Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Lissick v. Andersen Corp.
Plaintiff, who was employed with Andersen from 2000-2018, was terminated for violating lock-out, tag-out (LOTO) safety procedures. After plaintiff filed suit against Andersen, he voluntarily dismissed four of his eight claims and the district court granted summary judgment on the remaining four claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, concluding that Andersen did not violate the Minnesota Whistleblower Act by terminating his employment in retaliation for his previous sexual harassment and falsified documentation complaint. The court explained that plaintiff failed to show causation between the protected activity and his discharge, and summary judgment was therefore appropriate. The court also concluded that plaintiff was unable to establish the causal link necessary for a prima facia case of retaliation under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's retaliation claim under the Family Medical Leave Act also failed for lack of causation. View "Lissick v. Andersen Corp." on Justia Law
Watson v. McDonough
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the VA in an action brought by plaintiff under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging race discrimination, retaliation, constructive discharge, and a hostile work environment she experienced during her employment at the Kansas City VA.Applying the McDonnell Douglass burden-shifting framework, the court concluded that plaintiff's claims failed at the first step because she did not establish a prima facie case of race discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, or constructive discharge. In this case, many of the events plaintiff presents as adverse employment actions—the decision not to "board" the Coding Document Improvement Program (CDI) position, inadequate training on CDI duties, assignment of additional coding work, her performance review, and the written counseling—are not adverse employment actions for purposes of Title VII. View "Watson v. McDonough" on Justia Law
Zimmerli v. The City of Kansas City
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that the district court did not err in determining that a class of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics has been properly paid overtime compensation in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime provision.The court also concluded that the district court did not err in determining that a separate class of dual-function firefighter/paramedics were properly classified as partially exempt from overtime compensation because its members are "employee[s] in fire protection activities" who have the "responsibility to engage in fire suppression" activities under 29 U.S.C. 203(y). View "Zimmerli v. The City of Kansas City" on Justia Law
Evans v. Cooperative Response Center, Inc.
After plaintiff was terminated from CRC through its "no-fault" attendance policy, she filed suit alleging that her termination violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of CRC and dismissal of plaintiff's claims. The court concluded that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's ADA discrimination claim where the undisputed evidence established that she was unable to perform the essential functions of her position. In this case, many of plaintiff's duties as the sole office assistant required her physical presence at the office and she admitted that her absences burdened co-workers by detracting from the time they could spend on their own duties. Furthermore, because plaintiff could not establish a prima facie case of ADA discrimination, her failure-to-accommodate claim necessarily fails. In regard to plaintiff's retaliation claim under the ADA, the court concluded that she failed to present sufficient evidence of the required but-for causal connection.In regard to plaintiff's FMLA claims, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal because CRC did not deny plaintiff FMLA leave to which she was entitled because it was justified in assessing unexcused absence points. In regard to the FMLA discrimination claim, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish a causal connection between her requests for FMLA leave and her termination. Even assuming that plaintiff made a prima facie case of discrimination, the court concluded that CRC had a legitimate, non-discriminatory ground for termination that was not pretextual. View "Evans v. Cooperative Response Center, Inc." on Justia Law
Scarborough v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the employer in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that the employer retaliated against him in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA). The court applied the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework and concluded that, even assuming plaintiff made a prima facie case of retaliation, the employer offered legitimate, non-discriminatory grounds for the adverse employment action. In this case, the employer offered several reasons for demoting and terminating plaintiff: among other things, plaintiff knew of and approved prohibited invoice practices, encouraged another person to do the same, lied about both, and engaged in unethical practices. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to show that the employers' reasons for his termination were pretextual. View "Scarborough v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Canning v. Creighton University
After the University dismissed plaintiff from its medical residency program, plaintiff filed suit for wrongful termination and alleged that the University discriminated against her based on age and disability, as well as retaliated against her.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the University, concluding that the University established a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff's termination. In this case, assuming that plaintiff made a prima facie case for age discrimination, the University produced a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating plaintiff by explaining that she made an egregious error affecting patient safety despite supervisor and attending efforts. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to show evidence of pretext. The court also concluded that plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act because there are no genuine issues of material fact as to whether the University regarded her as disabled at the time before her termination. View "Canning v. Creighton University" on Justia Law
