Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Plaintiffs Atterbury and Hauschild filed suit alleging that they were improperly discharged as Court Security Officers (CSOs). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the USMC. The Second Circuit held that a discharged public employee, like plaintiffs here, working for a federal government contractor has a property interest in continued employment. The court also held that plaintiffs' discharges did not comply with the requirements of procedural due process. In this case, although plaintiffs were informed of the initial misconduct allegations that gave rise to the relevant investigations, USMS provided no explanation of the reasons for its decisions that they be removed from the CSO program. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded in Atterbury's case, and affirmed and remanded in Hauschild's case. View "Atterbury v. United States Marshals Service" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, alleging associational discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court held that plaintiff has stated a claim for association discrimination under the ADA, because the complaint supports an inference that plaintiff was qualified for his position and that he was fired because his supervisor assumed he would be distracted by his daughter's disability. In this case, plaintiff's allegations provide all that was needed to raise a minimal inference that plaintiff's employer thought plaintiff's daughter was a distraction, and concern over distraction was a determining factor in plaintiff's termination. View "Kelleher v. Fred A. Cook, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Citigroup, alleging gender discrimination and whistleblower retaliation claims under several local, state, and federal statutes, including the Dodd‐Frank and Sarbanes‐Oxley Acts. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court appropriately compelled arbitration of all but plaintiffʹs Sarbanes‐Oxley claim, including her Dodd‐Frank whistleblower retaliation claim, because her claims fall within the scope of her employment arbitration agreement and because she failed to establish that they are precluded by law from arbitration. The court also held that plaintiff's Sarbanes‐Oxley claim was properly dismissed because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over it inasmuch as plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under the statute. View "Daly v. Citigroup Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was terminated from his position as a substitute teacher, he filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging in relevant part procedural due process and stigma‐plus claims related to the termination of his employment. Plaintiff was terminated from his position after defendants instituted an investigation into sexual misconduct claims, but ultimately concluded that there were no grounds for an investigation. The Second Circuit held, with respect to plaintiff's due process claim, that he failed to establish a clearly established right to the meaningful opportunity to utilize his teaching license. The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that defendantsʹ conduct was sufficiently stigmatizing under clearly established law so as to give rise to a "stigma‐plusʺ claim. Therefore, the court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity and the district court erred by denying summary judgment as to both claims. The court remanded with instruction. View "Mudge v. Zugalla" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's award of summary judgment to defendants on plaintiff's state law claims of sex discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The court held that summary judgment was correctly entered in favor of AutoZone on plaintiff's Connecticut claims of discriminatory discharge based on sex, retaliatory discharge for reporting sexual harassment, and a sex hostile work environment because plaintiff failed to adduce sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could resolve any of these claims in her favor; the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's own deposition testimony could not raise a genuine issue of fact as to AutoZone's having notice of plaintiff's sexual harassment by a co‐worker before August 2014 because that testimony was unequivocally contradicted by her own earlier sworn and written statements, and she failed plausibly to explain the numerous contradictions; and the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of fact as to the harassing co‐worker being a supervisor, which was required for AutoZone to be strictly vicariously liable for any ensuing hostile work environment. View "Bentley v. AutoZoners, LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendants, athletics officials at Binghampton, appealed the district court's denial in part of their motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit held that the district court erroneously conflated the distinct Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1983 standards for both vicarious liability and causation. The court clarified the differences between discrimination claims brought under Title VII and those brought under section 1983. The court held that section 1983 claims for discrimination in public employment require plaintiffs to establish that the defendant's discriminatory intent was a "but‐for" cause of the adverse employment action; section 1983 claims for discrimination in public employment cannot be based on a respondeat superior or "cat's paw" theory to establish a defendant's liability; and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because, even when interpreted in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the record cannot support the conclusion that they violated her "clearly established" constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order in regard to the section 1983 claims against defendants, entered judgment for defendants, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Naumovski v. Norris" on Justia Law

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Where a collective bargaining agreement contains unambiguous language vesting welfare benefits, the agreement's general durational clause does not prevent those benefits from vesting. The Second Circuit held that the effects bargaining agreement (EBA) unambiguously vested medical coverage for retirees who retired prior to the expiration of the EBA. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of union retirees who retired prior to the expiration of the EBA and their surviving spouses, and its order permanently enjoining Honeywell from terminating medical coverage for those union retirees and their surviving spouses. The court held that the EBA was ambiguous as to whether medical coverage for union retirees who retired after the EBA expired and their surviving spouses vested. Nonetheless, the court held that the Post‐Expiration Plaintiffs have presented a sufficiently serious question as to the merits and satisfied the remaining requirements for a preliminary injunction to issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order preliminarily enjoining Honeywell from terminating the Post‐Expiration Plaintiffs' medical benefits and remanded for further proceedings View "Kelly v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of Attending's motion to compel arbitration in an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL). The court held that the arbitration clause mandated arbitration of the relevant claims and did not deny due process to Attending's employees. In this case, the union agreed to mandatory arbitration in the collective bargaining agreement on behalf of its members and the arbitration agreement here clearly and unmistakably encompassed the FLSA and NYLL claims. Furthermore, the challenged portion of the arbitration clause, which simply specified with whom arbitration will be conducted in accordance with established Supreme Court precedent, did not violate due process. View "Abdullayeva v. Attending Homecare Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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In an action alleging that her employer and union engaged in disability-based discrimination under New York state law, plaintiff appealed the district court's judgment denying her motion to remand to state court. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly denied plaintiff's motion for remand because all of her claims were preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Section 301 governs claims founded directly on rights created by collective bargaining agreements, and also claims substantially dependent on analysis of a collective bargaining agreement. In this case, plaintiff's claims against the hospital defendants and the union were preempted because they were substantially dependent upon analysis of the collective bargaining agreement. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and concluded that they were meritless. Accordingly, the court dismissed the complaint. View "Whitehurst v. United Healthcare Workers East" on Justia Law

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Employer petitioned for review of the Board's holdings that it engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The Second Circuit granted the petition to the extent it challenged the Board's rulings and orders with regard to "interrogation" and the discharge of an employee for insubordination, and the order that the Board's remedial notice be read aloud at a meeting of employees. The court denied the petition for review in all other respects and granted the cross-petition for enforcement in part, denying in part. View "Bozzuto's Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law