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

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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In this vaccination dispute, the First Circuit denied the motion brought by Appellants seeking an injunction pending appeal, holding that Appellants were not entitled to the injunction.Appellants, eight employees of Mass General Brigham, Inc. (MGB), challenged MGB's application of its mandatory vaccination policy to them individually. The policy was issued in June 2021 requiring all MGB employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualified for a medical or religious exemption. After Appellants' requests for exemptions were denied and they still refused to get vaccinated, MGB placed them on unpaid leave. Appellants sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that MGB unlawfully denied their individual exemption requests. The district court denied Appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have required Appellants' reinstatement from unpaid leave status. The First Circuit denied Appellants' motion for injunction pending appeal, holding that adequate legal remedies foreclosed injunctive relief. View "Together Employees v. Mass General Brigham Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court denying Lyft Inc.'s request to compel arbitration in this purported class action but affirmed the denials of preliminary injunctive relief, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applied.Plaintiffs were Massachusetts-based rideshare drivers who used the Lyft application and platform to find passengers. In their complaint, Plaintiffs claimed that Lyft misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees. At issue on this appeal were rulings concerning Plaintiffs' requests for preliminary injunctive relief and the denial of Lyft's request to compel arbitration. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) the FAA applies in this case; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Plaintiffs' requested injunction. View "Cunningham v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court ordering that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim be dismissed for failure to state a plausible claim and granting summary judgment for Defendants on all remaining counts, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff sued the City of East Providence, Rhode Island, its School Department, and the School Superintendent, asserting claims arising from what she alleged were unlawful discriminatory employment actions taken against her. The First Circuit resolved all claims in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to plead even a prima facie case of discrimination; and (2) Plaintiff's claim of retaliatory employment discrimination was not supported by admissible evidence that would warrant putting the case to a jury. View "Lima v. City of East Providence" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the rulings of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's claims alleging that his termination violated 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, holding that there was no merit to Plaintiff's challenges on appeal.On appeal, Plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant on his Title VII retaliation claim, its dismissal of Plaintiff's Title VII hostile work environment claims for his failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and its denial of Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint to add a claim of disability discrimination. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the retaliation claim, its dismissal of the hostile work environment claim, and its denial of Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint. View "Jenkins v. Housing Court Department" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in this action alleging disability discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act and retaliation under the Maine Whistleblower Protection Act and the Maine Human Rights Act, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiff, a former Wal-Mart employee, brought this action against Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., alleging disability discrimination and retaliation under Maine state law. After the case was removed to federal district court the district court issued an order granting summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) there were genuine issues of material facts preventing summary judgment on Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim; and (2) the district court erred in concluding that none of the actions Plaintiff raised, if considered as protective activity, were causally connected to her termination. View "Benson v. Wal-Mart Stores East L.P." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court summarily affirming an arbitration award dismissing Union Interacional UAW, Local 2415's wage grievance claim against Bacardi Corporation, holding that the Union did not identify an error in the arbitration award so egregious as to permit this Court to vacate it.The arbitrator found that the Union's claim was not procedurally arbitrable because the Union failed to comply with the contractual wage grievance procedure. On appeal, the Union argued that either the arbitrator should have deemed the procedural arbitrability defect waived or that the procedural defect did not justify dismissing the entire claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, while the Union's waiver arguments had merit, the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority in dismissing the entire claim for lack of procedural arbitrability. View "Union Internacional, UAW Local 2415 v. Bacardi Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:03, holding that the outcome of this appeal depended upon a question of Massachusetts law, upon which the Massachusetts courts have not spoken.Plaintiffs, owners of 7-Eleven franchise operated in Massachusetts, alleged that 7-Eleven misclassified them was independent contractors rather than employees, in violation of Massachusetts law. At issue was a conflict between the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law (ICL), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148B, and the Federal Trade Commission's Franchise Rule making it allegedly impossible for 7-Eleven to satisfy federal law. The district court held that, due to this conflict, the ICL did not apply and therefore, its franchisees were properly classified as independent contractors. The First Circuit certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding the issue and retained jurisdiction pending resolution of the certified question. View "Patel v. 7-Eleven, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's suit brought against Defendant, his employer, asserting claims of age-based discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Puerto Rico's statutory analog, holding that this Court will not adopt any version of the single filing rule that would excuse the procedural failings associated with Plaintiff's suit.In moving to dismiss the complaint, Defendant asserted that Plaintiff neglected to first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and therefore failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. Plaintiff argued in response that the district court should adopt and apply the "single filing rule," otherwise known as the "piggyback rule," which would allow him to vicariously satisfy his exhaustion obligation by relying upon a timely-filed administrative complaint against his employer made by a similarly-situated plaintiff. The district court declined to adopt the single filing rule, dismissed Plaintiff's ADEA claims, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his Puerto Rico law claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the complaint. View "Perez-Abreu v. Metropol Hato Rey LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings holding that this case came within the jurisdictional reach of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and that the district court did not err either in denying Plaintiff's motion to remand or in granting judgment for the pleadings for Defendant.Plaintiff, an employee of Defendant, brought this action in a Massachusetts state court asserting violations of the Commonwealth's labor laws. Plaintiff sought recovery of compensation for unpaid wages and expenses, unpaid overtime, and damages for Defendant's alleged failure to account for her travel time and to maintain required payroll records. Defendant removed the suit to federal district court. Plaintiff moved to remand the case, arguing that her claims arose exclusively under state law. The district court denied the remand motion and subsequently granted Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. View "Rose v. RTN Federal Credit Union" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this case alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment.Plaintiff, who was Black, sued Bridgewater State university's Board of Trustees and Office of Equal Opportunity and a University administrator (collectively, Defendants) alleging that she was not hired for a University position because of her race. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Plaintiff's aggregate package of proof sufficed to survive Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Taite v. Bridgewater State University" on Justia Law