Third Circuit Ruling Regarding ADA, FMLA

From the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, we have a reminder that employees who request reasonable accommodations are not immune from disciplinary action, including termination. Stanley Kieffer was an employee of CPR LLC from 2003 to 2008, and again from 2010 to 2013. He began working at CPR LLC’s sister company, CPR Inc., in January 2014, and left in June of that same year. While he was employed at CPR LLC, Kieffer worked supervising disaster cleaning projects, and it was in this capacity that he injured his shoulder. From there, his troubles only continued. Continue reading

This Takes the Cake: The Supreme Court Sides with Colorado Baker Who Refused to Make a Cake for a Gay Couple

Supreme CourtOne of the most anticipated rulings of the Spring Term was issued by the Supreme Court on June 4, 2018. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that baker Jack Phillips was treated with hostility for his religious views by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when they ruled that he could not refuse to make a gay couple a wedding cake. Continue reading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit Sides with Transgender Students’ Rights

A three-judge panel decided, after less than 30 minutes of conferring, to uphold a male female sign_3decision from the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

In 2016, Boyertown School District updated their school policy, allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity (rather than their anatomical sex). The school district also provided single-stall showers and single-stall bathrooms that students who felt uncomfortable using another bathroom could use. Continue reading

Come Fly with Me: Third Circuit Rules that Boeing Did Not Wrongfully Terminate a Former Employee

boeingThomas Vaughan Jr. worked at Boeing’s Ridley Park plant for 18 years, most recently as a composite fabricator. But in 2013, he began having issues. That year, he was briefly terminated following an altercation with a supervisor. His termination was revoked, however, after the Union negotiated a settlement, allowing him to return to work in October 2013, under a “Last Chance” Agreement.

But Vaughan continued to have problems, even though he was in a new role. Upon returning to work, Vaughan required two certifications to begin to work at his new position. Before he got certification, he was assigned to a temporary sweeping position. Vaughan was disgruntled that the training was not happening fast enough, and that those responsible for the training were acting “dismissively” toward him. Nevertheless, he eventually got the certifications and began his job attaching fuel bags.

Boeing continued to see performance issues with Vaughan. First he left foreign object debris (FOD) on an aircraft during his break. FOD includes anything that is foreign to an aircraft—from tools to stray scraps. Because of the damage this could do to an aircraft, Boeing requires that all FOD be removed. The next issue occurred when Vaughan’s new supervisor noticed that he had left his tools out on a cart overnight, rather than store them in his locker. Following this incident, Vaughan’s manager found that Vaughan had left paper backing on an aircraft. Two days after that, one of Vaughan’s coworkers found that he had used a sander without putting his employee marker (called a “chit”) in the space to indicate that he had it.

Following this series of incidents, Vaughan was put on a three-day suspension from his position. Upon his return in January 2014, Vaughan continued to have issues—from once again failing to use his “chit,” to taking unauthorized overtime. Boeing, at the recommendation of Vaughan’s manager, made the decision to terminate Vaughan permanently, citing in the termination memo the most recent incidents involving the “chit” and the overtime.

After returning to Boeing the first time, Vaughan felt that he was not being given the chance to succeed. Boeing, for its part, believed that it had given Vaughan multiple chances and opportunities for training to try to keep him on.

The case seems fairly open and shut: employee breaks company policy on multiple occasions and is fired following several warnings. The problem with this case comes down to race. Thomas Vaughan was the only African American worker on his team. While he did not deny that he had committed these infractions, he also claimed that other white workers made equally significant mistakes, but were not terminated.

Boeing denies that they treated Vaughan any differently than his white coworkers. And as of May 22, 2018, the Third Circuit Court agrees. A three-judge panel ruled that Boeing had sufficient cause for firing Mr. Vaughan and their action was not racially motivated. The Third Circuit’s ruling confirmed a decision by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granting summary judgment to Boeing.

Choosing to fire an employee is never an easy decision. It is an emotional situation for both parties. But sometimes it needs to be done. Boeing made sure to document the reasons for Vaughan’s termination, as well as work with him to avoid a termination at an earlier date. These are important factors to keep in mind if you are considering terminating an employee.

Employment Law Update: Supreme Court Decision on Workers’ Rights

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court issued a decision today regarding workers’ rights to collectively sue their employers for violations of federal labor and employment laws. We will have more to say in the coming weeks about how this decision will change the landscape of employment law.  For right now, here is what you should know: Continue reading

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Fair Share Fees

by William W. Bowser

On Monday, February 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments inSupreme Court Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, a case that could have a substantial impact on Delaware’s public-sector employers and employees. The Court is being asked to decide whether a public-sector employee who refuses to join a union can be required to pay so-called fair share fees to the union.

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Compassionless Court Kicks Marijuana Claim

By Michael P. Stafford

Marijuana is back in the news here in Delaware. Our state’s first Compassion Center is set to open later this month and legislation decriminalizing the sacred herb has been signed into law by Governor Jack Markell.  medical marijuana_3

Delaware is by no means unique-it is part of a national trend towards decriminalization and even legalization occurring at the state level across the nation. However, as far as the federal government is concerned, marijuana remains illegal. Essentially, America is becoming a veritable patchwork quilt of differing, and inconsistent approaches-a situation that is creating headaches for employers, particularly those with national or multi-state operations, striving for consistency and uniformity in their drug policies. Continue reading