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The two Boston teamsters, Joseph Burhoe and John Perry, who were convicted in 2014 on federal union extortion charges have had their convictions reversed and cases remanded by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The 75-page opinion provides an interesting glance into the nuanced complexity surrounding the issue of union extortion.

In short, the two teamsters were found guilty of extortion after a trial where it was proved that they threatened to picket businesses unless those businesses hired union workers. However, on appeal, a bad jury instruction proved terminal to the federal government's case, though it may not actually be over for the pair of union advocates, as other counts were affirmed.

What a difference a comma can make. In a recent case out of Maine, a missing comma in the state's overtime law decided a dispute between a dairy company and its delivery drivers, where, literally, for want of a comma the case was lost.

Of course, writers, grammarians, lawyers, and the like (wordsy, rulesy people, all) love to debate the value of commas. And few comma issues are as divisive as the Oxford, or serial, comma. This passion for punctuation has kept books on the bestseller list (remember "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"?), prompted public polling, and inspired endless online think pieces.

Sometimes those battles are fought in courtrooms, as was the case in O'Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy, the Maine overtime dispute decided by the First Circuit yesterday.

1st Circuit Gives Employers Some Breathing Room in ADA Claims

The First Circuit affirmed in whole the summary dismissal of an employee's disability discrimination claims on Monday, ruling that the employee failed to prove a prima facie case of repeated violations.

The case is sure to come as a relief to employers who have often complained that federal anti-discrimination laws are overly onerous and hamper business and profits.

Social Worker Gets Validated in Maine Whistleblower Suit

A Maine Social Worker got an earlier Summary Judgment against her vacated by the First Circuit's Court of Appeals because of an understandable but erroneous reading of a key case.

We ask you: if your work is "excellent" and "very [good]," but you're fired soon after you blow the whistle -- is there a casual connection between your finking and your firing? A reasonable mind could probably agree there is.

A Puerto Rican government worker has lost his political discrimination suit after the First Circuit ruled on Friday that he could show no evidence that his employment actions were politically motivated. Victor Santiago Diaz, a teacher and administrator in the island's Department of Education, had claimed that he suffered employment discrimination after a new political party came into power.

However, Santiago didn't have any strong evidence to back up that claim, the First Circuit ruled. Even worse -- the actions he objected to were hardly adverse and the supervisor most responsible for them was a member of his own political party.

Hard to Win an ADA Retaliation Claim When You Failed at Your Job

This case is neither particularly exciting, nor complicated.

Maria J. Collazo-Rosado worked for the University of Puerto Rico, heading up its student tutoring department. She suffers from Chron's Disease, which causes inflammation of the intestines. You're not a doctor, and neither am I, but that basically means she runs to the toilet a lot and has to have frequent visits with a doctor.

UPR had a pretty strict attendance policy about using time cards, one which she repeatedly failed to follow (ostensibly because of her condition, though she even failed to text or email when she was going to be late, as required by UPR). She might have had a fighting chance at a claim except ... she failed at her actual job, nuking any possible claims of retaliation and pretextual termination.

Airline Worker Who Stole Toiletries Loses Bad-Faith Firing Claim

Thomas Locke was in quite a catch-22. Locke, an employee at Logan International Airport in Boston, was given one more chance to be good after he was found stealing soda, beer, sandwiches, soap, and toilet paper from airplanes. He couldn't, however, because his employer, US Airways, refused to issue him a new badge, his old badge having been lost during the investigation.

Locke sued, alleging that the airline acted in bad faith by preventing him from returning to work, as he couldn't even go to his job without a security badge. The district court granted summary judgment to U.S. Airways and the First Circuit affirmed.

'Success' in ERISA Case Includes Having Case Sent Back to Ins. Co.

What counts as a "success on the merits" for purposes of attorney fee-shifting in an ERISA claim? Diahann Gross' employer, Sun Life Insurance, denied her disability leave claim for numbness and fibromyalgia. In an earlier appeal, the First Circuit said that Sun Life's insurance plan contained an incorrect standard for evaluating disability claims. The court remanded to the insurance plan's administrator for further review.

In this appeal, Gross is asking for attorneys fees. Sun Life says she's not entitled to them -- at least at this point -- because she hasn't succeeded at anything yet. The First Circuit agreed with Gross, 2-1.

Fidelity Faces 401(k) Float Income Class Action in Mass.

Fidelity Investments, the largest U.S. provider of workplace retirement plans, is facing a putative class action in Massachusetts alleging that Fidelity improperly uses customer money earned in overnight accounts to pay its own operating expenses, Reuters reports.

Earlier this month, three Massachusetts residents filed suit against Boston-based Fidelity, accusing the company of using "float income" -- income generated from retirement fund assets -- by temporarily investing it for its own benefit, in violation of ERISA.

A recent ruling by the Eighth Circuit sheds some light on how the court might rule.

Lawson v. FMR LLC is a case originating in the First Circuit, that dealt with whether the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower protections extend to employees of a private company that are contractors for public companies. Last week, the Supreme Court issued its opinion clarifying the reach of the Act.

Lawson v. FMR LLC -- The Lower Courts

In Lawson, two contractors who worked for mutual funds (who in practice don't have employees of their own) were essentially fired after they brought up concerns regarding the funds' management. After they sued under 18 U.S.C. § 1514A, the district court denied the mutual funds' motions to dismiss, and the First Circuit reversed. The question before the Supreme Court was whether § 1514A applied to employees of private contractors that did work for public companies.