Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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Current and former Whole Foods employees initiated this diversity action seeking to recover purportedly lost wages, alleging that Whole Foods manipulated its incentive-based bonus program, resulting in employees losing wages otherwise owed to them. In the not yet certified class action, Whole Foods moved to dismiss all nonresident putative class members for lack of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Whole Foods' motion to dismiss, on alternative grounds, holding that putative class members -- absent class certification -- are not parties before a court and thus Whole Foods' motion was premature. The court wrote that, only after the putative class members are added to the action, should the district court entertain Whole Foods' motion to dismiss the non-named class members. Finally, the court held that Whole Foods' remaining arguments were without merit. View "Molock v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Hospital petitioned for review of an administrative decision affirming the Secretary's citation for violating the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) by inadequately protecting its employees from the recognized hazard of patient aggression toward staff. The DC Circuit held that, to the extent that they were preserved, the Hospital's objections failed to overcome the court's deference for the agency. In this case, substantial evidence supported the IJ's conclusion that the Hospital's incomplete and inconsistently implemented safety protocols were inadequate to materially reduce the hazard posed by patient-on-staff violence. Furthermore, the ALJ's determination that a more comprehensively considered and applied program would materially reduce the hazard was fully warranted by her legal analysis and evidentiary findings. Finally, the court held that the General Duty Clause provided fair notice in this case. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part and denied in part the petition for review. View "BHC Northwest Psychiatric Hospital, LLC v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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Jackson served in the Marine Corps, 1977-1991. Almost 30 years after his honorable discharge, Jackson filed a pro se complaint alleging that toward the end of his military career, his supervising officers discriminated against him because he is a black male, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The district court inferred additional claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A), and the Military Pay Act, 37 U.S.C. 204 but ultimately dismissed all of Jackson’s claims. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. The court noted the unanimous rulings of other sister circuits, concluding that Title VII does not apply to uniformed members of the armed forces. Jackson’s APA claim was untimely and, although the limitations period is no longer considered jurisdictional, the facts alleged were insufficient to apply equitable tolling. Jackson was able to manage his affairs and comprehend his rights; he alleged that at the time of the alleged discrimination, he knew that he “had been subjected to wrongdoing and strongly desired justice.” The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the dismissal of Jackson’s Military Pay Act claim; the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction of such claims. View "Jackson v. Modly" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a white male of Chilean origin, filed suit under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), alleging that WMATA failed to promote him on the basis of age and national origin and later retaliated against him for complaining of such discrimination by continuing to deny him promotions. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that WMATA was entitled to sovereign immunity from the ADEA claims; affirmed the grant of summary judgment on all Title VII claims not exhausted via the 2014 Charge of Discrimination; and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the Title VII claims arising out of the 2014 EEOC charge. The court held that plaintiff failed to present evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that WMATA's nondiscriminatory and non-retaliatory rationale for denying plaintiff a promotion in Fall 2013 was pretext for discrimination or retaliation. View "Oviedo v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the Commission's order finding that the company violated regulations promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). In this case, the company had hired a construction contractor to remove steel beams from four shipping containers by crane. During unloading, the contractor crane operator touched an overhead power line with the crane, electrocuting three company employees and injuring others. The court held that the Commission adequately explained why it viewed the circumstances here as different from Sec'y of Labor v. Sasser Elec. & Mfg. Co., 11 O.S.H. Cas. (BNA) 2133, and more akin to Fabi Construction Co. v. Secretary of Labor, 508 F.3d 1077 (D.C. Cir. 2007). Unlike in Sasser, the Commission explained that this was the first time that the company had hired the contractor to perform crane work, so there was no history of safe crane practices in compliance with the Act upon which to base reasonable reliance. Furthermore, the Commission stated the potential duration of exposure to the violative condition was different. Therefore, the Commission's decision not to treat Sasser as dictating the outcome here was not arbitrary. The court also held that the Commission did not misapply the summary judgment standard, because there was no genuine dispute about the scope of the agreement between the company and the contractor, the foreseeability of the accident, and the "signaling" within OSHA regulation. View "Manua's, Inc. v. Scalia" on Justia Law

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Duquesne petitioned for review of the Board's decision and order requiring the school to bargain with a union representing the school's adjunct facility. Duquesne argued that its religious mission places it beyond the Board's jurisdiction. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review, agreeing with the Supreme Court and the courts of appeals which have held that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—read in light of the Religion Clauses—does not allow the Board to exercise jurisdiction over religious schools and their teachers in a series of cases over the past several decades. The court held that Pacific Lutheran University, 361 N.L.R.B. 1404 (2014), runs afoul of the court's decisions in University of Great Falls v. NLRB, 278 F.3d 1335 (D.C. Cir. 2002), and Carroll Coll. v. NLRB, 558 F.3d 568, 574 (D.C. Cir. 2009), which continue to govern the reach of the Board's jurisdiction under the NLRA in cases involving religious schools and their faculty members or teachers. Therefore, the court held that the Board has no jurisdiction in this case and the court need not address the remaining arguments. View "Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit held that the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act of 1992 (Coal Act) required Arch Coal, as a person related to a 1988 last signatory operator (LSO), to provide security, and the security previously provided on behalf of Arch Coal's former subsidiaries does not satisfy that requirement. In this case, the letter of credit was no longer in force and the proceeds that the Trustees drew from it did not satisfy the requirement that Arch Coal provide security in one of the three ways allowed by statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the Trustees of the United Mine Workers of America 1992 Benefit Plan. View "Holland v. Arch Coal, Inc." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted Constellium's petition for review of the Board's decision determining that the company violated sections 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by suspending and discharging an employee. The court held that, although the Board's decision was based upon substantial evidence and did not impermissibly depart from precedent without explanation, the Board failed to address the potential conflict between its interpretation of the NLRA and Constellium's obligations under state and federal equal employment opportunity laws. In this case, the arguments advanced by Constellium in its Answering Brief and reprised in its motion for reconsideration were sufficiently specific to apprise the Board that the issue might be pursued on appeal. Because the Board offered no argument on the merits of this point, remand was necessary for the agency to address the issue in the first instance. View "Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied Affinity's petition for review of the Board's finding of labor practices violations. The court held that substantial evidence supported the finding that Affinity committed unfair labor practices by disciplining firing, and reporting to the state nursing board a pro-union nurse; excluding a union organizer from the hospital; and threatening nurses who filled out union complaint forms. The court was without jurisdiction to review Affinity's only defense to the refusal-to-bargain charge. View "DHSC, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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After the Board found that the company violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act by suspending and discharging one of its employees, the company petitioned for review. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review, denied the Board's application for enforcement of its order as it related to the employee, and held that, although the Board was not obliged to agree with either the judge or its dissenting member, the Board was obligated to confront evidence detracting from its conclusions, particularly where the dissenting member has offered a nonfrivolous analysis. The court held that the Board failed to adequately explain the basis of its disagreement with the ALJ and took action against the company without the support of substantial evidence. In this case, the Board's decision relating to the company's suspension and discharge of the employee, the Board's conclusion regarding the significance of the post-discharge investigations, and the Board's disparate treatment finding were all unsupported by substantial evidence. View "Windsor Redding Care Center, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law