contempt for failing to produce documents identifying other businesses owned by La Piedad's shareholders. The court held that the DOL failed to meet its burden to introduce evidence that would support a subpoena to produce documents not in La Piedad's possession, custody, or control. View "Hugler v. La Piedad Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DFJ on his age discrimination and retaliation claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); (2) disability discrimination and retaliation claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and (3) state-law claim for age and disability discrimination and retaliation brought under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 (ACRA). The court held that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to his federal claims where his termination played no part in the initial EEOC charge because the right-to-sue letter preceded the date of the termination; plaintiff's ACRA claim failed because no genuine issues of material fact exist on whether plaintiff was qualified to do the essential job functions of his position and whether the termination was due to his disability. The court also held that plaintiff's hostile work environment claim failed because the alleged harassment was not severe enough to support his claim, and plaintiff's ADA claims also failed because he was unable to perform the essential functions of his job, with or without accommodation, and he failed to show but-for causation as to retaliation. View "Moses v. Dassault Falcon Jet Corp." on Justia Law

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Brazil spent over three decades working for the Arkansas Department of Human Services. A 2010 disagreement with her supervisor eventually led her to seek a transfer to another division. When she did not receive a transfer, she sued the Department and several officials for alleged civil rights violations. None of her claims survived summary judgment. Brazil’s work environment did not improve. Brazil believes that she received lower performance evaluations in retaliation for the lawsuit. Brazil’s supervisors reassigned her from performing traditional administrative-assistant tasks to working in a document-scanning room, which required heavy lifting, long periods of sitting, and repetitious activities. Though her official title remained the same, Brazil regarded the assignment as a demotion because it required manual labor and diminished her opportunities for promotion. Brazil filed suit alleging retaliation and racial discrimination. A year into the litigation, Brazil changed positions. In her current job, Brazil reports to different supervisors and performs only administrative-assistant duties. The district court dismissed all of Brazil’s claims, except those against her former supervisors, which it rejected on summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit concluded that her claims were moot, vacated, and instructed the district court to dismiss the claims. View "Brazil v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Walmart in an action alleging employment discrimination. The court held that plaintiff failed to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violation. The court also held that plaintiff's failure to file his EEOC claim within 180 days was not the result of any misconduct by Walmart. In this case, failing to respond to a settlement demand made ten days before the statutory deadline, and accompanied by a statement that the employee would file a charge with the EEOC if the matter could not be settled, was not conduct that the employer should unmistakably have understood would cause the employee to miss the filing deadline. View "Rodriguez v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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Howard, the circuit court clerk, hired Mahn as a deputy clerk. In 2014, Howard did not run for reelection. He supported fellow Democrat McKee. According to Mahn, Howard “summoned [her]” to “forcefully impress upon [her] the need for her to vote for McKee and the Democratic ticket.” She responded, “what you’re threatening is unconstitutional.” Mahn voted in the Republican primary election. She alleges that three weeks later, Howard told her: “ I know how you voted ... this could cause you your job.” Weeks later, Howard terminated Mahn’s employment, citing: “Poor work performance, unable to complete tasks correctly and within given time lines. Abuse of sick leave, insubordination by lying to assigned supervisor.” Mahn alleges that Wesley—Howard’s son, the county clerk—had “access to all voter information.” Mahn brought a First Amendment patronage-discharge claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Jefferson County, Missouri; Howard and Wesley, individually and in their official capacities; and Reuter, in his official capacity as (successor) circuit clerk. The district court rejected the claims on summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed with respect to Wesley and the county. Besides her speculation that Wesley told Howard how she voted, Mahn has not presented any evidence that he improperly influenced her termination. The court remanded in part. Howard and Reuter have not established Howard would have terminated Mahn anyway for her performance issues. View "Mahn v. Jefferson County" on Justia Law

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Howard, the circuit court clerk, hired Mahn as a deputy clerk. In 2014, Howard did not run for reelection. He supported fellow Democrat McKee. According to Mahn, Howard “summoned [her]” to “forcefully impress upon [her] the need for her to vote for McKee and the Democratic ticket.” She responded, “what you’re threatening is unconstitutional.” Mahn voted in the Republican primary election. She alleges that three weeks later, Howard told her: “ I know how you voted ... this could cause you your job.” Weeks later, Howard terminated Mahn’s employment, citing: “Poor work performance, unable to complete tasks correctly and within given time lines. Abuse of sick leave, insubordination by lying to assigned supervisor.” Mahn alleges that Wesley—Howard’s son, the county clerk—had “access to all voter information.” Mahn brought a First Amendment patronage-discharge claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Jefferson County, Missouri; Howard and Wesley, individually and in their official capacities; and Reuter, in his official capacity as (successor) circuit clerk. The district court rejected the claims on summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed with respect to Wesley and the county. Besides her speculation that Wesley told Howard how she voted, Mahn has not presented any evidence that he improperly influenced her termination. The court remanded in part. Howard and Reuter have not established Howard would have terminated Mahn anyway for her performance issues. View "Mahn v. Jefferson County" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CyberPower in an action alleging breach of contract, fraud, and unpaid wages. Plaintiff alleged that CyberPower breached a Compensation Agreement that secured his employment until the company reached a specific monetary sales threshold. The court held that there was no ambiguity on the question of whether CyberPower clearly intended to modify plaintiff's at-will status with the Compensation Agreement where the text of the agreement indicated that it governed only compensation. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining arguments. View "Ayala v. CyberPower Systems (USA), Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was improperly rejected for the position of Criminal Investigator with the USPS in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq., and that he should have been given preference for the position due to his status as a veteran. The district court granted the Postmaster General’s motion to dismiss the action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Eighth Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing the ADEA claim because plaintiff alleged a prima facie case of discrimination where he demonstrated that he had the educational and professional experience required for the position. Accordingly, the court reversed as to the ADEA claim and remanded for further proceedings. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "McPherson v. Brennan" on Justia Law