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

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the Authority's order finding that the Union committed unfair labor practices by attempting to dismantle the pool of arbitrators selected by a predecessor union and thereby impeding access to the grievance process.The court held that the Authority's conclusion that the Union committed unfair labor practices was not arbitrary and capricious. Rather, the Authority followed its own precedent when it determined that the Union's outreach to the two arbitrators amounted to unfair labor practices. The court also held that the Authority did not act contrary to law when it determined that the Union acted outside of the statutory protection for the expression of personal views; the Union has not demonstrated that its First Amendment rights were violated, seeing as it failed to identify a public concern implicated by its speech; the Authority's nontraditional remedy did not exceed its statutory authority because it was an appropriate exercise of its power to carry out the purposes of the Civil Service Reform Act by restoring the status quo ante; and the Union's application for leave to adduce additional evidence is denied because the Union has not established that the evidence is material or that there were reasonable grounds for the Union's failure to adduce it earlier. View "Independent Union of Pension Employees for Democracy and Justice v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted a petition for review of the NLRB's determination that Circus committed three unfair labor practices related to a temporary employee. The court held that the Board engaged in unreasoned decisionmaking by finding unfair labor practices without substantial evidence on the record as a whole and by departing from announced standards in an arbitrary and capricious manner.   The court held that NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), requires an employee to affirmatively request union representation in a manner reasonably calculated to put the employer on notice. In this case, the employee's statement of fact standing alone was insufficient to trigger the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. The court also held that the Board misapplied the Wright Line mixed-motive test by failing to consider the employer's rebuttal case. Consequently, this error is fatal to the Board's finding that Circus violated section Section 8(a)(1) by suspending and terminating the employee because of a protected activity. Finally, the court held that the ALJ witness credibility determinations supporting the conclusion that the employee was threatened is patently insupportable. In regard to the unlawful termination finding, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Circus Circus Casinos, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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After the CBP distributed a memorandum to its agents changing vehicle inspection procedures at the El Paso border checkpoint, the Union filed a grievance on behalf of CBP agents claiming that the CBP failed to notify and negotiate with it before issuing the Memo. The arbitrator found in favor of the Union and then the Authority set aside the arbitrator's award.The DC Circuit granted the Union's petition for review, holding that the Memo was arbitrary and capricious. In this case, the Authority failed to reasonably explain its departure from precedent and its conclusion that the Memo was not subject to bargaining under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Accordingly, the court remanded to the Authority for further proceedings. View "American Federation of Government Employees v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Attorney General of the United States in his official capacity as head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), alleging that the DOJ had denied her a promotion to a Division Director position because of her gender, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16, and her age, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 633a. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the DOJ.The DC Circuit held that a reasonable jury could find that the DOJ's proffered nondiscriminatory reason for denying plaintiff the promotion that she sought was pretextual and that discrimination was the real reason. In this case, a reasonable jury could find in plaintiff's favor based on her superior qualifications, the accumulated evidence of gender discrimination, and pretext. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Stoe v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Kiewit contested its OSHA citation, arguing that the quick-drenching provision in 41 C.F.R. 50-204.6(c), which requires quick-drenching eyewash facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials, was invalidly applied to the construction industry without notice-and-comment rulemaking. The ALJ and Commission agreed with Kiewit.After determining that it had jurisdiction over the petition for review, the DC Circuit denied Kiewit's motion for leave to add rebuttal arguments. On the merits, the court held that the Occupational Health and Safety Act is ambiguous regarding the Secretary's authority to apply established Federal standards to new industries under section 6(a). The court also held that the Secretary's interpretation of his section 6(a) authority is permissible and therefore owed deference by the Commission. Considering, among other factors, the OSH Act's stated purpose of expanding workplace protections and section 6(a)'s instruction that, in the event of conflict among any such standards, the Secretary shall promulgate the standard which assures the greatest protection of the safety or health of the affected employees, the court found that the Secretary's interpretation is consistent with the OSH Act and is therefore entitled to Chevron deference. View "Kiewit Power Constructors Co. v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against George Washington University, alleging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation and discriminating against her because of her illness. Plaintiff also alleged retaliation and interference claims under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Less than a year after plaintiff underwent treatment for cancer while working as a psychiatry resident at the George Washington University Hospital, she was terminated based on documented instances of unprofessionalism and deficient performance.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the University on all claims. The court held that plaintiff failed to request an accommodation under the ADA, choosing to seek leave under the FMLA. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to identify evidence allowing a reasonable jury to conclude that her employer discriminated against her because of her disability. The court also held that plaintiff failed to rebut the University's legitimate justifications for its actions. Therefore, plaintiff's interference and retaliation claims under the FMLA likewise failed. View "Waggel v. George Washington University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former employee of the FAA, filed suit against the Secretary of Transportation for unlawful retaliation and discrimination, and the Secretary of Transportation and the Department of Labor for violation of her First Amendment right to run for office without penalty. In this case, after she ran for elective office, her full disability benefits were reduced.The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, holding that plaintiff alleged her FAA retaliation claim almost fifteen years after her protected activity and thus the lack of temporal proximity did not support an inference of causation. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Rehabilitation Act or Title VII, because she is neither an employee nor an applicant. Finally, OWCP's determination that plaintiff had demonstrated an ability to run for elective office, and thus disproving her doctor's contention that she was permanently disabled and would be unable to work again in any capacity, did not violate the First Amendment. View "Pueschel v. Chao" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, claiming that Mastro's deprived him and other servers of a minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the District of Columbia's Minimum Wage Revision Act.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Mastro's motion to compel arbitration, holding that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that plaintiff was unaware of the arbitration agreement during the course of his work at Mastro's, and that he therefore had no reason to believe his continued employment could be seen as an intent to be bound by the agreement. The court held that the district judge, in a comprehensive opinion, correctly treated Mastro's motion as if it sought summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) with respect to the question whether plaintiff had agreed to arbitrate. In this case, Mastro's was unable to produce a copy of an arbitration agreement bearing plaintiff's signature, or any other direct evidence of his assent to be bound by the policy. Furthermore, nothing in the record negates plaintiff's sworn declaration that he was unaware of the agreement's existence and had no reason to believe he had relinquished his right to a trial. View "Camara v. Mastro's Restaurants LLC" on Justia 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