Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
Anthony Slayden v. Center for Behavioral Medicine
Plaintiff worked as a security officer at the Center for Behavioral Medicine (CBM). Plaintiff sued CBM, alleging a racially hostile environment, disparate treatment based on race, retaliation, and constructive discharge in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment to CBM. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that while Plaintiff argued that his retaliation claims are like or related to the substance of his EEOC charge, he doesn’t address how they are related, thus the court considered the argument waived. Further, the court wrote that Plaintiff’s argument fails on the merits too. Plaintiff testified to three occasions he considered retaliation by HR, all of which occurred in mid-to-late 2019. But the charge’s only references to HR’s actions were about the finding that Plaintiff’s August 2018 grievance was unsubstantiated and HR’s failure to provide a grievance or complaint form when Plaintiff asked for one. Plaintiff never claimed that either action was retaliatory. Further, the court found that Plaintiff has not exhausted his constructive discharge claim either. Here, Plaintiff’s charge gave no indication that he was about to be constructively discharged, and Plaintiff did not resign from CBM until approximately five months after he filed his charge. View "Anthony Slayden v. Center for Behavioral Medicine" on Justia Law
Render v. FCA US, LLC
In 2013, Render started as a line worker at FCA. FCA terminated his employment in 2015, for attendance infractions. Render filed a union grievance and FCA conditionally reinstated him in April 2017, with a one-year probationary period. Under his Conditional Reinstatement Letter, FCA could terminate him if he incurred two unexcused tardies or one unexcused absence during that year. About six months after his reinstatement, Render applied for intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, to manage his major recurrent depression and anxiety disorder. The letters conditionally approving the leave gave Render conflicting instructions about how to call in to use his FMLA leave days. Render believed that he had to call a 1-800 number and report his absence. He “didn’t realize there was a second number.”Render’s subsequent attempts to call in and use his FMLA leave did not satisfy his supervisors. He was terminated for violating his Reinstatement Letter by incurring three tardies and two absences. The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of Render’s FMLA interference and retaliation claims. Render’s notice to FCA met FMLA requirements. Render established a prima facie retaliation claim. . Render raised sufficient facts showing that FCA’s nondiscriminatory reason for his termination (noncompliance with FCA’s policies) was pretextual. View "Render v. FCA US, LLC" on Justia Law
Joseph Mobley v. St. Luke’s Health System, Inc.
Plaintiff sued St. Luke’s pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. Plaintiff alleged that St. Luke’s: discriminated against him on the basis of his disability, gender, and race; failed to accommodate him; and retaliated against him. St. Luke’s sought summary judgment on all issues, and the district court granted St. Luke’s motion. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s ruling regarding only his claims of disability discrimination under the MHRA and failure to accommodate under the ADA and the MHRA. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the record demonstrates several steps that St. Luke’s took in response to Plaintiff’s request for accommodation. Thus, because there is no triable issue as to whether St. Luke’s acted in good faith, the court wrote it need not reach the final step of the analysis, which is whether St. Luke’s could have reasonably accommodated Plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment on Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim. Likewise, in opposing St. Luke’s motion for summary judgment before the district court, Plaintiff failed to argue his constructive discharge claim. View "Joseph Mobley v. St. Luke's Health System, Inc." on Justia Law
Dominick v. DHS
Plaintiff was dismissed from her role as a Cadre On-Call Response Employee (CORE) for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2017. Plaintiff claimed that her dismissal resulted from race-based discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following administrative proceedings in which an administrative law judge rejected her complaint, Plaintiff filed suit in federal district court. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s order granting FEMA summary judgment and denying her motion for additional time to conduct discovery, arguing that the court abused its discretion by declining to grant a continuance under Rule 56(d) as required by Chandler v. Roudebush. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that because Plaintiff failed to diligently pursue her limited discovery needs during the two-month continuance, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying her Rule 56(d) motion. Further, Chandler cannot be construed as demanding further discovery where, as here, the government acquiesces, but the employee fails to diligently pursue it. Plaintiff received a de novo trial and treatment equal to that afforded to a private-sector employee. The district court did not contravene Chandler by denying further discovery and granting the summary judgment motion. View "Dominick v. DHS" on Justia Law
Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. Inc. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc.
Caudill's subsidiary develops nutritional supplements. Jarrow, a dietary-supplement company, solicited Ashurst, Caudill’s Director of Research, who had extensively researched the development of broccoli-seed derivatives at issue. Ashurst had signed Non-Disclosure, Non-Competition, and Secrecy Agreements, and annually signed Caudill’s employee handbook, which barred him from disclosing Caudill’s trade secrets or other confidential information. In April 2011, Ashurst, still a Caudill employee, emailed Jarrow confidential Caudill documents. Days later, Jarrow requested a file of the pertinent data. Ashurst sent a physical disc. On May 1, Ashurst began to work for Jarrow. Ashurst then submitted his resignation to Caudill. Ashurst’s Agreement with Jarrow indicated that Jarrow hired him to mimic his work for Caudill, Ashurst proposed that Jarrow adopt the process that Caudill used to manufacture the raw materials for its BroccoMax supplement. Jarrow brought an activated broccoli product into commercial production four months after hiring Ashurst. From 2012-2019, Jarrow earned $7.5 million in sales of their BroccoMax-type product.In a suit under the Kentucky Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment of $2,427,605 in damages awarded by the jury, $1,000,000 in exemplary damages, $3,254,303.50 in attorney fees, and $69,871.82 in costs against Jarrow. The court rejected arguments that Caudill failed to define one of its Trade Secrets adequately, failed to show that Jarrow acquired that Trade Secret; and did not introduce sufficient evidence attributing its damages to that misappropriation, as well as challenges to the awards of damages. View "Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. Inc. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc." on Justia Law
Price v. Victor Valley Union High School Dist.
