Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employers, alleging that the cars that he parks in his job as a valet parker are the interstate "materials" that bring his employer within the definition of an enterprise engaged in commerce such as to provide Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants and subsequently denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. The Eleventh Circuit held that because the cars plaintiff parks are "goods," not "materials," the ultimate consumer exception operates to exclude from the category of covered "goods" the handling of the cars at issue here. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Rodriguez v. Gold Star, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Georgia district attorney and others under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants conspired to violate his First Amendment rights. Plaintiff, employed as the director of the police department's crime lab, was terminated from his position after the district attorney contacted the police chief to express his concerns that plaintiff had written an expert report for and planned to testify on behalf of the defense in a criminal case. The Eleventh Circuit held that prosecutors were not entitled to absolute immunity for their alleged actions in this case because those actions were not taken in their role as advocates. However, the prosecutors were entitled to qualified immunity because they were acting within the outer perimeter of their discretionary skills in expressing concerns about plaintiff's outside work, and the law was not clearly established at the time. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the prosecutors' motion for judgment on the pleadings based on qualified immunity and remanded. View "Mikko v. Howard" on Justia Law

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Defendant filed suit against his former employer under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601-2654, alleging that the employer interfered with the exercise of his FMLA rights and later retaliated against him for asserting those rights. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer. Because plaintiff likely waived his FMLA right to reinstatement by taking an additional 30 days of medical leave, because he failed to submit a fitness-for-duty certification by the end of his FMLA leave, and because the record was devoid of proof challenging the employer's contention that its fitness-for-duty certification policy was implemented in a uniform fashion, plaintiff lost the right to be reinstated after failing to comply with this policy. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to show that he was denied a benefit to which he was entitled under the FMLA, and the district court properly granted summary judgment as to the interference claim. The court affirmed as to this claim. The court held that temporal proximity, for the purpose of establishing the causation prong of a prima facie case of FMLA retaliation, should be measured from the last day of an employee's FMLA leave until the adverse employment action at issue occurs. In this case, plaintiff has met his burden of raising a genuine dispute as to whether his taking of FMLA leave and his termination were casually related. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment as to the retaliation claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care of Delaware, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Prestige, for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 207(a)(1). The parties agreed that plaintiff worked an average of sixty hours per week during his employment, but they disagreed about the number of hours he worked in any individual week. The court concluded that the district court erred when it allocated commissions earned in one month across weeks worked in other months. The court explained that each commission payment that plaintiff received reflected "commissions that were earned" within a single month. Under 29 C.F.R. 778.120, the district court could allocate commissions earned in January, for example, across weeks worked in January, but not across weeks worked from February through December. Because the district court may allocate commissions across only the weeks in the period (in this case, the month) in which the commissions were earned, the court concluded that this case presented a genuine dispute about a material fact. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Freixa v. Prestige Cruise Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against her employer, alleging that she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation and gender non-conformity, and retaliated against after she lodged a complaint with her employer's human resources department. The district court dismissed her pro se complaint. The court held that discrimination based on failure to conform to a gender stereotype was sex-based discrimination. In this case, a gender non-conformity claim was not "just another way to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation," but instead constituted a separate, distinct avenue for relief under Title VII. Therefore, the court vacated the portion of the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's gender non-conformity claim with prejudice and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiff leave to amend such claim. The court concluded that binding precedent, Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., foreclosed plaintiff's argument that she had stated a claim under Title VII by alleging that she endured workplace discrimination because of her sexual orientation. The Blum court held that discharge for homosexuality was not prohibited by Title VII. Therefore, the court affirmed the portion of the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's sexual orientation claim. Finally, the court considered any challenge to the district court's treatment of plaintiff's retaliation claim as waived. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital" on Justia Law

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American Dawn terminated plaintiff, a restaurant linen salesman, for participating in a fraudulent scheme against ALSCO, and plaintiff later found employment with American Dawn's competitor, Baltic. After plaintiff joined Baltic, a sales manager at American Dawn and a consultant for ALSCO allegedly conspired to freeze Baltic out of the restaurant linens market. Plaintiff lost his job as a result of the alleged conspiracy and subsequently filed suit, alleging violation of the antitrust laws, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff lacked standing to challenge a conspiracy directed at his employer even if the conspiracy caused plaintiff's termination. The court further concluded that plaintiff failed to plead claims of racketeering, tortious interference, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Feldman v. American Dawn, Inc." on Justia Law

