Employment Law News - U.S. Eleventh Circuit
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A police officer in Georgia, who claims he was punished for reporting racial profiling, can pursue his section 1983 and defamation suit against the local sheriff's department, the Eleventh Circuit ruled last week.

Derrick Bailey, a law-enforcement officer with more than 17 years of experience, alleges that he was terminated and harassed for reporting racial profiling and constitutional violations in the Douglasville police department and Douglas County sheriffs office. That retaliation included a "BOLO," or "be-on-the-lookout" advisory to all law enforcement in the county, describing Bailey as a "loose cannon" and danger to any cop -- a warning the Eleventh Circuit notes could have left him dead at the hands of his fellow officers.

Does a prohibition on employee dreadlocks amount to racial discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? Not according to the Eleventh Circuit. Though dreads may be closely associated with African American race and culture, a ban on the hairstyle doesn't amount to racial discrimination, the court ruled last Thursday.

The ruling came after the EEOC brought a lawsuit on behalf of Chastity Jones, an applicant who was offered a job at a customer service call center, on the condition that she chop off her dreadlocks.

Atlanta-area stagehands are contractors, not employees, the Eleventh Circuit ruled last week. In so doing, the court reversed a finding by the National Labor Relations Board that stagehands placed through Crew One Productions were employees entitled to union representation.

Instead, the court found that Crew One exercised too little control over the stagehands for them to be considered employees. The finding could have an impact on similar lawsuits throughout the country, including recent challenges to "sharing economy" companies like Uber.

11th Circuit Revives Age Discrimination Suit Against MetLife

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a lower district court's grant of summary judgment on age discrimination issues, finding that the trial court failed to apply relevant law and came to its conclusions erroneously.

It's a small victory for the plaintiff, who was subjected to the ridiculous drama of employee jealousy and company re-organization.

The Second Circuit broke ground in July, creating a new standard for determining when interns are actually employees entitled to the benefits of employment, like a minimum wage. In that case, the Second Circuit rejected the six part test put forward by the Department of Labor in favor of a "primary beneficiary test" where employment status is determined by whether the intern or employer is the primary beneficiary.

Now, the Eleventh Circuit has adopted the same standard the Second Circuit announced in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures. The Eleventh also offered important insight into how lower courts should apply the factors established in Glatt.

Whistleblower Lane, After SCOTUS, to Get Shot at Reinstatement

Earlier this year, we picked Lane v. Franks as our "SCOTUS sleeper" -- a case nobody was talking about, but one that was extremely important for whistleblowers and workers' speech rights. Edward Lane, the director of a state program for at-risk youth, noticed that a politician held a no-show gig at the local community college and fired her. He was subpoenaed to give testimony in her criminal trial.

Lane was then laid off. Fortunately for him, the Supreme Court came to his rescue somewhat, by holding that his speech was protected. Now that he's been vindicated in the eyes of the law, all that is left is to get his job back, assuming the courts even have the power to issue such an order.

But here's the punch line: The program Lane worked for doesn't even exist anymore.

Are Security Screenings Compensable Under the FLSA?

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a petition to review whether workers at a Nevada warehouse may be entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act for time spent going through security screenings while off the clock.

Though the case stems from the Ninth Circuit, the High Court's decision could impact the Eleventh Circuit, especially since the two circuits' rulings conflict with each other.

The Court recently denied pay for changing clothes before work. Is there a difference between pre-shift safety gear and post-shift security checks?

Updates: Rosenbaum Nomination Official; Interns Denied Cert

It's official! Well, Judge Robin Rosenbaum's Eleventh Circuit nomination is, at least. If past nominations are any indication, confirmation is no sure thing. That being said, Rosenbaum certainly seems like a savvy nomination by President Barack Obama.

And in unsurprising news, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in an unpublished case that we covered earlier, which means unpaid interns will have to wait a little longer for their day in front of the nation's high court.

Unite Here v. Mulhall: Will SCOTUS End Top-Down Unionization?

Ah, the perils of collective bargaining.

In a truly impressive deal, Unite Here managed to bargain away the rights of workers of the Mardi Gras Casino before it actually represented them. How so?

Seeking to represent the rights of the workers, Unite Here entered into a deal with the management of Mardi Gras Gaming: they would pay for ads supporting gambling and the union would promise to forego its rights to picket, boycott, or otherwise put pressure on the business in exchange for an open invitation onto company property, no opposition to unionizing the company's workers, and the company would even provide the contact information for the employees.

Historically Black College Pays for Racial Slurs, Bad Lawyers

A double bench-slapping? Yes, please.

Alabama State University recently found itself on the losing end of a racial and sexual harassment verdict, brought after three former employees alleged that they were subject to repeated harassment and usage of the words "n----" and "b----" by one of their supervisors.

The other supervisor reportedly sexually harassed at least one of the women, and threatened retaliation if the women participated in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's investigation.