La Vonya Price worked intermittently as a part-time substitute special education aide at the Victor Valley Unified School District (the District) before applying for a full-time position. She received an offer for a full-time position that was contingent on passing a physical exam. When she failed the physical exam for not being “medically suitable for the position,” the District rescinded the offer, terminated her as a substitute, and disqualified her from any future employment with the District. Price sued the District for retaliation and various disability-related claims, but the trial court granted summary judgment to the District. Price appealed, contending the trial court erroneously granted summary judgment to the District because there were triable issues of fact concerning all of her claims. The Court of Appeal agreed as to her first claim for disability discrimination, but disagreed as to the rest of her claims. View "Price v. Victor Valley Union High School Dist." on Justia Law
Ramirez v. PK I Plaza 580 SC LP
Ramirez, a self-employed contractor, was hired by a shopping center’s tenant to remove an exterior sign after the tenant vacated its space. While searching for the sign’s electrical box, he entered a cupola on the shopping center’s roof and fell through an opening built into the cupola’s floor, sustaining serious injuries. In a suit against Kimco, which owns and operates the shopping center, the trial court granted Kimco summary judgment based on the Privette doctrine, which creates “a strong presumption under California law that a hirer of an independent contractor delegates to the contractor all responsibility for workplace safety[,] . . . mean[ing] that a hirer is typically not liable for injuries sustained by an independent contractor or its workers while on the job.”The court of appeal reversed and remanded. Kimco did not hire its tenant or Ramirez to perform the work. Kimco did not delegate its own responsibility for the roof’s condition to Ramirez through an employment relationship, as contemplated by Privette. Nor did Kimco delegate such responsibility by virtue of its landlord-tenant relationship. The court acknowledged “the strong possibility that Kimco will prevail under general principles of premises liability. “ View "Ramirez v. PK I Plaza 580 SC LP" on Justia Law
Fresquez v. BNSF Railway
Plaintiff Brandon Fresquez filed suit against his former employer, defendant BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), claiming that BNSF violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) by terminating his employment in retaliation for him engaging in certain activities that were expressly protected under the FRSA. A jury found in favor of Fresquez on his claim of retaliation under the FRSA, and awarded him $800,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages. Following the trial, Fresquez moved for an award of back and front pay. The district court granted that motion in part and awarded Fresquez a total of $696,173. BNSF argued on appeal: (1) it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the merits of Fresquez’s claims; (2) alternatively, it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of punitive damages. BNSF further argues that it was entitled to a new trial on the merits of Fresquez’s claims based on the district court’s admission of character and other prejudicial evidence; (3) it was entitled to a new trial on the issue of compensatory damages; and (4) the district court abused its discretion by awarding Fresquez ten years’ worth of front pay. Rejecting these arguments, the Tenth Circuit found no reversible error and affirmed judgment. View "Fresquez v. BNSF Railway" on Justia Law
Christopher Thompson v. University of Arkansas Brd of Trustees
Plaintiff, a campus police officer, initiated a retaliation action after he was terminated following an incident where he responded to a call for an intoxicated man who had lost consciousness. Employer's reason for Plaintiff's discharge was that he did not properly handle the situation, and it warranted termination. The trial court accepted Employer's reason as non-pretextual and granted Employer's motion for summary judgment.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding there are no genuine disputes of material fact that would allow a reasonable jury to find in favor of Plaintiff. Assuming without deciding that Plaintiff established a prima facie case of retaliation, Employer's proffered reason for Plaintiff's termination was legitimate and non-pretextual. View "Christopher Thompson v. University of Arkansas Brd of Trustees" on Justia Law
Local Union 97 v. NRG Energy, Inc.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO 20 (“Local Union 97”), a union primarily of electrical workers, executed a memorandum of agreement (“2003 MOA”) detailing a two-pronged approach to providing retiree life insurance benefits. Local Union 97 brought a complaint seeking to compel arbitration of a grievance they submitted alleging that NRG violated the terms of the CBAs by changing the life insurance benefit for the Pre-2019 Retirees to a lump sum of $10,000. The district court held that: 1) the grievance is not arbitrable under the 2019-2023 CBA, 2) the 2003 MOA is not arbitrable, and 3) the grievance is not arbitrable under any of the CBAs covering 2003-2019. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded and held the grievance is arbitrable under the 2019-2023 CBA because the broad arbitration provision creates a presumption in favor of arbitrability that NRG failed to overcome. The court also held that the parties’ dispute was arbitrable under the Prior CBAs because the 2003 MOA was a supplemental agreement that arguably vested the life insurance benefit for life. View "Local Union 97 v. NRG Energy, Inc." on Justia Law