Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Unions represent engineers employed by the Railroad, which is an amalgamation of several carriers. As a result, the Railroad is a party to multiple collective bargaining Agreements (CBAs). The Railroad modified disciplinary rules; the new policy was set forth in “MAPS," and supplanted UPGRADE. The Railroad had previously made changes to UPGRADE over the Union’s objections. When it shifted from UPGRADE to MAPS it did not consult the Union. The Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151–88 allows employers to change “rates of pay, rules, or working conditions of ... employees” in any way permitted by an existing CBA or by going through the bargaining and negotiation procedure prescribed in section 156. MAPS falls within the scope of “rules” and “working conditions.” The Railroad argued that the change was permitted under the CBA. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Union’s suit. If a disagreement arises over the formation or amendment of a CBA, it is considered a “major” dispute under the Act, and it must be decided by a court. If it relates only to the interpretation or application of an existing agreement, it is labeled “minor” and must go to arbitration. In this case, there is at least a non-frivolous argument that interpretation of the agreement between the parties, not change, is at stake. View "Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Edwards owns a taxicab in Milwaukee and gets referrals from Yellow Cab. Edwards leased the cab to Giri, who subleased some of the time to Chapman so that the cab could be in service much of the day. Chapman received fares and tips, paid rent to Giri, and kept the difference; he did not pay or receive anything from Yellow Cab. Chapman argued, in his suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act that he was a Yellow Cab “employee” and that, after he complained about not receiving the minimum wage, Mohamed, Yellow Cab's President, told Giri that Chapman was “fired” (would not be dispatched to passengers calling Yellow Cab). Giri then terminated the sublease. Chapman argued that Mohamed’s action violated the Act’s anti-retaliation clause, 29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3). His suit was dismissed with prejudice. The judge stated that Chapman had not addressed all of the relevant factors. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While federal court plaintiffs need not plead all legal elements plus facts corresponding to each, Chapman’s claim was implausible because it did not allege any direct dealings between himself and Yellow Cab. When the court requested more, Chapman did not respond with a plausible claim. He failed to provide additional details, insisting that, because Yellow Cab affected his driving through the chain of leases, it must be his employer. View "Chapman v. Yellow Cab Cooperative" on Justia Law

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Golla, who has a law degree, alleged, under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1) and 42 U.S.C. 1983, that the Office of the Chief Judge engaged in intentional reverse racial discrimination by paying Taylor, an African‐American male, a significantly higher salary than Golla, a white male, despite working in the same department and performing the same duties under essentially the same title. Golla started working in the Office in 1983. He was fired in 1995 but reinstated 10 months after he filed a complaint with the EEOC. Under a settlement agreement, Golla was reinstated at a pay position and title, Law Clerk I, which he retained until he resigned in 2013. When asked during his deposition whether anyone in the workplace made racial comments toward him, Golla answered, "nothing direct racial." He claimed his African-American supervisor made comments that were demeaning. The district court rejected Golla’s claim, finding no direct evidence of reverse racial discrimination that resulted in the pay disparity and that Golla failed to establish a prima facie case of reverse racial discrimination under the indirect method of proof. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The evidence as a whole was insufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude that Golla was paid at a lower pay grade than Taylor because of his race View "Golla v. Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County" on Justia Law

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DT&C, a Chicago ground transportation company, and its owners were sued by former employees and the Secretary of Labor for violating state wage‐payment laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201. After the defendants ignored court orders, the district judges entered default judgments for the plaintiffs. Eleven months later, the defendants moved to vacate both judgments, FRCP 60(b), arguing that the company had closed in 2015 and no longer received mail at the office address and that one of the owners was in poor health so that he did not keep in contact with the lawyer. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of the motions. Because the defendants did not show good cause for the default, did not act quickly in filing motions to vacate, and failed to articulate any meritorious defenses, the district judges did not abuse their discretion. The default was the result of “inattention to the litigation” rather than illness, and the defendants had not shown that they had a legitimate defense. View "Krantz v. DT & C Global Management LLC" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Department of Human Services Home Services Program pays personal home health care assistants to care for elderly and disabled persons. The assistants are considered public employees under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, which authorizes collective bargaining. Since 2003, the Union has been the assistants' exclusive representative, required to represent all public employees, including non-members. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Union collected limited "fair share" fees from workers who chose not to join, which were automatically deducted from the assistants' pay. Workers who objected to this fair-share arrangement sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of their claim; the Supreme Court reversed. On remand, the Objectors sought certification of a class of all non-union member assistants from whom the fees were collected until June 30, 2014, when the state stopped the fair-share deductions. They argued that their proposed class of around 80,000 members is entitled to a refund of approximately $32 million. The Seventh Circuit affirmed a holding that class certification was inappropriate, stating that: the class definition was overly broad in light of evidence that a substantial number of class members did not object to the fee and could not have suffered an injury; named plaintiffs were not adequate representatives; individual questions regarding damages predominated over common ones; the class faced manageability issues; and a class action was not a superior method of resolving the issue. View "Riffey v. Rauner" on Justia Law