Weatherly v. Ford Motor Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against Ford under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), claiming that Ford terminated him twice and took other adverse employment action against him based on his asthma and scoliosis. The district court dismissed the FMLA claim as time-barred, and dismissed his ADA and MHRA claims on the ground that he exhausted his administrative remedies.The Eighth Circuit concluded that FMLA claims were sufficient to survive a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion. The court also concluded that plaintiff has cleared the exhaustion hurdle on his MHRA claim but has pulled up short on his three ADA claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Weatherly v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law
Transdev Services, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board
The Eighth Circuit denied Transdev's petition for review of the Board's order allowing a certain class of Transdev's workers to seek union representation where the Board determined that Transdev failed to show the workers were supervisors under Section 2(11) of the National Labor Relations Act. The court concluded that substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion that Transdev failed to prove road supervisors have the authority to discipline operators. The court also concluded that substantial evidence supports the Board's determination that Transdev failed to sufficiently prove road supervisors have the authority to discipline or effectively recommend discipline, and therefore Transdev failed to prove road supervisors are statutory supervisors on this basis.In regard to Transdev's alternative argument, the court found that the Board reasonably concluded that the one-time distribution of gift cards under the circumstances described by two road supervisors was insufficient to show that road supervisors have the authority to reward. Furthermore, the Board's decision that Transdev failed to show road supervisors responsibly direct other employees was supported by substantial evidence. Finally, the Board's decision here was supported by substantial evidence, and it did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in finding that Transdev failed to show road supervisors were statutory supervisors, certifying the union, and finding that Transdev committed an unfair labor practice. Accordingly, the court granted the Board's cross-petition for enforcement of its order. View "Transdev Services, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law
Soo Line Railroad Co. v. Administrative Review Board United States Department of Labor
Henin began working Canadian Pacific (CP) in 2003. CP terminated Henin’s employment in 2015, citing rule violations. Henin filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. After investigating, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed Henin’s complaint in a Decision, dated January 11, 2019. Henin received the Decision on January 22. On January 28, Henin filed with the Administrative Review Board a petition for review. On February 5, the Clerk issued a notice indicating acceptance of Henin’s petition. On February 26, the Board dismissed Henin’s petition as untimely. In his motion for reconsideration, Henin explained that he did not receive the Decision until 11 days after its issuance; that before the Decision, there had been no case activity since 2017; and that between December 22, 2018, and January 25, 2019, the federal government experienced a “shutdown.”The Board reinstated Henin’s claim as timely but immediately dismissed it, citing a complaint that Henin filed in federal court under 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(3), which grants federal district courts jurisdiction to review employee claims de novo if, like here, the Secretary of Labor does not issue a “final” decision within 210 days of the complaint’s filing date. The Eighth Circuit denied CP’s petition for review. The Board properly granted reconsideration and appropriately utilized its equitable powers to control its own docket and to recognize the record’s incongruities and the 11-day delay in service. View "Soo Line Railroad Co. v. Administrative Review Board United States Department of Labor" on Justia Law
Lopez v. Whirlpool Corp.
Lopez worked for Whirlpool under the supervision of Gralund. Various people, including Gralund and Penning, assigned Lopez to fill in areas of the line. Penning was not a supervisor. Lopez alleges that Penning began touching her in inappropriate ways. She asked him to “back off.” There were more incidents of touching but Lopez did not report them to HR, any supervisor, or her union. Lopez later testified that she “[made] it clear to [Gralund].” Lopez and Penning subsequently had two disputes about how Lopez was to perform her job. Lopez then made her first written complaint, which noted incidents involving her working conditions but did not mention Penning’s harassment. Lopez later reported “that [she] felt like [Penning] was retaliating” by hovering and staring at her. Lopez resigned four days later, apparently without mentioning “Penning” or “harassment” in her voicemail.Lopez sued for sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the Iowa Civil Rights Act. During discovery, Whirlpool spent time and money on multiple depositions that never occurred. Whirlpool invoked 28 U.S.C. 1927; the magistrate imposed a $2,000 sanction against Lopez’s counsel. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the sanction order and the subsequent entry of summary judgment in favor of Whirlpool. Lopez failed to raise a triable fact on what Whirlpool knew or should have known about Penning’s conduct; she never gave Whirlpool an opportunity to take corrective action. View "Lopez v. Whirlpool Corp." on Justia Law