Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Saybolt LP, a petroleum products company, used the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method to calculate overtime compensation for some of its oil and gas inspectors who worked radically varying hours each week. Plaintiffs, oil and gas inspectors, filed suit against Saybolt, alleging that the incentive payments precluded use of the FWW method and placed their employer in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Fifth Circuit held that Saybolt failed to comply with the FWW method, and thus its use of that method to calculate the FWW inspectors' overtime premiums was erroneous; plaintiffs have not created an issue of disputed fact regarding Saybolt's willfulness; the district court erred in holding that Saybolt was judicially estopped from challenging plaintiffs' damages model; plaintiffs were entitled to an award of one and one-half times the "regular rate" instead of using the one-half multiplier that Saybolt claimed was appropriate; and the district court erred in adopting plaintiffs' damages methodology. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Dacar v. Saybolt L.P." on Justia Law

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A Louisiana charter school did not qualify for the "political subdivision" exemption of the National Labor Relations Act and was therefore subject to the Act. In this case, petitioners challenged the NLRB's finding that petitioners, Louisiana charter school operators, committed an unfair labor practice and ordered it to recognize and bargain with the union. The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that petitioners, like most other privately controlled employers, was subject to the Act because Louisiana chose to insulate its charters from the political process. View "Voices for International Business and Education, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to LRS in an action filed by plaintiff alleging that she was denied a promotion because of her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court held that it was undisputed that plaintiff established a prima facie case of employment discrimination, but LRS asserted a justification that was not pretextual. In this case, there was no evidence in the record of any discrimination in the promotion decision. The court explained that any difference in qualifications between the two candidates did not create a genuine issue of fact that plaintiff was clearly better qualified for the district supervisor position. The choice to value the other candidate's credentials over plaintiff's strengths was within the realm of reasonable business judgments. View "Roberson-King v. Louisiana Workforce Commission" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit dismissed a petition for review challenging a ruling by the Benefits Review Board in a proceeding in which petitioner sought benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). The court held that petitioner received substantial sums from a settlement with and judgment against third parties and that the required notice of the settlement was not given. Therefore, he was not entitled to benefits under the LHWCA. View "Parfait v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Southwest in an action filed by plaintiff under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), alleging claims of interference and retaliation. The court held that the district court correctly determined that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she provided the required notice to her employer to sustain her FMLA claims. Even if plaintiff had made a prima facie showing for her FMLA interference claim, she was still required, and failed, to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Southwest's proffered nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her employment was merely pretextual. View "DeVoss v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that his discharge by a VA hospital and its employees intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him and tortiously interfered with his business relationships. The court held that the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) preempted plaintiff's FTCA tort claims relating to his discharge for alleged whistleblowing. Therefore, plaintiff could not bring his claim for lack of jurisdiction. View "Griener v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, an African-American man, who claimed violation of his constitutional right to equal protection of the law. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that defendants, each mayors of the City of Naples at times when plaintiff was employed by the city, paid two specific white employees at a higher rate than he was paid. The court held that plaintiff failed to show a violation of his constitutional rights where there was no genuine dispute that plaintiff's job was not nearly identical to that of his proffered comparators. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to enter judgment for defendants. View "Mitchell v. Mills" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied In-N-Out's petition for review of the Board's order finding that the company's rule prohibiting employees from wearing any type of pin or stickers on their uniforms was unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act. In this case, employees of the In-N-Out Burger in Austin wore buttons demonstrating solidarity with the "Fight for $15" campaign and managers responded by invoking the company rule. The court held that, by prohibiting employees from wearing any type of pin or stickers, In-N-Out's rule restricted its employees' section 7 rights and was therefore presumptively unlawful. The court upheld the Board's reasonable conclusion that In-N-Out failed to establish a special circumstances defense based on its public image interest. Finally, the court held that the company violated section 8(a)(1) by maintaining and enforcing the rule and by instructing an employee to remove his button, and when it responded to an employee's question about wearing the button by stating that the button was not part of the uniform. Accordingly, the court granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "In-N-Out Burger, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a nursing assistant, filed suit under Title VII against her employer after she was terminated in part for refusing to care for an aggressive patient in a nursing home. At issue on appeal were plaintiff's claims of hostile work environment and retaliation. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer and held that the hostile work environment claim could proceed to trial where a jury could conclude that an objectively reasonable caregiver would not expect a patient to grope her daily, injure her so badly she could not work for three months, and have her complaints met with laughter and dismissal by the administration. Furthermore, the employer knew or should have known of the hostile work environment and should have taken reasonable measures to try to abate it. The court also held that the retaliation claim could proceed to trial where there was a triable issue on the "but for" causation element. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, LLC" on Justia Law

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Davis filed a complaint with the Fort Bend County Human Resources Department alleging that a director had sexually harassed and assaulted her. An investigation led to the director’s resignation. According to Davis, her supervisor retaliated because the director was a personal friend of Davis's supervisor. Davis informed her supervisor that she could not work one specific Sunday because she had a "commitment” to attend a special church service. Her supervisor did not approve the absence. Davis attended the service and did not report to work. Fort Bend terminated her employment. Davis filed a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission then filed suit under Title VII. The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on her retaliation claim but reversed on her religious discrimination claim, finding genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Davis held a bona fide religious belief that she needed to attend the service and Fort Bend would have suffered an undue hardship in accommodating Davis’s religious observance. The Supreme Court denied Fort Bend’s petition for certiorari. On remand, Fort Bend argued—for the first time— that Davis had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Holding that administrative exhaustion is a jurisdictional prerequisite in Title VII cases, the district court found Davis’s contention that Fort Bend had waived this argument “irrelevant.” The Fifth Circuit again reversed. Title VII’s administrative exhaustion requirement is not a jurisdictional bar but rather a prudential prerequisite and Fort Bend forfeited the argument. View "Davis v. Fort Bend County" on Justia Law