Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's race discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. In this case, plaintiff was terminated from her position as deputy clerk with the City of Houston, Mississippi as part of a group of layoffs designed to offset the City's budget shortfall. The court held that plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of material fact that her race was a motivating factor in her termination or that there was a causal connection between her EEOC complaint and that termination. View "Harville v. City of Houston" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer in an action brought by plaintiff, a former employee, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The court held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding the employer's reason for firing him. Although the parties agreed that plaintiff made a prima face case of employment discrimination, the court held that the employer provided a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing plaintiff: a broad reduction in force. The court also held that plaintiff failed to show that the employer's reason for firing him was pretextual. In this case, no evidence showed that age was a factor in any of the employer's firing decisions. View "McMichael v. Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendant, the newly elected district attorney, fired them because they supported his political opponent. The district court denied defendant qualified immunity on the individual and official capacity claims. The Fifth Circuit held that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as to four of the plaintiffs and reversed based on defendant's qualified immunity. However, in regard to the individual capacity claims, the court held that genuine disputes of material fact exist as to whether Cazares, Palmira Munoz, and Maldonado were policymakers or confidential employees. Accordingly, the court dismissed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Maldonado v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Texas filed suit against the EEOC and the Attorney General, challenging the EEOC's guidance on employers' use of criminal records in hiring. On remand, the district court dismissed Texas's claim under the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA), but enjoined defendants from enforcing EEOC's guidance against Texas until EEOC complied with the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The Fifth Circuit held that the Guidance was a reviewable final agency action that the court had jurisdiction to review. Furthermore, Texas had standing to sue EEOC and the Attorney General to challenge the legality of the Guidance. On the merits, the court held that the Guidance was a substantive rule subject to the APA's notice-and-comment requirement and that EEOC overstepped its statutory authority in issuing the Guidance. Because the Guidance is a substantive rule, and the text of Title VII and precedent confirmed that EEOC lacked authority to promulgate substantive rules implementing Title VII, the court modified the injunction by striking the clause "until the EEOC has complied with the notice and comment requirements under the APA for promulgating an enforceable substantive rule." The court also modified the injunction to clarify that EEOC and the Attorney General may not treat the Guidance as binding in any respect. Therefore, the court affirmed the injunction as modified and declined to consider the DJA claim. View "Texas v. EEOC" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Small Business Development Center is not a juridical entity capable of being sued under federal law for alleged age discrimination. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by plaintiff against the Center, alleging that she was fired because of age discrimination. The court held that plaintiff failed to state a claim and that the proper party to name as a defendant would have been the Board of Supervisors. However, the Board of Supervisors is an arm of the state entitled to state sovereign immunity against claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. View "Edmiston v. LA Small Business Development Center" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied Wood Group's petition for review of the Board's conclusion that Wood Group's employee satisfied the situs and status requirements for coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. In this case, the employee was injured while unloading a vessel on a platform customarily used for that task. The court held that the Board correctly applied the plain language of the Act and affirmed its conclusion that the employee met the situs requirement. Furthermore, because the employee's injury occurred when he was loading/unloading a vessel, and because he regularly loaded/unloaded vessels, the status requirement was satisfied. View "Wood Group Production Services v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, on summary judgment, of plaintiff's claims of interference and retaliation in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The court held that SCS had a good-faith reason for plaintiff's termination. In this case, SCS adhered to company policy in firing plaintiff after he had refused to conduct himself professionally and had delayed reporting a safety concern. View "Tatum v. Southern Company Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff's position was eliminated, he filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the county, alleging a First Amendment retaliation claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the county's motions for summary judgment, judgment as a matter of law, and new trial. The court held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine was inapplicable; plaintiff's claim was not judicially estopped based on his response in his unemployment application; and plaintiff's failure to appeal the Board's decision in state court did not preclude his First Amendment claim under section 1983. The court also held that plaintiff's position was not a policymaking position, and the jury's verdict in favor of plaintiff was supported by sufficient evidence. In this case, there was evidence that at least three of the five board members had retaliatory motive, and the evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury's verdict. View "Griggs v. Chickasaw County" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied Southern Hens' petition for review of the ALJ's determination that the poultry processing plant committed two violations of occupational safety standards after an employee suffered a serious injury when her hand got caught in a machine's moving parts. The court upheld the ALJ's decision with regard to the lockout violation because Southern Hens lacked the sort of established work rule required for the "unpreventable employee misconduct" defense; upheld that machine-guarding standard and adopted the reasonably predictable standard, holding that there was substantial evidence that employee injury from the hazard was reasonably predictable; and upheld the penalties for the lockout violation and the machine-guarding violation. View "Southern Hens, Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer on plaintiff's claims of discrimination based on age, disability, and national origin. The court held that an intake questionnaire, which does not contain a clear and concise statement of facts alleging unlawful employment practices, was insufficient to constitute a charge of discrimination. Therefore, plaintiff filed an untimely charge of discrimination which resulted in his failure to properly exhaust his administrative remedies. The court also held that equitable tolling did not apply in this case because plaintiff did not act with due diligence. View "Caycho Melgar v. T.B. Butler Publishing Co." on Justia Law