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The parties filed cross-complaints after Christopher Carmicle was terminated from Brown Jordan. After the district court entered judgment for Brown Jordan, Carmicle appealed. Carmicle raised issues regarding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. 2701, wrongful discharge, and breach of an employment agreement. The court concluded that Carmicle’s CFAA arguments fail because Brown Jordan suffered “loss” as defined in the CFAA; Carmicle waived his unopened-versus-opened-email argument under the SCA because he did not fairly present it to the district court, and Brown Jordan showed Carmicle exceeded his authorization in accessing the emails of other Brown Jordan employees; and the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Carmicle’s wrongful discharge claim or in concluding that Carmicle was terminated for cause as defined by the Employment Agreement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Brown Jordan International, Inc. v. Carmicle" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a labor dispute involving the H-2A visa program. Defendant Consolidated Citrus Limited Partnership (“Consolidated Citrus”) appealed from the district court’s order granting judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and holding Consolidated Citrus liable as a joint employer. All original plaintiffs were Mexican nationals who came to the United States temporarily to work as harvesters on citrus groves in central Florida. These plaintiffs entered the United States legally under the federal H-2A visa program. During the 2005-06 harvest season, Consolidated Citrus struggled to find sufficient labor to meet its harvesting needs. Starting with the 2006-07 harvest season, Consolidated Citrus began working with labor contractors to hire temporary foreign workers. One such labor contractor was defendant Ruiz Harvesting, Inc. (“RHI”), owned by Basiliso Ruiz (“Ruiz”). Consolidated Citrus expected the temporary workers to be at their assigned groves at some time in the early morning, but RHI personnel ultimately decided what time the workers would arrive. Each day, RHI transported workers to and from the groves in RHI vehicles. Under the H-2A program regulations, agricultural workers compensated on a piece-rate basis must be paid at least the equivalent of the wages they would have received under the applicable “adverse effect wage rate” (“AEWR”), which was the hourly minimum set by the Department of Labor. Where a worker’s piece-rate wages did not add up to the wages the worker would have earned under the hourly rate, the employer had to supplement that worker’s earnings to meet that minimum wage. The supplemental amount was known as “build-up” pay. RHI perpetrated a kickback scheme to recoup this build-up pay: on payday, RHI employees drove the H-2A temporary workers to a bank where the workers cashed their paychecks. The workers then returned to the RHI vehicle, where an RHI employee collected cash from each worker in an amount equal to that worker’s build-up pay. H-2A workers were told to return money only to Ruiz and RHI and only when the workers’ paychecks included build-up pay. No one from Consolidated Citrus demanded that H-2A temporary workers return their build-up pay, and no H-2A temporary worker ever complained directly to Consolidated Citrus about RHI’s kickback scheme. After careful review of this matter, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings. To the extent that the district court held Consolidated Citrus liable as a joint employer for purposes of the plaintiffs’ Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims, the Court affirmed. The Court reversed, however, the district court’s determination that the FLSA “suffer or permit to work” standard applied to the breach of contract claims for purposes of determining whether Consolidated Citrus qualified as a joint employer under the H-2A program. The case was remanded to the district court to apply, in the first instance, that governing standard of common law agency for purposes of the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claims. View "Garcia-Celestino, et al. v. Consolidated Citrus Ltd. Partnership" on Justia Law

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Leokadia Bryk, a disabled nurse, sought a reasonable accommodation in the form of a job reassignment to another unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital because she required the use of a cane, which posed a safety hazard in the psychiatric ward where she worked. After Bryk did not obtain another Hospital position, the Hospital terminated her employment. The EEOC filed suit on her behalf against the Hospital. Based on the framework in U.S. Airways, Inc. v. Barnett, the court affirmed the district court's finding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., did not require job reassignment without competition as a reasonable accommodation. The court also agreed with the district court’s summary judgment rulings finding that Bryk was a “disabled qualified individual” under the ADA and that the Hospital’s 30-day allowance to apply for alternate jobs was reasonable as a matter of law. However, the court disagreed with the district court’s order granting in part the EEOC’s Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion for alteration of the judgment. The court explained that, except in rare circumstances not present here, motions under Rule 59(e) may not be used to raise new legal theories or arguments, much less in this case where the movant under Rule 59(e), the EEOC, was seeking to contravene language in the jury instructions and verdict form that the EEOC had previously proposed. Therefore, the EEOC failed to meet the Rule 59(e) standard and the district court erred in altering the judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "EEOC v. St. Joseph's Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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MBUSI seeks review of the Board's order modifying and adopting as modified the recommended order of the ALJ, finding that MBUSI violated the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. The Board found that MBUSI violated the Act by (1) maintaining an overly broad solicitation and distribution rule that employees would reasonably understand to prohibit solicitation in work areas by employees not on working time of other employees not on working time; (2) prohibiting an employee not on working time from distributing union literature in one of MBUSI’s team centers, which are mixed-use areas; and (3) prohibiting employees not on working time from distributing union literature in the MBUSI atrium, which is a mixed-use area. The court enforced the order with the exception of the last four words of paragraph 1(b) and the words “team centers and” in the Appendix. The court remanded to the Board with instructions to consider whether MBUSI’s team centers are converted mixed-use areas during the pre-shift period. If so, the Board should either narrow the scope of the Order to Gilbert’s team center or conduct additional factfinding regarding special circumstances at the 18 team centers the ALJ did not consider. View "Mercedes-Benz U.S. Int'l v. NLRB" on Justia Law