Articles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of his former employers, BoA, on his claim of age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq., and breach of contract. Under the McDonald Douglas Corp v. Green framework, assuming arguendo that plaintiff met his burden of demonstrating a prima facie case of age discrimination, the court agreed with the district court that BoA has satisfied its burden to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for plaintiff's termination. BoA has explained that plaintiff's employment was terminated as part of a company-wide reduction in force; two months prior to his termination, plaintiff received a negative mid-year performance review; and as of September 2010, plaintiff was ranked 136th across all BoA sales personnel for the year and his performance was the worse of all employees in his group. In regards to the breach of contract claim, the district court correctly determined that plaintiff was an at-will employee and that although annual bonuses were discretionary, there is no record evidence, or even an allegation, indicating that plaintiff was promised a mid-year bonus. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Delaney v. Bank of America Corp." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a botched SWAT-style raid that resulted in the fatal shooting of plaintiff's houseguest (Gonzalo Guizan) and injury to plaintiff. Plaintiff and Guizan's estate filed suit against law enforcement officers, alleging, inter alia, civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state tort claims. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part defendants' motions for summary judgment based on their assertions of qualified immunity. The court reversed the judgment of the district court insofar as it determined that Chief Solomon was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability for the decision - standing alone - to activate the SWERT tactical team; affirmed the judgment of the district court insofar as it held that plaintiff's claims implicated clearly established constitutional law with respect to the planning and approval of the raid, the use of stun grenades, the actions of Officers Sweeney and Weir, the alleged knock-and-announce violations, and the duty of police to intervene in constitutional violations by fellow officers; and dismissed defendants' arguments in other respects because the appeal relied on disputed facts. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Terebesi v. Torresso, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that they were falsely arrested for participating in a demonstration in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) based on qualified immunity. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court because the court could not resolve at this early stage the ultimately factual issue of whether certain defendants implicitly invited the demonstrators to walk onto the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge, which would otherwise have been prohibited by New York law. View "Garcia v. Does" on Justia Law

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This case concerns compliance reports regarding improving conditions in two correctional facilities under a settlement agreement between the United States and Erie County. The NYCLU sought to intervene in order to have the reports unsealed. The court held that the public's fundamental right of access to judicial documents, guaranteed by the First Amendment, was wrongly denied when the compliance reports in this case were sealed. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's decision and ordered that the judicial documents be unsealed. View "United States v. Erie County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging section 181.21 of the New York City Health Code, which regulates metzitzah b'peh, the direct oral suction of the circumcision wound of an infant as a part of a bris milah. Plaintiffs argued that the Regulation compelled speech and burdened their free exercise of religion in violation of the First Amendment. The court agreed with the district court that the Regulation does not compel speech. However, the court concluded that the Regulation is neither neutral nor generally applicable and therefore must satisfy strict scrutiny. The Regulation is not neutral because it purposefully and exclusively targets a religious practice for special burdens and the Regulation is not generally applicable because it is underinclusive in relation to its asserted secular goals. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded for the district court to consider whether plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits applying strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause. View "Central Rabbinical Congress v. NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the display of "The Cross at Ground Zero," a column and cross-beam from one of the Twin Towers, at the National September 11 Museum as violating the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses, as well as parallel provisions of state law. The court concluded that displaying The Cross in the Museum does not violate the Establishment Clause because the stated purpose of displaying The Cross to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular; an objective observer would not view the display as endorsing religion generally, or Christianity specifically, because it is part of an exhibit entitled "Finding Meaning at Ground Zero"; the exhibit includes various nonreligious as well as religious artifacts; and there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion. Because the Museum did not deny equal protection by displaying The Cross and refusing plaintiffs' request to fund an accompanying symbol commemorating atheists, the court affirmed the district court's award of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Cablevision, alleging claims of race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment for Cablevision on both claims and the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's pendant state law claims. The court concluded that the district court overlooked evidence raising a genuine factual dispute as to whether Cablevision's justifications for firing plaintiff were a pretext for race discrimination and retaliation, and a rational jury could find that Cablevision discriminated against plaintiff and fired him in violation of Title VII. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for trial. View "Kirkland v. Cablevision Systems" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Verizon, alleging that the company discriminated against her, subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment, retaliated against her, and paid her less than her male colleagues for equal work. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant in part of Verizon's motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment, and denial of plaintiff's motion to compel production of documents. The court concluded that the district court erred when it refused to consider all allegations in the complaint in their totality, including those that were not sexually offensive in nature; the district court abused its discretion when it denied plaintiff's motion to compel documents related to Verizon's Reduction in Force events; and the district court erred when it refused to consider a witness's statements in an affidavit that contradicted prior deposition testimony. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moll v. Telesector Resources Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3, against the Department, alleging claims of retaliation for their complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC. Plaintiffs had shaved their heads to demonstrate solidarity with one of the plaintiffs who had cancer and lost his hair as a result of chemotherapy. The Department subsequently investigated complaints that plaintiffs were "skinheads." The court held that the Department's initiation and conduct of an investigation into the white plaintiffs' claims of racial harassment alleged to have been generated by an African American officer, and a complaint against plaintiffs for filing false reports with the EEOC of such harassment, were not adverse employment actions. The court also held that threats by the Department to charge plaintiffs with making a false report to the EEOC established a prima facie case of illegal retaliation but that the Department has shown a non-retaliatory purpose, and plaintiffs have presented no evidence of pretext. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' retaliation claims. View "Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f), and New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law 296(5) and (18)(2). Plaintiffs alleged that defendants denied their application for a lease because of the disability of their son, who suffers from major depression, and that they were denied reasonable accommodation for his condition. On appeal, plaintiffs principally contend that the district court erred in dismissing their claims as a matter of law and that it should have granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on their reasonable accommodation claim. The court concluded that the district court properly declined to grant judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on the reasonable accommodation claim, but that, as to all of plaintiffs' claims, the evidence was sufficient to preclude the granting of judgment in favor of defendants as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for trial. View "Olsen v. Stark Holmes, Inc." on Justia Law