Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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A party who complied with directly controlling Supreme Court precedent in collecting fair-share fees cannot be held liable for monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 to obtain repayment of fair-share union fees. The court held that, because defendants collected fair share fees in reliance on directly controlling Supreme Court precedent and then-valid state statutes, their reliance was objectively reasonable, and they are entitled to a good-faith defense as a matter of law. The court reviewed plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Wholean v. CSEA SEIU Local 2001" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for overtime pay under the New York Labor Law's (NYLL) overtime-pay provision.The court held that, although the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were ineligible for overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular wage, the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs were ineligible for any overtime pay under the NYLL. The court explained that a plain reading of the NYLL's overtime-pay provision demonstrates that employees subject to certain exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Motor Carrier Exemption, must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Class plaintiffs are seven named plaintiffs representing six putative classes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). Plaintiffs also filed suit on behalf of themselves and 516 individuals who opted in to a conditionally certified collective action (the "collective plaintiffs") under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Class plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle misclassified them as exempt employees in violation of the labor laws in six states, and collective plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle misclassified them as exempt employees in violation of the FLSA.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying class certification on the basis of a lack of predominance and superiority. While reasonable minds could disagree, on the record before the court, it could not say that the district court's factual findings were clearly erroneous or that its conclusion was outside the range of permissible decisions.However, the court vacated the district court's order decertifying the collective action, holding that the district court committed legal error by improperly analogizing the standard for maintaining a collective action under the FLSA to Rule 23 procedure, and relying on that improper analogy in concluding that named plaintiffs and opt-in plaintiffs are not "similarly situated." In this case, the district court committed legal error in employing the "sliding scale" analogy to Rule 23 as it improperly conflated section 216(b) with Rule 23 and that rule's more stringent requirements. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff's action against the Town, alleging that she was terminated from her employment based on age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The district court granted summary judgment on the sole ground that plaintiff had failed to make out a prima facie case of any adverse employment action, because she chose to retire rather than attend a scheduled disciplinary hearing.The court held that, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the evidence was sufficient to present genuine issues of fact as to whether a reasonable person in plaintiff's shoes would have felt compelled to retire. In this case, the district court failed to view evidence that the retirement was not voluntary because it was coerced by the threat of likely termination, and therefore plaintiff suffered a constructive-discharge adverse employment action. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Green v. Town of East Haven" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff's claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. 1981, alleging a discriminatory hostile work environment and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. In this case, defendant alleged that employees retaliated against him for reporting possible overcharging at his job and that employees made inflammatory remarks regarding his Egyptian heritage and his Coptic Christian religion. Plaintiff was terminated by Marriott shortly after a physical altercation with another employee.The court held that a hostile work environment claim does not require a plaintiff to show that he or she had been physically threatened by the defendant or that his or her work performance has suffered as a result of the claimed hostile work environment; discriminatory conduct not directly targeted at the plaintiff can contribute to an actionable hostile work environment; and dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim by summary judgment was improper because plaintiff's submission in opposition to the motion presented disputed issues of material fact that should be resolved by a jury. View "Rasmy v. Marriott International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act.The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in a wage-and-hour practices and policies action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New York Labor Law, the New York Business General Business Law, and 26 U.S.C. 7434. The district court treated defendants' opposition to plaintiffs' motion for conditional collective certification as a cross‐motion for summary judgment as to plaintiffs, and as a motion to dismiss without prejudice as to putative opt-in plaintiffs.The court held that plaintiffs had reason to recognize the motion could be converted into one for summary judgment and that the district court appropriately applied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(B), dismissing the complaint based on plaintiffs' two prior voluntary dismissals in New York State court and in the Eastern District of New York. The court considered plaintiffs' remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Lin v. Shanghai City Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's summary judgment award in favor of his former employer in an action alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), impairment and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At issue on appeal was plaintiff's ADA claim.The Second Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 did not alter or erode its well‐settled understanding that the inability to perform a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working. In this case, because plaintiff did not attempt to show that his work-induced impairment substantially limited his ability to work in a class or broad range of jobs, the court held that no reasonable factfinder could conclude that plaintiff has a "disability" within the meaning of the ADA. View "Woolf v. Strada" on Justia Law

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When a district court concludes that a proposed settlement in a Fair Labor Standards Act case is unreasonable in whole or in part, it cannot simply rewrite the agreement, but it must instead reject the agreement or provide the parties an opportunity to revise.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's approval of a settlement agreement in an FLSA case where the district court modified the agreement by increasing the portion of the settlement funds to be paid to plaintiff while reducing attorneysʹ fees and costs to be paid to his counsel. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in rewriting the settlement agreement by modifying the allotment of the settlement funds. Furthermore, the district court erred in concluding that the maximum fee percentage that plaintiff's counsel may retain in an FLSA suit is generally limited to 33% of the total settlement amount. Therefore, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Fisher v. SD Protection Inc." on Justia Law

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The Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) does not prevent employers from requesting reasonable documentation to assure themselves that employees' absences are legitimate. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of MTA's motion for summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiff's claims for failure to establish a prima facie case of retaliation under the FRSA. Plaintiff, a locomotive engineer, alleged that MTA was liable for disciplinary action against him when he failed to report to work while under the influence of a prescribed narcotic.The court held that there was no reason to conclude that the FRSA precludes employers from implementing standard policies reasonably designed to verify employees' appropriate use of medical leave. In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his absences, when unaccompanied by SLA-28 forms, were protected activity, as directly required by element (i), and indirectly by (ii) and (iv). View "Lockhart v. MTA Long Island Railroad" on Justia Law