Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to MVM, Inc. as to a former employee’s claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000, et seq., and related Puerto Rico laws, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment as to these claims. Plaintiff, a former employee of MVM, Inc., brought a variety of federal and Puerto Rico law claims against MVM and other defendants. After dismissing several of Plaintiff’s claims, the district court granted summary judgment to MVM as to the remainder. The First Circuit affirmed the summary judgment ruling, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to MVM on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, Plaintiff’s claim under Title VII that MVM had unlawfully subjected her to disparate treatment because of her gender, and Plaintiff’s claim under Title VII for retaliation. View "Bonilla-Ramirez v. MVM, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 57 (RSU 57) on Charlene Richard’s claims that RSU 57 violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, Maine Human Rights Act, and Maine Whistleblower Protection Act, holding that there was no clear error in the district court’s findings. Richard, a former kindergarten teacher at Waterboro Elementary School, claimed that RSU 57 retaliated against her for her advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities. The district court concluded that Richard had not met her burden of proving that her advocacy had actually prompted the adverse actions against her and entered judgment for RSU 57. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not improperly require Richard to present evidence of causation beyond that which supported her prima facie case; and (2) Richard’s remaining arguments were similarly unavailing. View "Richard v. Regional School Unit 57" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s retaliation claims as pertains to a handful of the original defendants in this case, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies in bringing her Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), 18 U.S.C. 1514A, claim to federal court. Plaintiff filed a complaint under SOX with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that she was retaliated against through termination in violation of SOX’s whistleblower protection provision. In the federal courts, the district court concluded that Plaintiff’s OSHA complaint was untimely and thus dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s OSHA complaint was filed outside the requisite timeframe, and Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff’s complaint failed to plead sufficient facts to raise a plausible claim for relief under SOX. View "Newman v. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Plaintiff, a faculty member, on her claim of retaliation under Title VII and the Maine Human Rights Act against Defendant, the university that employed her, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the university retaliated against her after she complained about sexual harassment by her department chair and supervisor. The alleged retaliatory acts included Plaintiff’s transfer to a new department after obtaining her consent to transfer by making misrepresentations about how the transfer would affect her professional responsibilities. The First Circuit remanded the case, holding that summary judgment was improper because there were genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Defendant misled Plaintiff into transferring departments and as to whether Plaintiff’s transfer was the true reason for her change in teaching assignments. View "Carlson v. University of New England" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Medina & Medina, Inc. in this employment discrimination lawsuit, holding that summary judgment was properly granted as to Plaintiff’s discriminatory wage disparity claims and gender-based hostile work environment claims but improperly granted as to Plaintiff’s federal and Puerto Rico age-based hostile work environment claims and retaliation claims. The district court held that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment as to any of her claims. The First Circuit held (1) based on the evidence proffered by both parties, summary judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff’s discriminatory wage disparity and and gender-based hostile work environment claims; (2) where Plaintiff produced evidence that she was taunted about her age nearly every single day for over two years, summary judgment was not appropriate as to Plaintiff’s age-based hostile work environment claim; (3) there was a genuine issue of fact that precluded summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims of retaliation; and (4) Plaintiff’s supplemental claims brought pursuant to Puerto Rico law were properly disposed of upon summary judgment. View "Rivera-Rivera v. Medina & Medina, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order granting summary judgment to Stericycle of Puerto Rico and other defendants on Plaintiff’s claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and dismissing without prejudice Plaintiff’s related Puerto Rico law claims, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not err in holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Title VII claim for gender-based disparate treatment; (2) correctly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Title VII claim for retaliation; and (3) did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motion to strike Defendants’ motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. View "Micheo-Acevedo v. Stericycle of Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case brought under section 104 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (the LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. 414, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that a union member’s statutory right to “inspect” collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) did not encompass a right to take notes while doing so. Dimie Poweigha, a member of Local Union 26, UNITE HERE, was dissatisfied with the administration of Local 26 and asked the union to permit her to review thirty-seven CBAs that Local 26 had negotiated with employers other than her own. The union offered Poweigha opportunities for this purpose but stated that she could not take notes on the CBAs during her inspections. Poweigha filed this suit alleging that the limitation on note-taking violated section 104 of the LMRDA. The district court granted judgment for Local 26. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, in conferring a right on union members to “inspect” CBAs under section 104, Congress did not also invest the members with a right to take notes. View "Acosta v. Local Union 26, UNITE HERE" on Justia Law

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In this case brought pursuant to the Massachusetts Wage Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought an action against Defendant, which owned and operated the hospital at which Plaintiff worked, under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Plaintiff alleged that, at the time she was discharged, she was owed thousands of dollars in paid time off and extended sick leave. Defendant removed the case to the federal court on the basis of Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), preemption. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff, awarding her damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) federal subject-matter jurisdiction existed at the time of removal because there was then a colorable claim of complete preemption under LRMA, and even after that colorable federal question evaporated during pretrial discovery, the district court retained authority to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the case; and (2) the district court properly found that Plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment. View "Lawless v. Steward Health Care System, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of the Town of Camden, Maine on Plaintiff’s complaint claiming that Camden deprived him of his procedural due process rights when Camden laid him off because it violated the recall provision in his collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Plaintiff, a police dispatcher with Camden for thirty-one years, was laid off after Camden moved its police department’s dispatch operations to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department in the Town of Rockland. Plaintiff sued Camden pursuant to 42 .U.S.C. 1983. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Camden, determining (1) the CBA conditioned an employee’s recall right on the written submission, after layoff, of the employee’s mailing address and telephone number; and (2) Plaintiff had not contacted the town manager with his contact details after his layoff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the jury’s determination undid Plaintiff’s case because, without a right to recall, there was no deprivation of a protected property interest and no violation of Plaintiff’s due process rights. View "Clukey v. Town of Camden, Maine" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the entry of a jury verdict awarding over $1.3 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages to Plaintiff, a black female former employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), who claimed that her supervisors at the MBTA conspired to terminate her employment because of her race. The Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the compensatory damages award for wrongful termination and to justify the punitive damages amount; (2) the trial judge committed clear error in imposing a sanction for removing the entry of default, but the MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced by the default sanction order; (3) MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced when the trial judge allowed a hostile work environment theory not explicitly pled in the complaint to go to the jury; and (4) MBTA waived its claim that it should be able to take advantage of Buntin v. City of Boston, 857 F.3d 69 (1st Cir. 2017), decided while this case was on appeal. View "Dimanche v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law