Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, a law firm and its partners, alleging claims for unpaid overtime and retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), breach of contract, and slander. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court vacated the district court's determination that the overtime and breach of contract claims were barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel, holding that the district court did not have the benefit of Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., 871 F.3d 1174 (11th Cir. 2017) (en banc) (Slater II), at the time of its ruling. On remand, the district court must apply Slater II's "all the facts and circumstances" test to determine plaintiff's intent when she made omissions in her bankruptcy and district court filings. Furthermore, the court held that it was error for the district court to ground judicial estoppel in the inconsistencies between plaintiff's initial and amended complaints. In regard to the retaliation claim, the court held that the district court correctly granted summary judgment to defendants, rejecting plaintiff's claim that defendants conspired with others in taking retaliatory actions against plaintiff's attorney. View "Smith v. Haynes & Haynes P.C." on Justia Law

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This consolidated appeal arose after Massage Envy’s stated reason for the termination of intervenor was its fear that she might contract and later develop Ebola due to her trip to Ghana. EEOC and intervenor appealed the entry of judgment for Massage Envy on their employment discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments of 2009. The Eleventh Circuit held that, even construing the statute broadly, the terms of the ADA protect persons who experience discrimination because of a current, past, or perceived disability—not because of a potential future disability that a healthy person may experience later. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's final judgment in favor of Massage Envy. View "Lowe v. STME, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the City, the police department, and others, alleging claims of disability and/or racial or gender discrimination. In regard to the disability discrimination claim, the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet her prima facie burden of demonstrating that she was actually disabled, but was sufficient on whether she was regarded as disabled; the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was a qualified individual; plaintiff met her prima facie burden of demonstrating that the city discriminated against her because of her perceived disability; and plaintiff produced sufficient evidence that she was not a direct threat. In regard to the race and gender discrimination claims, the court held that the evidence of arbitrary personnel decisions surrounding plaintiff's termination, the pretextual justifications offered for the same, the differing treatment of her white male colleagues, and other evidence amounted to sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a triable issue of material fact on whether the police department's actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and/or gender. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's municipal liability claim under 42 U.S.C. 1981 for the police chief's discriminatory actions as the final decisionmaker. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lewis v. City of Union City" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint alleging that defendant demoted plaintiff because of his multiple sclerosis in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court weighed the balancing factors to determine whether an entity acts as an arm of the state entitled to sovereign immunity, and held that, when defendant demoted plaintiff, it did not act as an arm of the state and was thus not entitled to sovereign immunity. In this case, the Alabama Supreme Court previously held that a communications district was not an arm of the state; there was no evidence that the State of Alabama exerts any control over the particular function at issue here; where the entity derives its funds, did not support granting sovereign immunity; and Alabama would not be financially responsible for a judgment against defendant. View "McAdams v. The Jefferson County 911 Emergency Communications District, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of defendant in an action alleging unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this case, plaintiff alleged that her employer failed to pay her over 700 hours of overtime for her work at his law office. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 to alter or amend the judgment where the evidence was newly discovered, the outcome of the trial would have been the same, or there were no manifest errors made by the district court; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying relief under Rule 60 based on a newly discovered email; the district court did not misapply the burden-shifting framework set out in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., when it found that plaintiff did not prove she worked overtime; and the civil plain error rule barred the court's review of the district court's sua sponte failure to recuse. View "Jenkins v. S. David Anton, PA" on Justia Law

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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