Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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Coleman challenged the Commission's decision that its 18 working-days-late response to a citation notice that had been misplaced in the company's internal mail system demonstrated inexcusable neglect and barred the company from contesting the citations for nearly $70,000. The Fifth Circuit held that the Commission's decision misapplied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), which applied under the Commission's own regulations. The court held that the equities weighed in favor of the Company having an opportunity to assert its defenses in OSHA's administrative proceedings. Therefore, the Commission's contrary determination denying relief from the untimely filing was legally in error and an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court vacated that decision, remanding for a hearing on the merits of the OSHA violations. View "Coleman Hammons Construction Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school district in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging claims under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) for discrimination on the basis of her national origin, sex, and age. Plaintiff alleged that the school district discriminated against her and retaliated against her when she complained of said discrimination. The court held that plaintiff's employment discrimination claim failed, because plaintiff failed to prove that the district court imposed an adverse employment action where she never received a reprimand from the school district. Rather, plaintiff was placed in a growth plan that sought to improve upon her weaknesses. The court also held that plaintiff's unsupported speculation, that the principal's failure to provide plaintiff with a recommendation letter constituted an adverse employment action, did not create a genuine issue of material fact. Finally, the court held that, at best, plaintiff's humiliation as a result of another teacher's comment was an unpleasant workplace experience, not an adverse employment action. The court also held that plaintiff's retaliation claim and constructive discharge claim failed as a matter of law. View "Welsh v. Fort Bend Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer for retaliation under the False Claims Act. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the employer and held that plaintiff demonstrated a causal connection between his protected activity and his firing. Therefore, the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to establish his prima facie case. The court also held that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding pretext. In this case, as evidence of pretext, plaintiff pointed to temporal proximity between his protected activity and his firing; his dispute of the facts leading up to his termination; a similarly situated employee who was not terminated for similar conduct; harassment from his supervisor after the company knew of his protected whistleblowing conduct; the ultimate stated reason for the company's termination of plaintiff had been known to the company for years; and the company stood to lose millions of dollars if its conduct was discovered. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Garcia v. Professional Contract Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Brock filed suit against a former employee for violating his employment agreement's non-compete provision and requested a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the injunction, holding that the agreement was not geographically overbroad. In this case, when defendant signed the agreement, he knew that he could be prohibited from working in the identified parishes, and that the restriction was the only one the district court enforced following reformation. The court also held that the district court did not err in admitting parol evidence and in determining that the parties' intent as to the meaning of subsection 7.1(a) of the agreement regarding where defendant needed to be working for Apache in order to violate the provision; the district court's reliance on evidence of customer solicitation was unnecessary to the finding of breach; and thus the district court did not err in finding a likelihood of success on the merits. In this case, defendant has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in finding the balance of harm and public interest weigh in Brock's favor; the burden to plaintiff was minimal; and the injunction did not disserve the public. View "Brock Services, LLC v. Rogillio" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seeking to recover unpaid overtime wages. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant because plaintiff was exempt from the FLSA. In this case, plaintiff fit within the highly compensated employee exemption to the FLSA. However, the court vacated the award of costs because the district court did not state its reasons for declining to award costs to the prevailing party. Accordingly, the court remanded the issue to the district court. View "Faludi v. U.S. Shale Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's race discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. In this case, plaintiff was terminated from her position as deputy clerk with the City of Houston, Mississippi as part of a group of layoffs designed to offset the City's budget shortfall. The court held that plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of material fact that her race was a motivating factor in her termination or that there was a causal connection between her EEOC complaint and that termination. View "Harville v. City of Houston" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer in an action brought by plaintiff, a former employee, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The court held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding the employer's reason for firing him. Although the parties agreed that plaintiff made a prima face case of employment discrimination, the court held that the employer provided a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing plaintiff: a broad reduction in force. The court also held that plaintiff failed to show that the employer's reason for firing him was pretextual. In this case, no evidence showed that age was a factor in any of the employer's firing decisions. View "McMichael v. Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendant, the newly elected district attorney, fired them because they supported his political opponent. The district court denied defendant qualified immunity on the individual and official capacity claims. The Fifth Circuit held that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as to four of the plaintiffs and reversed based on defendant's qualified immunity. However, in regard to the individual capacity claims, the court held that genuine disputes of material fact exist as to whether Cazares, Palmira Munoz, and Maldonado were policymakers or confidential employees. Accordingly, the court dismissed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Maldonado v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Texas filed suit against the EEOC and the Attorney General, challenging the EEOC's guidance on employers' use of criminal records in hiring. On remand, the district court dismissed Texas's claim under the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA), but enjoined defendants from enforcing EEOC's guidance against Texas until EEOC complied with the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The Fifth Circuit held that the Guidance was a reviewable final agency action that the court had jurisdiction to review. Furthermore, Texas had standing to sue EEOC and the Attorney General to challenge the legality of the Guidance. On the merits, the court held that the Guidance was a substantive rule subject to the APA's notice-and-comment requirement and that EEOC overstepped its statutory authority in issuing the Guidance. Because the Guidance is a substantive rule, and the text of Title VII and precedent confirmed that EEOC lacked authority to promulgate substantive rules implementing Title VII, the court modified the injunction by striking the clause "until the EEOC has complied with the notice and comment requirements under the APA for promulgating an enforceable substantive rule." The court also modified the injunction to clarify that EEOC and the Attorney General may not treat the Guidance as binding in any respect. Therefore, the court affirmed the injunction as modified and declined to consider the DJA claim. View "Texas v. EEOC" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Small Business Development Center is not a juridical entity capable of being sued under federal law for alleged age discrimination. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by plaintiff against the Center, alleging that she was fired because of age discrimination. The court held that plaintiff failed to state a claim and that the proper party to name as a defendant would have been the Board of Supervisors. However, the Board of Supervisors is an arm of the state entitled to state sovereign immunity against claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. View "Edmiston v. LA Small Business Development Center" on Justia Law