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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Decisions of interest concerning Labor and Employment Law

Decisions of interest concerning Labor and Employment Law
Source: Justia November 11, 2011

Court: U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 11-1339
November 10, 2011
Judge: Lynch
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
A TSA worker developed a diabetic ulcer on his foot, was unable to work, and, after missing several months of work, was terminated from his position. The district court dismissed claims under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), 115 Stat. 597, and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 791. The First Circuit affirmed, concluding that the ATSA clearly eliminates any cause of action under the Rehabilitation Act for TSA screeners.




Court: U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 11-1080
November 10, 2011
Judge: Thompson
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff, an employee of the VA, was accused of committing fraud with respect to a work-related injury. Her employment was terminated. When mediation failed, plaintiff was notified that she had 15 days to file a complaint with the EEOC. Her attorney failed to comply with the deadline and the EEOC dismissed her complaint. The district court dismissed a complaint of disability discrimination. The First Circuit affirmed. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12112(a) and the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, require exhaustion of administrative remedies. Plaintiff did not establish the factors required to toll the time limit: she and her attorney were aware of the limitation period; no motion for appointment of counsel was pending; the court did not lead plaintiff to believe she had done everything required; and no affirmative misconduct by the VA had lulled her into inaction.




Court: U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-3330
November 9, 2011
Judge: Young
Areas of Law: Family Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff, a law firm marketing director, took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act just before the birth of her child and continuing after the birth. While she was on leave, her supervisors informed her that her position was eliminated as part of an organizational restructuring and terminated her employment. She filed suit, alleging pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; interference with rights under the FMLA; retaliation under the FMLA; and a violation of her right to a bonus under the FMLA. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The Seventh Circuit reversed.Statements allegedly made by the human resources director, fell within the scope of the h.r. director's employment and should have been admitted as nonhearsay under Rule 801(d)(2)(D). Those statements provided direct evidence of discriminatory intent and of a connection between taking leave and termination.




Court: U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-2705
November 10, 2011
Judge: Conley
Areas of Law: Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff, a financial advisor, sued her employer for allegedly discriminating based on her gender and retaliating against her because of her complaints of gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. There was no evidence that a realignment of territories or disciplinary action against plaintiff were based on her gender. While both inappropriate and condescending, a supervisor referring to plaintiff as "cutie" 5 to 10 times over the course of two months was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment by itself, especially since it is undisputed that he stopped when asked. Plaintiff did not prove constructive discharge. The supervisor's patently offensive response to her resignation, "good riddance bitch," was not direct evidence of gender discrimination.




Court: Alabama Supreme Court
Docket: 1100970
November 4, 2011
Judge: Bolin
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
Petitioner Andrew Sutley petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Court of Civil Appeals to quash a May 2011 writ. In its nion, the appellate court directed the Montgomery Circuit Court to vacate its December 2010 order that added the Alabama State Personnel Board as a party to Petitioner's administrative appeal. The underlying matter arose from Petitioner's dismissal from his job as an Alabama State Trooper. Petitioner moved to add the Board as respondent to his appeal at the circuit court. The circuit court granted that motion five months after the Board entered its final order upholding Petitioner's dismissal. The Board then petitioned the Court of Civil Appeals for a writ of mandamus to order the circuit court to dismiss Petitioner's case as untimely. Upon its review of the record, the Supreme Court found Petitioner did not have a clear legal right to a writ of mandamus to direct the appellate court to quash its writ of mandamus. Accordingly, the Supreme Court denied his petition.




Court: Montana Supreme Court
Docket: DA 11-0026
November 1, 2011
Judge: Nelson
Areas of Law: Labor & Employment Law
Employee brought an action under the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, alleging that he was wrongfully discharged from employment. Employer moved for summary judgment, contending that it had good cause to terminate Employee. The district court granted Employer's motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Employer because disputed issues of material fact still existed as to whether Employer violated the express provisions of its written personnel policy by failing to apply it consistently and equally to all of its employees, whether Employee wrongfully demoted and transferred Employee, and whether this demotion and transfer was directly linked to Employee's discharge.




Court: Nebraska Supreme Court
Docket: S-11-174
October 28, 2011
Judge: Gerrard
Areas of Law: Business Law, Injury Law, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff Darlene Howsden was injured on premises that were leased to her employer by a legally distinct entity that was owned and operated by the same shareholders as her employer. Plaintiff sued Defendant, the entity that owned the premises, for negligence. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff's exclusive remedy was under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in concluding that the exclusive remedy rule extended to Defendant because (1) Defendant was a legally separate entity from Plaintiff's employer, despite their corporate kinship, and there was no equitable basis to justify piercing the corporate veil between the two entities; and (2) therefore, Defendant was a third party to the employment relationship between Plaintiff and her employer, so Plaintiff's third-party claim against Defendant was not barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Act.




