Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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Plaintiff filed suit against the county and others, alleging that they violated her First Amendment rights by retaliating against her for engaging in protected speech regarding medical clearance decisions for firefighter applicants. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and denial of reconsideration, holding that plaintiff spoke as an employee and not as a private citizen. In this case, plaintiff worked under contract with the county and, for fifteen years, was the primary person responsible for determining whether firefighter applicants were medically qualified. View "King v. Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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A county school board may require all applicants for substitute teacher positions to submit to and pass a drug test as a condition of employment. The Eleventh Circuit held that the school board may, without any suspicion of wrongdoing, collect and search -- by testing -- the urine of all prospective substitute teachers. Because the school board has a sufficiently compelling interest in screening its prospective teachers to justify this invasion of the privacy rights of job applicants, the court held that the school board did not violate the constitutional mandate barring unreasonable searches and seizures. The court recognized that ensuring the safety of millions of schoolchildren in the mandatory supervision and care of the state, and ensuring and impressing a drug-free environment in our classrooms, were compelling concerns. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction because plaintiff failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits. View "Friedenberg v. School Board of Palm Beach County" on Justia Law

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The Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) does not impose a tax on a railroad's stock transfers to its employees nor a railroad's provision of relocation benefits to its employees. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further consideration of the statutory requirements and the calculation of CSX's taxable compensation. The court held that the Supreme Court's decision in Wisconsin Cent. Ltd. v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2067 (2018), was dispositive of the stock issue. Under Wisconsin Central, the phrase "money remuneration" in the RRTA refers only to currency or a medium of exchange. Wisconsin Central, as well as the court's plain meaning of the statute, guided the court's decision regarding the relocation benefits. View "CSX Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action filed by plaintiff pro se, alleging claims for wage and sex discrimination based on the Equal Protection Clause and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and retaliation based on her gender in violation of the EPA, as incorporated into the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to point to any evidence in the record that tended to demonstrate that the interim county manager's stated reasons for denying her higher salary request were false and a pretext for racial or gender discrimination; plaintiff failed to point to any affirmative evidence establishing that his proffered reasons were false or a pretext for unlawful sex discrimination; and plaintiff failed to establish a pretext for retaliation. In this case, the direct supervisor's reason for terminating plaintiff was because she was no longer a "good fit" and lacked the leadership skills necessary to implement successfully many of the proposed changes in the Clerk's office of the Fulton County Juvenile Court. View "Hornsby-Culpepper v. Ware" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Southern Home under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981, asserting claims for discriminatory termination, hostile work environment, and retaliation. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's discriminatory termination and retaliation claims failed as a matter of law because she provided insufficient evidence of pretext in response to Southern Home's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating her. The court held, however, that plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that the harassment plaintiff suffered was severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of her employment. The court also held that plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that Southern Home had actual notice of the hostile work environment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Smelter v. Southern Home Care Services Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Kia for gender and national origin discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as race and alienage discrimination and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. 1981. The district court granted summary judgment for Kia. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the retaliation claims under Title VII and section 1981. The court held that, viewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the manner of her opposition to discrimination was reasonable. In this case, were it not for plaintiff's position as a human resource manager, her action of providing the name of an attorney in connection with her EEOC charge would be protected opposition conduct, because it assisted the employee with filing her own charge. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's claim of sex and national origin discrimination under Title VII and section 1981. View "Gogel v. Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's award of sanctions against plaintiff and his attorneys in an action against Pro Transport and its owners, seeking to recover unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court held that Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., 871 F.3d 1174 (11th Cir. 2017) (en banc), made clear that plaintiff and his attorneys did not act in bad faith or took legal action that had no reasonable chance of success in litigating the FLSA claim. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion by imposing sanctions. View "Antonio Silva v. Pro Transport, Inc." on Justia Law

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Acosta challenged the district court's entry of a default judgment against them after they failed to pay their required arbitration fees in a dispute with a former employee who sought unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that it found no basis in the Federal Arbitration Act, caselaw, or anywhere else to support a court's decision to enter a default judgment solely because a party defaulted in the underlying arbitration. Because the court concluded that the district court erred in entering a default judgment against Acosta based solely on Acosta's default in the underlying arbitration, the court did not reach the remaining arguments. View "Hernandez Hernandez v. Acosta Tractors Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit withdrew its previous opinion and issued this opinion in its place. Plaintiffs, who are valets, filed a putative class action against FCPS, alleging claims under the minimum-wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court held that the district court correctly ruled that the vehicles parked by plaintiffs while working as valets for FCPS were not "materials" under the FLSA. Nonetheless, FCPS was not entitled to summary judgment on the issue of "enterprise" coverage. The court held that, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, a jury could find that the valet tickets used by plaintiffs in their work for FCPS constituted "materials" under the FLSA's "handling clause," and thus provided "enterprise" coverage. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Rodriguez Asalde v. First Class Parking Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the meaning between the term "employer" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and under the general common law. The Eleventh Circuit applied the common law of agency definition of "employer" in this case and held that Consolidated Citrus was not a joint employer for purposes of plaintiffs' breach-of-contract claim since the company was not an "employer" under the common-law definition of that term. In this case, the relevant factors for determining whether Consolidated Citrus was a common law "employer" were control, the source of the instrumentalities and tools, the location of the work, and the provision of employee benefits. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of Consolidated Citrus on the breach-of-contract claim. View "Garcia-Celestino v. Consolidated Citrus Limited Partnership" on Justia Law