Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment against Matthew White and for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HP), White's former employer, on White's claims based on Maine employment law, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.The district court held that controlling Maine Law Court decisions meant White's claims for accrued vacation pay and bonus pay were without merit and that White's remaining claims for equitable relief were unavailing. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) under Maine, law, White had no right to be paid for unused vacation time except as provided for in his employment agreement; (2) White's bonus compensation claims were meritless; (3) the district court was within its discretion to permit HP to produce an additional document before summary judgment; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in commenting about the parties' statements of material facts. View "White v. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's disability discrimination suit against the United States Patent and Trademark Office and its director, holding that the district court did not err.The district court dismissed the action on the grounds that Plaintiff waived his discrimination claim in a settlement agreement that allowed him to resign from his job instead of being terminated. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in finding that his allegation of an unenforceable waiver was implausible. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that the agreement was void because he did not knowingly and voluntarily agree to it. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the district court properly concluded that the waiver was binding. View "Perez-Tolentino v. Iancu" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's claims of disability discrimination and retaliation, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213 (ADA), and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 4, holding that the material facts did not raise a reasonable inference of employment discrimination under state or federal law.After Defendant was terminated from his employment he filed an employment and retaliation complaint under the ADA and Chapter 151B. The district court determined that the undisputed material facts did not raise a reasonable inference that Defendant discriminated or retaliated against Plaintiff because of his disability. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff did not produce sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on his claims. View "Brader v. Biogen Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case brought under the anti-retaliation provision of the False Claims Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding Plaintiff $762,525 in compensatory damages, holding that the causation standard for retaliation claims under the Act is a "but-for" standard.Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, her employer, alleging that Defendant had retaliated against her in violation of the Act after it learned that she had filed a qui tam action against it and one of its largest customers. The jury awarded Plaintiff compensatory damages, and the district court denied Plaintiff's subsequent motions for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) retaliation claims under the Act must be evaluated under the "but-for" causation standard; (2) the "substantial motivating factor" instruction given to the jury was erroneous, but the instruction was not plain error; (3) the jury supportably found sufficient evidence against Defendant on the retaliation claim; and (4) the district court properly denied Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "Lestage v. Coloplast Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law and dismissing Plaintiff's claim that she was fired from her position because of her age, holding that Plaintiff's claims were without merit.After she was discharged, Plaintiff brought suit in the federal district court pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 623(a)(1). Plaintiff also asserted a number of supplemental claims under Puerto Rico law. At trial, once Plaintiff rested, Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not contradict the law of the case doctrine when it excluded certain evidence at trial; (2) did not abuse its discretion in refusing to admit the evidence at trial; and (3) did not err in entering judgment as a matter of law. View "Daumont-Colon v. Coop de Ahorro y Cred Caguas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the October 30, 2019 order of the National Labor Relations Board reinstating its November 10, 2016 order finding that Wang Theatre, Inc. (WTI) committed labor violations by failing to bargain with the Boston Musicians' Association, holding that the Board made errors of law and fact in certifying a bargaining unit that had no employees.BMA petitioned the Board to become the union representative for musicians employed by WTI. WTI argued that the petition should be dismissed because WTI had not employed any musicians since 2014. On November 10, 2016, the Board certified the bargaining unit. BMA then filed a charge with the Board alleging that WTI committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain. The Board granted summary judgment for BMA. On October 30, 2019, the Board reinstated its original November 10, 2016 order. The First Circuit vacated both orders, holding that the Board misapplied the law and its own case law in certifying a no-employee bargaining unit. View "National Labor Relations Board v. Wang Theatre, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of this complaint alleging that Puerto Rico's series of laws that affect the relationship between public employees in the Commonwealth and their employers impermissibly interfere with their collective bargaining rights, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.To address Puerto Rico's fiscal criss, the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly passed the four laws challenged in this case affecting the rights and benefits of public sector workers. Two Puerto Rico unions brought this action alleging that these measures violated the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution and the Collective Bargaining Clause of the Puerto Rico Constitution. The district court dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. View "Hermandad de Empleados v. Financial Oversight & Management Board" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff's racial discrimination and retaliation claims against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), holding that both challenges were meritless.Plaintiff brought claims of racial discrimination, unlawful retaliation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the MBTA. The district court granted summary judgment to the MBTA on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not produce sufficient evidence to get to a jury on his claim that he was denied a promotion based on his race; and (2) Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation. View "Henderson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition filed by United Nurses and Allied Professionals (the Union) for review of the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) ruling that lobbying expenses are categorically not chargeable to objecting employees, holding that unions cannot require objectors to contribute toward lobbying costs.Jeanette Geary worked as a nurse at a Rhode Island hospital where the Union was the exclusive bargaining representative. Geary challenged the Union's decision to charge her for some of its 2009 lobbying expenses and to refuse her a letter verifying that its expenses were examined by an independent auditor. The Board ruled in favor of Geary. The First Circuit upheld the decision, holding (1) the Board's decision on the Union's lobbying expenses comported with Supreme Court decisions addressing the changeability of lobbying expenses by public-sector unions; and (2) the Board's determination requiring the Union to provide Geary a letter signed by an auditor verifying that the financial information disclosed to the objectors had been independently audited was reasonable. View "United Nurses & Allied Professional v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's judgment ordering Council 93, a regional division of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), to reconstitute its executive board "within one year so that there may be proper proportional representation for its constituent locals and members," holding that the district court erred.This case arose out of a dispute between Council 93 and one of its local divisions, Local 402, over the allocation of seats on Council 93's governing executive board. Plaintiffs, members of Local 402, brought this action alleging that the allocation of seats on the executive board violated their right to an equal vote under Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure act of 1959 (LMRDA) and the AFSCME constitution. The district court agreed and ordered Council 93 to reconstitute its executive board. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) any remedy for a violation of the equal rights provision of Title I must be implemented by the Secretary of Labor under the remedial provisions of Title IV of the LMRDA; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to show that the union constitution supported their claims. View "Conille v. Council 93" on Justia Law