Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint seeking to invalidate a Maine statute that governs collective bargaining between the state's university system and its faculty on the ground that the statute violates the First Amendment, holding that the statute is not unconstitutional. Plaintiff, an economics professor at the University of Maine at Machias, brought this action challenging the University of Maine System Labor Relations Act, Me. Stat. tit. 26. 1021-1037. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's suit under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 1025(2)(E) is not properly read to designate the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine as Plaintiff's personal representative, as he argued; and (2) the Supreme Court's decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984), which the Court cited favorably in response to a similar challenge in D'Agostino v. Baker, 812 F.3d 240, disposes of Plaintiff's contention that the distinction between having a union represent a bargaining unit as an entity in collective bargaining and having it represent the employees within the unit individually is immaterial. View "Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine" on Justia Law

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In this federal whistleblower case, the First Circuit granted Petitioner's petition for review of the determination of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) dismissing Petitioner's Individual Right of Action appeal under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(3), holding for the first time in this circuit that the WPA only requires that a complainant include sufficient factual basis to enable an agency to investigate. Petitioner alleged that his supervisors retaliated against him because he delivered a document to a colleague that the colleague later used to support his own whistleblower case against the agency. Before the MSPB, Petitioner argued (1) he suffered reprisal for "lawfully assisting" the coworker in the coworker's exercise of his rights under the WPA, and (2) even if he did not engage in a protected activity, he was perceived by the agency and his supervisors to have done so and, as a result, suffered reprisal. The MSPB concluded that Petitioner's actions had been too minimal to constitute actual assistance under the WPA and that Petitioner had failed to exhaust his perceived assistance claim. The First Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Petitioner satisfied the WPA's exhaustion requirement as to his perceived assistance claim. View "Mount v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claim regarding the termination of Plaintiff's employment, holding that the totality of the circumstances showed a lack of foundation for Plaintiff's pretextual argument. In granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment, the district court determined that the evidence did not support Plaintiff's argument that Defendant's articulated reason for terminating Plaintiff's employment was pretextual, let alone a pretext for age discrimination. The First Circuit affirmed, holding the district court did not misapply the summary judgment standard or err in holding that no reasonable fact-finder could determine that Defendant's reasons for terminating Plaintiff were pretextual. View "Rodriguez-Cardi v. MMM Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of Appellant's sexual harassment claims based on a hostile work environment, holding that the district court erred in concluding that alleged incidents of harassment that occurred earlier than 2014 were time-barred and that the error contributed to other flaws in the court's analysis. Appellant brought this action claiming sexual harassment and retaliation under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Puerto Rico Commonwealth law. Defendant asserted that he was sexually harassed for more than a decade and thus subjected to a hostile work environment and that managers at his workplace retaliated against him for complaining about this treatment. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on all claims. The First Circuit remanded the case, holding (1) the district court did not err in dismissing the retaliation claims; but (2) a jury could reasonably find that incidents that allegedly occurred in 2014 were instances within the limitations period of a claimed pattern of sexually charged interactions, and the court's statute-of-limitations error necessarily impacted its assessment of the hostile work environment claim. View "Nieves-Borges v. El Conquistador Partnership, L.P." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court finding that Local 402 never requested to appeal its deactivation to the International Executive Board (IEB) and that it failed to prove that it was deactivated in retaliation for having exercised its free-speech rights, holding that Local 402 did request an appeal to the IEB. Local 402, which was an affiliate of Council 93, which was created by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represented Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) employees in Waltham, Massachusetts. In 2017, Local 402 was deactivated. Local 402 later filed suit against Council 93 and AFSCME alleging three claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Local 402 for one count but ruled in favor of Council 93 as to the remaining counts. Local 402 filed a notice of appeal, but the district court held that Local 402 did not preserve its appeal rights. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Local 402 exercised its right to appeal to the IEB. View "Conille v. AFSCME, Council 93" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of the Steward Holy Family Hospital and vacating an award entered by an arbitrator regarding a dispute between the Hospital and the union of one of the Hospital's former nurses, Maureen Bean, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority under the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA). After Hospital terminated Bean her union (Union) initiated grievance procedures, arguing that there was not just cause for her termination under the CBA. The arbitrator established that Bean had engaged in misconduct providing just cause for discipline but nevertheless concluded that Bean's termination was unwarranted and ordered her reinstatement. The Hospital bought this action to vacate the award. The district court concluded that the arbitrator exceeded his authority under the CBA. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed the scope of his authority in ordering a lesser form of discipline in accordance with the CBA and the Hospital's own disciplinary policies. View "Steward Holy Family Hospital, Inc. v. Massachusetts Nurses Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, a food services and facilities company, in three individual cases brought by employees of the company, holding that Plaintiffs' individual claims alleging violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act failed. Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendant for alleged violations of the Massachusetts Tips Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 152A, and then moved for class certification. The district court denied the motion for lack of sufficient commonality and typicality. Three individual plaintiffs' cases proceeded to summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant's actions were protected under the safe harbor provision of the Tips Act. The First Circuit affirmed the entry of summary judgment without reaching the merits of the class certification issue, holding that Plaintiffs' claims did not warrant relief. View "Lazo v. Sodexo, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this action to recover what were alleged to be unpaid overtime wages the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Employer's sleep-time policy was unlawful and awarding back wages and treble damages to Plaintiffs, holding that there was no error in the district court's judgment. This action was brought as a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., collective action and as an individual action under analogous Maine labor laws. Under its sleep-time policy, Employer did not pay employees like plaintiff David Giguere for eight hours each night even though its employees were no duty during that time. The district court found that the policy was unlawful and awarded back wages to the collective action plaintiffs and treble damages to Giguere. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Employer's sleep-time policy violated the FLSA; and (2) the district court properly awarded Giguere treble damages as a remedy for Employer's Wages Act violation. View "Giguere v. Port Resources Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment after treating the motion as a motion to dismiss pursuant too Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the district court applied the wrong legal standard in adjudicating Defendants' summary judgment motion. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that his employer had discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin and subjected him to retaliation. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court considered the motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a plausible claim and granted the motion. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court's attempt to transform Defendants' fully developed motion for summary judgment into a motion to dismiss was an abuse of discretion. View "Rios-Campbell v. U.S. Department of Commerce" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Canada for lack of jurisdiction after concluding that Canada was immune from the suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602 et seq., holding that the FSIA did not prohibit Plaintiff's suit. Plaintiff, who was injured in the course of her employment at the Canadian consulate in Boston, Massachusetts, sued Canada for damages in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Act, Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 152. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not barred by FSIA. View "Merlini v. Canada" on Justia Law