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King worked for many years in Ford’s vehicle assembly plants. She claims that after transferring to Ford’s Chicago plant in 2010, she was sexually harassed by a supervisor, after which she was reassigned to less desirable tasks, missing out on overtime, and receiving unwarranted discipline. King was fired in 2013 after missing several weeks of work for medical reasons that Ford claims she did not properly document. King sued, asserting sexual harassment and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2615, interference, and that Ford retaliated against her for her complaints of sexual harassment and taking FMLA leave, 42 U.S.C. 2000e‐2. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of her claims on summary judgment. King argued that she never received the right‐to‐sue letter, so the 90‐day limitations period never began to run, but admitted that she failed to keep the EEOC apprised of her mailing address. With respect to her FMLA claim, the court noted that King did not establish she actually worked at least 1,250 hours in the preceding year. As to her Title VII claim, King’s protected activity consists of her March 2012 EEOC charge and her internal complaints of harassment, the last of which was a call to the anti‐harassment hotline in April 2012; the adverse action on which King focused was her April 2013 firing. View "King v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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Consolino is a Cook County Sheriff’s Office correctional officer and a Marine Reservist counterintelligence specialist. Beginning in 1999, Consolino was assigned to the Boot Camp, an alternative sentencing program for non-violent inmates. Consolino’s wife, Trzos, also worked at the Boot Camp, as an administrative assistant. Trzos filed a Shakman complaint that went to arbitration in 2012, asserting that she was transferred for political reasons. Shakman refers to consent decrees entered in an Illinois case challenging government "patronage" employment practices. Consolino testified on his wife's behalf. An arbitrator denied her claims. Around the same time, Consolino was seeking a two-year assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Based on a mistaken belief that Consolino had been approved for an open position, the FBI sent specifically requested Consolino for the task force. Consolino was subsequently told that the FBI rescinded its offer for failure to follow protocol. Consolino checked with the FBI and requested clarification from the Sheriff’s Office. Receiving no response, Consolino filed a complaint. An Assistant State’s Attorney ultimately concluded that Consolino’s complaint of retaliation was not well-founded. Seven months later, Consolino was reassigned to the jail. Consolino filed suit, alleging retaliation for engaging in protected speech because he testified in his wife’s hearing and later filed a grievance. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Consolino produced no evidence that the defendants were personally involved in his transfer or aware of his testimony. View "Consolino v. Towne" on Justia Law

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From 2002-2012, Frakes was a Peoria special education teacher. All of Frakes’s students were eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400. Nunn, like all of Frakes’s former supervisors, observed deficiencies in Frakes’s performance. In 2012, Nunn gave Frakes an overall performance rating of “unsatisfactory,” citing multiple specific examples Frakes was placed on a remediation plan. Before her remediation period began, Frakes was placed on medical leave status. In April 2012, Frakes was honorably dismissed as part of a reduction in teaching force. Because of her “unsatisfactory” rating, Frakes, and nine other full‐time tenured teachers, was placed in “Group 2” on the “sequence of honorable dismissal list” in accordance with Illinois law. Frakes filed an unsuccessful state court suit, asserting wrongful termination under the Illinois School Code. Frakes filed a federal suit, claimed that her “unsatisfactory” evaluation and dismissal interfered with her ability to aid students in exercising their rights under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Peoria. Frakes failed to show that she engaged in any protected activity under the Act. While Frakes provided some evidence that her “unsatisfactory” rating may have been unfair and her preferred teaching method may be better suited for disabled students, this does not render Frakes’s teaching style a protected activity. Frakes never complained about or discouraged discrimination based on disability or engaged in any other protected activity. View "Frakes v. Peoria School District No. 150" on Justia Law

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From 2006-2013, Severson worked for Heartland, a fabricator of retail display fixtures. The work was physically demanding. In 2013, Severson took a 12-week medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, to deal with serious back pain. On the last day of his leave, he underwent back surgery, which required that he remain off of work for another two or three months. Severson asked Heartland to continue his medical leave, but he had exhausted his FMLA entitlement. The company terminated his employment but invited him to reapply when he was medically cleared to work. When Severson’s doctor cleared him to resume work, Severson did not reapply but sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101. The district court awarded Heartland summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement. The Act forbids discrimination against a “qualified individual on the basis of disability.” A “qualified individual” with a disability is a person who, “with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position.” The term is limited to measures that will enable the employee to work. An employee who needs long-term medical leave cannot work and is not a “qualified individual.” View "Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc." on Justia Law

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Monroe worked for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for more than 21 years. His job involved cleaning up human remains after traffic accidents; he witnessed a co‐worker die after a work‐related accident. He had served in combat in the Gulf War, and, in 2012 Monroe’s sister, who lived with him, died of cancer. Monroe also worked a second job In December 2012, Monroe told his supervisor, George, that he was stressed, burned out, could not sleep, and wanted to be transferred to the day shift. After two requests, he was told that no position was available. In 2013, after Monroe’s subordinates complained to George about Monroe, Monroe disclosed that recently he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although Monroe had received performance reviews indicating that he “exceeded expectations” as late as January 2013, INDOT discharged Monroe for creating a hostile and intimidating work environment. Monroe alleged that he was terminated “on the basis of” his mental disability in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding no genuine issue of material fact that INDOT’s proffered reason for discharging him was pretextual or that INDOT treated similarly situated non‐disabled employees more favorably. View "Monroe v. Indiana Department of Transportation" on Justia Law