Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Warren Unilube's motion for summary judgment in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging a race-based claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Under the McDonnell Douglass framework, the court held that plaintiff made a prima facie case of discrimination because he was a member of a protected group and was terminated. Furthermore, he was qualified for his position. However, the court held that the employer articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for plaintiff's discharge based on plaintiff's performance related deficiencies. Finally, the court held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that Warren's reasons for his termination were pretextual. View "Beasley v. Warren Unilube, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the City, the police chief, and the city administrator, alleging that plaintiff was terminated without due process and in retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment free speech rights. The district court denied defendants' motion for qualified immunity. The Eighth Circuit held that, even if plaintiff were terminated in retaliation for his speech, defendants did not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known. Furthermore, the disputed facts did not preclude summary judgment because the dispute did not affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. In this case, defendants could reasonably conclude that plaintiff was speaking solely as an aggrieved police officer and without constitutional protection. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to establish a deprivation of a liberty interest, because he did not show that he was stigmatized by the stated reasons for his discharge and that the statements were made public. Therefore, plaintiff failed to demonstrate a constitutional violation, and the police chief and administrator were entitled to summary judgment. Finally, because plaintiff failed to demonstrate a deprivation of a property or liberty interest, his claims against the City also failed. However, this ruling did not necessarily resolve the city's liability in the retaliation claim. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Mogard v. City of Milbank" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment in an action challenging the decision of the Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA) not to hire plaintiff. Under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, the court held that plaintiff failed to show that PBA's reasons for hiring other candidates were pretextual. In this case, no reasonable factfinder could conclude that the decision to hire other candidates was motivated by race, where such a conclusion would require speculation because plaintiff has not produced sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable inference of discrimination. View "Farver v. McCarthy" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the employer in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Iowa Civil Rights Act for retaliation, discrimination, and hostile work environment. The court held that summary judgment on the retaliation claim was proper under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. Even assuming plaintiff established a prima facie showing of retaliation, substantial evidence in the record supported the employer's proffered reason for its termination of plaintiff: she repeatedly micromanaged and interfered with other employees. Therefore, plaintiff failed to show that the employer's reason for her termination was pretextual. The court also held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment based on sex, because her actions demonstrated that she did not personally experience offensive or unwelcome harassment. Furthermore, plaintiff's claim for hostile work environment based on a protected activity failed, because she failed to show that she experienced harassment so severe or pervasive as to constitute a materially adverse action. Finally, plaintiff waived her discrimination claims. View "Mahler v. First Dakota Title Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Norac in an action brought by plaintiff, a Norac employee, alleging claims of employment discrimination following her termination. The court held that plaintiff failed to meet her burden of presenting evidence that created a fact question as to whether Norac's proffered reason for her termination was pretextual, and thus summary judgment was appropriate. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to strike an email and its admission did not prejudice plaintiff. View "Lacey v. Norac, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Nationwide in an action brought by plaintiff, an employee of Nationwide, alleging discrimination against her on the basis of her sex and her age. The court held that plaintiff failed to show Nationwide's legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for not selecting her for vacant positions and promotions were pretexts for age or gender bias. In this case, Nationwide's treatment of a younger male employee similarly to plaintiff was the clearest example of a record reflecting a displeased manager rather than discrimination based on age or gender. View "Heisler v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her employees, alleging that they unlawfully terminated her in retaliation for exercising her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Plaintiff's husband filed suit for loss of consortium. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in granting defendants summary judgment on the FMLA claim, because plaintiff's use of FMLA leave some half-year prior to her termination was insufficient to show her termination was an act of discrimination. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of defendants on the MHRA claim, because plaintiff could not have had a reasonable good faith belief that the conduct she opposed had constituted disability discrimination in violation of the MHRA. For purposes of the MHRA, accusing an employee of racism does not constitute racial discrimination. Furthermore, evidence of general temporary work restrictions, without more, was insufficient to constitute a disability. Finally, the loss of consortium claim was properly dismissed. View "Lovelace v. Washington University School of Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Union Pacific in an action brought by plaintiff against the employer, alleging disparate treatment and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff suffered from chronic back pain and wanted to take time off as necessary and to receive 24 hours of rest per shift (between shifts). The court held that plaintiff could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination, because job attendance is an essential function of a Union Pacific Locomotive Engineer and plaintiff could not perform this essential function with or without reasonable accommodation. View "Higgins v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Ford on plaintiff's claims of disability discrimination and retaliation under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Plaintiff, born without a left forearm and hand, applied for an entry-level assembler position at Ford's assembly plant. The court held that the district court did not err by using the broad-range-of-jobs standard because this case only involved the major life activity of working or employment; the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff had not satisfied the broad-range-of jobs standard because Ford considered him permanently restricted from a single, particular job he applied for; plaintiff waived his argument regarding direct evidence of discrimination; and therefore plaintiff's claim of discrimination under the MHRA failed, because plaintiff failed to show that Ford regarded him as having a disability. Finally, the court declined to consider the retaliation claim on appeal. View "Heuton v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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An arbitration agreement lacking a valid delegation clause leaves the remaining arbitration agreement, as a whole, open to review for validity. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of PrimeLending's motion to compel arbitration against plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), alleging that she was not paid for all earned wages and overtime pay. The court held that the parties never entered into a contract relating to the arbitration provision and the delegation provision. In this case, the arbitration provision was not a validly formed contract due to a lack of acceptance. Therefore, plaintiff did not contract with PrimeLending to arbitrate any disputes between them, nor was a contract formed to delegate this decision to an arbitrator. View "Shockley v. PrimeLending" on Justia Law