Court: Nebraska Supreme Court
Docket: S-10-960
November 4, 2011
Judge: Gerrard
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law
The City of Scottsbluff implemented changes to police officers' health insurance coverage and related benefits without bargaining with the Scottsbluff Police Officers Association (the Union). The Union filed a petition with the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR), alleging that the City violated Nebraska's Industrial Relations Act (IRA) by unilaterally implementing changes in the health insurance hazardous activities exclusion and by unilaterally changing the group health care benefits. The CIR (1) determined that the City violated the IRA, ordered the City to return the parties to the status quo ante, and ordered the parties to commence good faith negotiations within thirty days; and (2) determined that the Union had not violated the IRA in refusing to execute a previously ratified agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the portion of the CIR's order requiring the parties to commence good faith negotiations on the health insurance issues was affirmed; and (2) the Union's refusal to execute the previously ratified agreement constituted a prohibited practice under the IRA. Remanded to determine what remedies were available to the City for the Union's violation.




Court: Ohio Supreme Court
Docket: 2011-0441
November 1, 2011
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
The State Employment Relations Board (SERB) appointed Kay Kingsley as an administrative law judge (ALJ), which was a classified position. Several years later, the General Assembly enacted H.B. 1, which changed the position of SERB ALJ from the classified service to the unclassified service. That same year, SERB terminated Kingsley's employment. Kingsley requested a writ of mandamus to declare H.B. 1 unconstitutional as applied to her and to order SERB to recognize her as a classified employee and to reinstate her to her former ALJ position. The court of appeals dismissed Kingsley's mandamus complaint, determining that Kingsley had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law by way of an administrative appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kingsley did not set forth a viable claim for the requested extraordinary relief in mandamus as she had an adequate remedy by way of civil-service appeal to raise her claims.




Court: Virginia Supreme Court
Docket: 101837
November 4, 2011
Judge: Mims
Areas of Law: Contracts, Labor & Employment Law
Employee of a pest control company signed an employment agreement containing a provision stating that he would not engage in similar business within two years after he ceased employment. After resigning and within the two-year period set forth in the provision, Employee became employed by another pest control company. Employer filed a complaint asserting that Employee's subsequent employment violated the provision. Employee filed a plea in bar, asserting that the provision was overbroad and therefore unenforceable. The circuit court granted the plea in bar and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling the provision was unenforceable.




Court: Wyoming Supreme Court
Docket: S-11-0072
November 9, 2011
Judge: Voigt
Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Government & Administrative Law, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law
Appellant Steven DeLoge, an inmate in the state penitentiary, was working in the kitchen when he was injured in an altercation with another inmate. Appellant filed a workers' compensation claim based on the injuries sustained from a head-butt from the other inmate. The Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division (Division) denied the claim. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluded that Appellant's injuries were the result of illegal activity and were therefore not compensable under the Wyoming Worker's Compensation Act. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the head-butt was a battery under the criminal statute then existing, and therefore an illegal activity, Appellant was not eligible for workers' compensation benefits.




Court: Wyoming Supreme Court
Docket: S-11-0029
October 28, 2011
Judge: Voigt
Areas of Law: Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
Appellants, Timothy Araguz and James Elder, were injured in separate incidents while working at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. After receiving compensation through Wal-Mart's private workers' compensation fund, Appellants filed for benefits under the Wyoming Worker's Compensation Act. The Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division denied their request, and the Office of Administrative Hearings confirmed the denial. At issue on appeal was whether Appellants were engaged in extrahazardous employment as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-108. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of benefits, holding that Wal-Mart was not engaged in extrahazardous employment as defined by the legislature and, therefore, Appellants were not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.




Court: Wyoming Supreme Court
Docket: S-11-0013
November 1, 2011
Judge: Golden
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Injury Law, Labor & Employment Law
The Wyoming Workers' Compensation Division denied Rick Bodily benefits for medical expenses related to his micro-lumbar discectomy for a herniated disc in his lower back after determining that Bodily's medical treatment was not related to his compensable work-related back injuries. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) granted the Division's motion for summary judgment against Bodily. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed OAH's summary judgment, holding (1) genuine issues of material fact about causation of Bodily's disc herniation existed; and (2) the OAH erroneously acted as the trier of fact at the summary judgment stage in this case by weighing all the evidence and making credibility determinations.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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