Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s claim that Defendants conspired against him and violated the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 11H, 11I by depriving him of his protected property right of continued employment with the Salisbury Police Department (SPD), holding that summary judgment was properly granted. In 2010, Cornelius Harrington, the Salisbury town manager, hired Robert St. Pierre to investigate allegations of misconduct by the then-police chief. During the investigation, St. Pierre uncovered evidence of alleged wrongdoing by Plaintiff, an officer at the SPD. After a follow-up investigation, Harrington terminated Plaintiff from his employment. An arbitrator later reversed that decision. Plaintiff retired soon after and filed this lawsuit against Harrington and St. Pierre. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper where Plaintiff offered little evidence beyond bald speculation for the existence of a conspiracy and failed to show that his constitutional rights ere interfered with by “threats, intimidation, or coercion,” as required by the MCRA. View "Thomas v. Town of Salisbury" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to the City of Providence, Rhode Island (the City) as to Plaintiff’s complaint for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, and related state anti-discrimination laws, holding that the district court properly entered summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims. Following an injury that he sustained while on duty, Plaintiff, a veteran police officer in the City, sued the City for discrimination. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on all claims, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to establish that he was disabled within the meaning of the ADA and failed to show a cognizable disability as to his state-law claims. Although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, the First Circuit affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly entered on Plaintiff’s claims. View "Mancini v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in part ruling in favor of Putnam Investments, LLC and other fiduciaries of Putnam’s defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plan on Plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that Defendants breached fiduciary duties to the plan's participants, clarifying several principles for the district court that should guide its subsequent rulings on remand. Plaintiffs, two former Putnam employees who participated in the Plan, brought this lawsuit on behalf of a now-certified class of other participants in the Plan and on behalf of the Plan itself pursuant to the civil enforcement provision of ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(2), arguing that Defendants offered a range of mutual investments, including Putnam’s mutual funds, without regard to whether such funds were prudent investment options and that Defendants treated Plan participants worse than other investors in Putnam mutual funds. The district court ruled in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(a)(1)(C), breach of loyalty claim, and disgorgement claim; (2) vacated the court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(b)(3) and the finding that Plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show loss; and (3) remanded for further proceedings. View "Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Stephen Elliott on his suit against American Capital Energy, Inc. (ACE) and its two principals (collectively, Appellants) claiming breach of contract and violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act, holding that Ellicott’s compensation constituted “wages” under the Wage Act and that the statute of limitations for his Wage Act claim was properly tolled. Elliott filed suit against Appellants seeking compensation for unpaid sales commissions. The jury found all three Appellants liable under the Wage Act and ACE liable for breach of contract. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the jury could reasonably conclude that Ellicott’s sales commissions constituted wages under the Wage Act; (2) tolling the statute of limitations so as to allow Ellicott’s Wage Act claims against one of the principals was justified; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Ellicott’s motions in limine excluding evidence about whether Elliott had agreed to split his sales commissions. View "Ellicott v. American Capital Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to MVM, Inc. as to a former employee’s claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000, et seq., and related Puerto Rico laws, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment as to these claims. Plaintiff, a former employee of MVM, Inc., brought a variety of federal and Puerto Rico law claims against MVM and other defendants. After dismissing several of Plaintiff’s claims, the district court granted summary judgment to MVM as to the remainder. The First Circuit affirmed the summary judgment ruling, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to MVM on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, Plaintiff’s claim under Title VII that MVM had unlawfully subjected her to disparate treatment because of her gender, and Plaintiff’s claim under Title VII for retaliation. View "Bonilla-Ramirez v. MVM, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 57 (RSU 57) on Charlene Richard’s claims that RSU 57 violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, Maine Human Rights Act, and Maine Whistleblower Protection Act, holding that there was no clear error in the district court’s findings. Richard, a former kindergarten teacher at Waterboro Elementary School, claimed that RSU 57 retaliated against her for her advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities. The district court concluded that Richard had not met her burden of proving that her advocacy had actually prompted the adverse actions against her and entered judgment for RSU 57. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not improperly require Richard to present evidence of causation beyond that which supported her prima facie case; and (2) Richard’s remaining arguments were similarly unavailing. View "Richard v. Regional School Unit 57" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s retaliation claims as pertains to a handful of the original defendants in this case, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies in bringing her Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), 18 U.S.C. 1514A, claim to federal court. Plaintiff filed a complaint under SOX with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that she was retaliated against through termination in violation of SOX’s whistleblower protection provision. In the federal courts, the district court concluded that Plaintiff’s OSHA complaint was untimely and thus dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s OSHA complaint was filed outside the requisite timeframe, and Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff’s complaint failed to plead sufficient facts to raise a plausible claim for relief under SOX. View "Newman v. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Plaintiff, a faculty member, on her claim of retaliation under Title VII and the Maine Human Rights Act against Defendant, the university that employed her, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the university retaliated against her after she complained about sexual harassment by her department chair and supervisor. The alleged retaliatory acts included Plaintiff’s transfer to a new department after obtaining her consent to transfer by making misrepresentations about how the transfer would affect her professional responsibilities. The First Circuit remanded the case, holding that summary judgment was improper because there were genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Defendant misled Plaintiff into transferring departments and as to whether Plaintiff’s transfer was the true reason for her change in teaching assignments. View "Carlson v. University of New England" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Medina & Medina, Inc. in this employment discrimination lawsuit, holding that summary judgment was properly granted as to Plaintiff’s discriminatory wage disparity claims and gender-based hostile work environment claims but improperly granted as to Plaintiff’s federal and Puerto Rico age-based hostile work environment claims and retaliation claims. The district court held that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment as to any of her claims. The First Circuit held (1) based on the evidence proffered by both parties, summary judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff’s discriminatory wage disparity and and gender-based hostile work environment claims; (2) where Plaintiff produced evidence that she was taunted about her age nearly every single day for over two years, summary judgment was not appropriate as to Plaintiff’s age-based hostile work environment claim; (3) there was a genuine issue of fact that precluded summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims of retaliation; and (4) Plaintiff’s supplemental claims brought pursuant to Puerto Rico law were properly disposed of upon summary judgment. View "Rivera-Rivera v. Medina & Medina, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order granting summary judgment to Stericycle of Puerto Rico and other defendants on Plaintiff’s claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and dismissing without prejudice Plaintiff’s related Puerto Rico law claims, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not err in holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Title VII claim for gender-based disparate treatment; (2) correctly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Title VII claim for retaliation; and (3) did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motion to strike Defendants’ motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. View "Micheo-Acevedo v. Stericycle of Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law