Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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Plaintiff filed suit alleging a sex discrimination claim for a failure to promote against the County of Wright and the Wright County Sheriff's Department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the County, holding that plaintiff failed to present evidence that one of the reasons for the chief deputy's actions in not promoting plaintiff was gender animus; plaintiff failed to argue that the interview notes show that the other panelists' negative impressions of her were pretextual, or that the chief deputy was somehow responsible for their negative impressions; and plaintiff failed to point to any evidence of gender animus from the other panelists. The court also held that the district court did not err by concluding that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to her cat's-paw theory. View "Pribyl v. County of Wright" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) dispute between the parties where an arbitrator resolved the dispute in favor of the union. The Eighth Circuit held that because the arbitrator was arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority, there is no basis for vacating the arbitrator's finding that Exide violated the CBA. The court also held that the district court correctly determined that it did not have jurisdiction over Exide's claim that the arbitrator's decision that unilaterally changing Family Medical Leave Act leave administrators was a material, substantial and significant change in the employees' terms and conditions of employment in violation of Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act. Rather, Congress has empowered the NLRB to resolve unfair-labor-practice claims in the first instance. Furthermore, the cases cited by the parties do not expand the court's original jurisdiction. View "Exide Technologies v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under Title VII against Midwest after it allegedly withdrew his job offer after learning that he was gay. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal based on Williamson v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., 876 F.2d 69, 70 (8th Cir. 1989), and remanded for further proceedings in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton Cty., 590 U.S. ___, Nos. 17-1618, 17-1623, 18-107, slip op. at 4 (June 15, 2020), which held that it "defies" Title VII for "an employer to discriminate against employees for being homosexual or transgender," because to do so, it "must intentionally discriminate against individual men and women in part because of sex." View "Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Koss in an action brought by plaintiff, a former employee, alleging that Koss terminated her employment in retaliation for her complaints about pay discrimination based on sex in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The court held that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to pretext. In this case, plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence as to the question of whether there was no basis in fact for Koss's proffered reason for her termination: there was lack of work at the project. The court also held that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on the question of whether a retaliatory reason more likely motivated the manager's decision to terminate her. View "Yearns v. Koss Construction Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the railroad under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), alleging that the railroad discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and her use of FMLA leave when it terminated her. The railroad maintains that plaintiff was terminated as part of a reduction in force (RIF) without discriminatory intent. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the railroad, holding that the affidavits that the district court relied on were not sham affidavits; plaintiff failed to present any evidence to create a genuine dispute of material fact that her gender was a contributing factor in her termination; the RIF was legitimate and plaintiff failed to demonstrate evidence showing that her gender was a contributing factor in her termination; and thus the district court properly granted the railroad summary judgment on plaintiff's MHRA gender-discrimination claim. Because plaintiff does not offer any direct evidence that the railroad terminated her in the RIF for exercising her FMLA rights, the court analyzed her claim under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. In this case, the railroad proffered a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating plaintiff and she failed to show that the stated reason was a pretext for FMLA discrimination. View "Button v. Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to UPS in an action brought by plaintiff for retaliation and discrimination under 42 U.S.C. 1981. The court held that plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because he cannot link protected conduct with his demotion. In this case, plaintiff concedes that his supervisor and his supervisor's supervisor did not know about the statements plaintiff made on two different occasions. The court also held that plaintiff's race discrimination claim failed at the third step of the McDonnell Douglas framework because UPS provided a legitimate, non-discriminatory basis for the action: plaintiff was failing to perform his duties. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether UPS's explanation for his demotion was pretext for discrimination. View "Williams v. United Parcel Service, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Sheriff's Office appealed the district court's denial of qualified immunity on First Amendment wrongful-discharge claims brought by former Deputy Sheriffs Timothy Bruce and Robert Curtis. Bruce and Curtis's complaints alleged that Cole, the newly elected sheriff, discharged them for political reasons in violation of their First Amendment rights. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity, holding that political loyalty is an appropriate requirement for the job of deputy sheriff under Missouri law because of the closeness and cooperation required between sheriffs and their deputies in fulfilling overlapping duties. In this case, Cole did not violate Bruce and Curtis's constitutional rights. Consequently, the county is also entitled to summary judgment on the claims against it. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Curtis v. Christian County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Falcon Jet violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act when it failed to pay team leaders and production liaisons not less than one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked in excess of forty per week after June 6, 2014. Sixteen other team leaders and production liaisons joined the action. Falcon Jet claimed exemptions for executive or administrative employees and highly-compensated employees. The district court held that the exemptions do not apply and awarded plaintiffs liquidated damages. The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that the district court erred in granting plaintiffs summary judgment on the limited record, because the record did not establish that every plaintiff was not an exempt employee for the entire period at issue. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Coates v. Dassault Falcon Jet Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff's former employer, Con-E-Co, on plaintiff's sex discrimination claim, her sexual harassment claim, and her retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination because she did not demonstrate that she met Con-E-Co's legitimate job expectations or that Con-E-Co treated her differently than similarly situated male employees; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Con-E-Co regarding her sexual harassment claim based on vulgar behavior directed at her by her coworkers, because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she subjectively perceived the alleged harassment as abusive; and plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for retaliation in response to either her race discrimination or sex discrimination complaints. View "Gibson v. Concrete Equipment Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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After apprentice electrician Timothy Sky was seriously burned by an arc flash while connecting wires from a new electrical panel at the ADM corn processing plant, Jacobs was cited for a single serious violation of 29 C.F.R. 1910.335(a)(1)(i) for failing to ensure that Sky was wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The ALJ upheld the citation and the Commission denied Jacobs' administrative appeal. The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that substantial evidence on the record supports the ALJ's finding that Jacobs knew or should have known of the need to reevaluate its permissive PPE policy when Sky was told he had not finished the work. The court rejected Jacobs' contentions that the ALJ erred in failing to establish an affirmative defense; Sky violated its work rule requiring employees to stay within the scope of their assigned work; 29 C.F.R. 1910.335(a)(1)(i) does not impose a legal duty on employers to ensure that employees wear appropriate PPE; and the citation mistakenly stated that Sky was terminating the ground wire when the arc flash occurred. The court concluded that Jacobs' contentions were either without merit or did not warrant vacating the ALJ's final decision. View "Jacobs Field Services North America, Inc. v. Scalia" on Justia Law