Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Ministeri v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of an employee's widow in this insurance dispute, holding that the employee did not lose life insurance coverage under his employer's group policy after he developed a brain tumor that disrupted his usual work.Plaintiff, the employee's widow, submitted a statement to Insurer claiming approximately $1 under her late husband's life insurance policy. Insurer denied the claim. Plaintiff then sued, alleging wrongful denial of benefits under section 502(a) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), (a)(3). The insurance company denied life insurance coverage on the grounds that the employee's coverage under the policy had lapsed. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because the policy language invoked by Insurer in this case was less than clear the rule that ambiguous terms in an insurance policy should be read in favor of coverage applied; and (2) the employee was covered at the time of his demise. View "Ministeri v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Gonpo v. Sonam’s Stonewalls & Art, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendants liable for failing to pay all of the wages owed to Plaintiff, their former employee, holding that there was no error in the district court's evidentiary decisions.On appeal, Defendants argued that the district court erred in excluding evidence that Plaintiff was accused of rape just months before he began to pursue the wage claims at issue and that the district court erred in admitting testimony, along with documentary evidence, from one of Plaintiff's former colleagues. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the challenged evidentiary decisions at issue - one to exclude evidence and the other to admit evidence - were proper and did not require remand for a new trial. View "Gonpo v. Sonam's Stonewalls & Art, LLC" on Justia Law
Baker v. Smith & Wesson, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's whistleblower retaliation claim brought under section 1514A of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, holding that Plaintiff could not satisfy his burden of bringing a claim for whistleblower retaliation under section 18 U.S.C. 1514A.Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, sued Defendant for whistleblower retaliation under section 1514A, but his particular whistleblower claim was based on an alleged violation of 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(2), (5). Defendant moved for summary judgment following the completion of discovery, arguing that Plaintiff's action did not fall within any of the definitions of protected activity under section 1514A. The district court denied the motion as to the whistleblower retaliation claim. The First Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Defendant, holding that Plaintiff's conduct was not "protected activity" under section 1514A. View "Baker v. Smith & Wesson, Inc." on Justia Law
United Steelworkers v. National Grid
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court denying arbitration requested by two unions - the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union and the United Steelworkers Local 12203 (collectively, Union) - on behalf of former two employees of the Boston Gas Company (Company) as to their claims for pension benefits, holding that this matter called for arbitration.The Union represented the two members in filing grievances regarding their underpaid pensions. The Union submitted the grievances to the Joint Pension Committee, which was unable to resolve the dispute. The Union subsequently sought arbitration over the grievances, but the Company refused to arbitrate. The First Circuit reversed, holding that it was up to an arbitrator, not a court, to determine the matters at issue in this case. View "United Steelworkers v. National Grid" on Justia Law
Frith v. Whole Foods Market, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' lawsuit asserting race-based discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the suit for failure to state a claim.Plaintiffs represented a putative class of employees employed by Whole Foods and Amazon who were disciplined for wearing face masks with the message "Black Lives Matter." In their lawsuit, Plaintiffs alleged that the manner in which their employers enforced a previously unenforced dress code policy constituted race-based discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court dismissed all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs did not adequately plead claims for racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII. View "Frith v. Whole Foods Market, Inc." on Justia Law
Viscito v. National Planning Corp.
The First Circuit affirmed the entry of final judgment entered in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's wage and employment misclassification claims, holding that the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148 (MWA), did not apply to the undisputed facts in this case.Plaintiff, a Florida-based financial planner with a Massachusetts-based financial services company and office, sued his former broker-dealer in a Massachusetts federal district court alleging that Defendant had misclassified him as an independent contractor instead of an employee in violation of Massachusetts law. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law and granted Defendants' motion in its entirety. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that the MWA did not apply to Plaintiff's employment relationship with Defendant. View "Viscito v. National Planning Corp." on Justia Law
Together Employees v. Mass General Brigham Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying motion for a preliminary injunction sought by Appellants, then-employees of Mass General Brigham, Inc. (MGB), to stop their employer's application of its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy to them, holding that the district court did not err.In November 2021, Appellants bought this action. The district court denied a preliminary injunction. Appellants then noticed an appeal and also sought emergency injunctive relief from the First Circuit. The First Circuit held that they had not met the requirements for an injunction pending appeal. Now that the merits of Appellants' appeal were before the Court, the First Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction, holding that the district court correctly denied relief. View "Together Employees v. Mass General Brigham Inc." on Justia Law
Confederacion Hipica de Puerto Rico v. Confederacion de Jinetes Puertorriqueños, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment against a group of jockeys who demanded higher wages and refused to rice and vacated the orders permanently enjoining the work stoppage and imposing $1,190,685 in damages, holding that the district court erred in granting Plaintiffs an injunction and summary judgment.Plaintiffs, an association of horse owners and the owner of a racetrack, brought this action against the jockeys and their spouses who refused to race, alleging that Defendants engaged in a group boycott in violation of federal antitrust law. The district court granted an injunction, concluding (1) the jockeys were independent contractors and had acted in concert to restrain trade, and (2) the jockeys could not benefit from the labor-dispute exemption because of their independent contractor status. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the labor-dispute exemption applied in this case; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in granting Plaintiffs and injunction and summary judgment. View "Confederacion Hipica de Puerto Rico v. Confederacion de Jinetes Puertorriqueños, Inc." on Justia Law
Lahens v. AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, his former employer, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that Defendant terminated his employment because of his age and because he received a liver transplant, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging disability discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant and dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the evidence on the record did not support either Plaintiff's ADA claim or his ADEA claim. View "Lahens v. AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law
Forsythe v. Wayfair, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's federal and Massachusetts state law employment discrimination claims, holding that that court erred in granting summary judgment as to several of Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, an online home furnishings company with a principal place of business in Massachusetts, sued Defendant bringing claims under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 4.1, 4.4, and 4.4A. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on all claims. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly granted summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's state and federal claims for failing to remedy sexual harassment; and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Forsythe v. Wayfair, LLC" on Justia Law