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Plaintiffs, African-Americans, worked for Union Pacific as “Signal Helpers,” an entry‐level job. After a probationary period, both became eligible for promotion. Union Pacific did not respond to their requests to take a required test, then eliminated the Signal Helper position in their zones. Both were terminated. They filed charges with the EEOC. After receiving notification from the EEOC, Union Pacific provided some information but failed to respond to a request for company-wide information, despite issuance of a subpoena. The EEOC issued right‐to‐sue letters, 42 U.S.C. 2000e‐5(f)(1). Plaintiffs sued. The district court granted Union Pacific summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While that action was pending, the EEOC issued Union Pacific a second request for information, served a second subpoena, and brought an enforcement action. The district court denied Union Pacific’s motion to dismiss, rejecting its arguments that the EEOC lost its investigatory authority either after the issuance of a right to sue notice or when Union Pacific obtained a judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting a split in the Circuits. Given the EEOC’s broad role in preventing employment discrimination, including its independent authority to investigate charges of discrimination, especially at a company‐wide level, neither the issuance of a right‐to‐sue letter nor the entry of judgment in a lawsuit brought by individuals bars the EEOC from continuing its own investigation. View "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Aleksei Sviridov was terminated as a police officer for the City of San Diego. In the first appeal, Sviridov challenged an order denying his petition for administrative mandamus in which he sought a determination by the Civil Service Commission of the City on the merits of his challenge to his first termination. The Court of Appeal concluded Sviridov's administrative claim was moot in light of the decision to reinstate Sviridov and to pay his back pay and benefits. In a second appeal, the Court affirmed summary judgment on Sviridov's third amended complaint asserting claims for wrongful termination stemming from his second termination (among others). The Cout reversed the trial court's order sustaining defendants' demurrer to Sviridov's ninth breach of contract cause of action and remanded the matter with directions to grant Sviridov leave to amend his complaint to state a cause of actin under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act ("POBRA") or to seek mandamus relief. Following remand, Sviridov filed a fourth amended complaint seeking relief under POBRA without pursuing a writ of mandate. The court entered judgment after a bench trial ordering Sviridov's reinstatement as a police officer and awarding him back pay and benefits. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in "Sviridov III" concluding Sviridov was not entitled to POBRA relief because Sviridov did not timely appeal his termination with the office of the chief of police as required by a memorandum of understanding with the San Diego Police Officers' Association. The matter was remanded again with directions to enter judgment in favor of the City and stated the City was entitled to costs on appeal. In the present appeal, Sviridov appealed the award of costs to the City, arguing the City was not entitled to costs based upon Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire Dist., 61 Cal.4th 97, (2015), which held that in actions based upon the California Fair Employment and Housing Act costs should not be awarded under Government Code section 12965(b), to a defendant against an unsuccessful FEHA plaintiff "unless the plaintiff brought or continued litigating the action without an objective basis for believing it had potential merit." Sviridov also argued POBRA prohibited an award of costs for the defense of his POBRA claim unless the action was frivolous or brought in bad faith. The City argued neither of these statutes applied because the City was entitled to its costs pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 9981 since Sviridov rejected multiple statutory settlement offers and did not obtain a more favorable result. The Court of Appeal agreed with the City and affirmed the cost award. View "Sviridov v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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PPL hired McNelis as a Nuclear Security Officer in 2009. McNelis had unrestricted access to PPL’s plant, carried a firearm, and was authorized to use deadly force. In 2012, McNelis experienced personal and mental health problems. McNelis was paranoid and had problems with alcohol and bath salts—a synthetic drug that affects the central nervous system. McNelis’s wife moved herself and the children out of the family home. Police received an anonymous 911 call that resulted in a lockdown at his children’s school. McNelis had a three-day stay in an inpatient treatment unit. Pursuant to NRC regulations, McNelis’s unrestricted access was “placed on hold” pending medical clearance. A third-party psychologist interviewed McNelis and performed testing required by PPL policy and NRC regulations and reported that McNelis was not fit for duty. PPL revoked McNelis’s unescorted access authorization and terminated his employment. After his appeal was denied, McNelis sued, claiming his termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court held that McNelis was fired because he lacked a legally mandated job requirement: the unrestricted security access authorization that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires for armed guards. The Third Circuit affirmed. PPL followed NRC regulation procedures; “[w]hen Congress enacted the ADA, it recognized that federal safety rules would limit application of the ADA as a matter of law.” View "McNelis v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co" on Justia Law

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In 2012, plaintiff filed suit against Union Pacific under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq., alleging liability for a lower back injury. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that plaintiff's suit was time-barred because he should have known about his injury and its cause more than three years before filing suit. In this case, plaintiff, a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific, testified that in 2007 and 2008 he experienced recurring lower-back pain that he attributed to potholes in the tracks, and that this was the same pain for which he later sought medical treatment. View "White v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an African-American, filed suit against DHS, alleging that the Department's decision to give a promotion for which he was qualified to a Caucasian female employee just four weeks after he had complained of race and age discrimination was unlawful retaliation. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of his retaliation claim for failure to exhaust remedies, holding that plaintiff expressly raised the non-promotion retaliation claim in his equal employment opportunity complaint. The record at this early procedural juncture showed that plaintiff came forth with sufficient factual allegations and inferences to require, at a minimum, that he be afforded discovery before summary judgment proceedings. Because the record contained a number of plausible factual disputes pertaining to plaintiff's claims of retaliation that could not be resolved on a motion for summary judgment, the court remanded those claims to the district court for further proceedings. View "Coleman v. Duke" on Justia Law

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Owens became the maintenance supervisor at Phillips Academy. Months later, he came under supervision by Miller. According to Owens, he told Miller that he had an age-discrimination suit pending against the Board of Education. She replied: “Do you think you’re going to keep your job?” Owens maintains that he reminded Miller about the suit weeks later. She replied: “I think you lost your mind ... you think you’re going to keep your job.” The next month Miller gave Owens an “unsatisfactory” rating, the worst he had received since 1975. Owens contends that Miller told him: “I told you you weren’t going to get away with that.” Months later. the Board of Education, with a shrinking budget and declining enrollment, laid off 25 maintenance workers. Owens took early retirement, which he characterized as constructive discharge, alleging that Miller discriminated based on his age (61) and his first suit. The district court granted the Board summary judgment, finding that Miller had legitimate reasons to downrate Owens, who had several performance deficits. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part: the record would not permit a reasonable trier of fact to conclude that Owens’s age influenced his “unsatisfactory” rating. Owens’s retaliation theory, however, cannot be resolved on summary judgment. A reasonable juror could conclude that Miller threatened to get rid of Owens on account of his lawsuit and used the rating to do that. View "Owens v. Board of Education of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Regency operated for‐profit cosmetology schools in 20 states. Each offered classroom instruction and practical instruction in a salon, where members of the public could receive cosmetology services at low prices. Hollins, formerly a Regency student, asserts that the work she performed was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, and that Regency violated state wage laws. She wanted to bring suit as an FLSA collective action and a state class action but the district court denied her motion to conditionally certify the FLSA action and never certified a class action under FRCP 23. The court addressed the individual merits of her case and granted summary judgment in Regency’s favor. Regency has since closed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first rejecting a claim that it lacked jurisdiction. There was a final judgment despite the unaccepted opt‐in notices that the court received. On the merits, the court noted that time on the Professional Floor was a state‐mandated requirement for professional licensure; Hollins was actually paying for supervised practical experience; Regency was in the educational business, not in the beauty salon business; and Hollins did not need to go out and find a place where she could serve her supervised practice. View "Hollins v. Regency Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2011, Plaintiffs, former arbitrators for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, brought a due process action challenging the implementation of a workers’ compensation reform statute that terminated their six‐year appointments under prior law. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a clearly established right that was violated. While that suit was pending, the Illinois governor declined to reappoint Plaintiffs, which ended their employment. Two years later, Plaintiffs filed suit against the governor and his advisors, alleging retaliation for filing the prior suit and that the retaliation violated the First Amendment. The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims, holding that the Due Process Suit was not protected speech. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, declining decide whether the Due Process Suit was speech on a matter of public concern as is required for a government employee to show retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs’ claims fail because Plaintiffs were policymakers who could be not reappointed for engaging in “speech on a matter of public concern in a manner that is critical of superiors or their stated policies.” View "Hagan v. Quinn" on Justia Law

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Clyde Carter, Jr. injured his shoulder and neck while working as a carman at BNSF Railway Company’s yard in Kansas City, Kansas. Carter immediately reported the injury to BNSF. The following year, he filed a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) damage action, alleging that BNSF’s negligence caused his injury. BNSF’s discovery in defending the FELA lawsuit included a July 2009 deposition of Carter. In January 2012, as trial approached, a BNSF manager reviewed discovery materials provided by BNSF’s attorneys. He discovered discrepancies between Carter’s deposition testimony and information provided on his employment application and medical questionnaire submitted to BNSF in 2005. Thompson initiated a disciplinary investigation into potentially dishonest statements. Later, BNSF opened a second disciplinary investigation to determine if Carter signed a false statement that he arrived at work on time on February 5, 2012. The investigations culminated in two "on-property" evidentiary hearings, the conclusions of which found Carter committed dishonesty violations and recommended discipline in accordance with BNSF’s Policy for Employee Performance Accountability (PEPA). It was recommended Carter be terminated for dishonesty, a "stand alone" violation that could result in dismissal without regard to an employee's prior disciplinary history. Following termination, Carter filed an FRSA complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging that BNSF initiated the investigations leading to his dismissal in retaliation for Carter reporting the August 2007 work-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed Carter’s complaint, finding he committed the violations, and BNSF proved by clear and convincing evidence that "other employees who had not engaged in protected activity have been dismissed from service for dishonesty." Carter filed objections. After an evidentiary hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that BNSF violated 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(4) and awarded reinstatement, back pay, attorneys’ fees, and $50,000 punitive damages. BNSF filed an administrative appeal. The Secretary’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) affirmed the ALJ. BNSF appealed. The Eighth Circuit found the ALJ's reasoning was based on a flawed interpretation of the FRSA; though the Administrative Review Board did not rely on the ALJ's chain-of-events causation theory, it affirmed based on findings which were either non-existent or insufficient to support the Board's contributing factor and affirmative defense rulings. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded with instructions. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. LABR" on Justia Law

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Under the facts of this case, the doctrine of sovereign immunity did not protect the State from an arbitrator’s award of prejudgment interest. This case arose from Grievant’s termination from her job as a public school teacher. The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) filed a grievance on Grievant’s behalf, and an arbitration hearing was held pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between HSTA and the Hawaii State Department of Education (State). The arbitrator sustained the grievance and ordered that Grievant be restored to her former position. The arbitrator also determined that Grievant was entitled to interest on unpaid backpay. Before the circuit court, the State argued that Grievance was not entitled to the awarded interest. The circuit court vacated the portion of the award that gave Grievant prejudgment interest. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) reversed the circuit court’s order vacating the prejudgment interest award, concluding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not implicated in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICA did not err in concluding that the State waived its sovereign immunity in the arbitration proceedings, even as to the issue of interest. View "In re Arbitration between Hawaii State Teachers Association and State of Hawaii, Department of Education" on Justia Law