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Qualified immunity? For a claim of employment retaliation for whistle-blowing? Believe it or not, that's the defense Philadelphia School District mounted after a federal district court denied its motion for summary judgment in this employment retaliation case.

Francis Dougherty, a former employee, was fired after she told the news media that the school district's superintendent, Dr. Arlene Ackerman, directed a contract to a minority-owned firm without a bidding procedure. The Third Circuit said "no" to the district's claim that it was protected by qualified immunity.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is simple: If you're injured, you can take leave and your job is held for you while you recover. Except, the finer points can get a bit tricky. What if an employee can only come back with restrictions? Who makes the judgment call on whether an employee can fulfill her essential duties?

That was the key to Vanessa Budhun's case. She broke a finger, was told by HR that she had to take FMLA leave, and while she was gone, was replaced. The doctor cleared her with "no restrictions in splint," which is kinda-sorta like no restrictions, but with only seven functioning digits. (Bundhun's job requires typing.)

The district court granted summary judgment to the hospital, but the Third Circuit reversed. Why?

Remember the mailbox rule? Just the thought of it brings us back to our first year of law school. And believe it or not, it still comes up in cases today.

Last week, the Third Circuit had a chance to review the common law presumption of delivery, and noted that it in this day and age, that time-honored presumption may not be enough for employers attempting to give their employees legal notice.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is not without its detractors -- the Republican-controlled House has voted to repeal it 37 times, reports The Washington Post. But what is not achieved through the legislative process, people are hoping to achieve with the help of the judiciary.

Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, is a secular, for-profit, closely-held, family-owned company (say that fast three times). The Hahns, the family that owns Conestoga, are Mennonites who had a problem with two drugs they had to provide through their group health plans: the morning-after pill and the week-after pill. They claimed that Conestoga's right to free exercise of religion, under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), was violated because the health plan required they make the drugs available.

The Third Circuit disagreed.

Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down a decision that could have wide ranging repercussions for employers. Faced with determining several issues surrounding a discrimination claim, and its retaliatory responses, the New Jersey Supreme Court offered some clarity to employers, and employees alike.

Plaintiff Michael Battaglia at one point supervised defendant Wayne DeCraine, where he reprimanded DeCraine for making off-color comments about women. Because of Battaglia’s illness and time off from work, years later DeCraine ended up as Battaglia’s direct supervisor. Battaglia again heard DeCraine make derogatory statements about women, but only in the presence of men. These comments were the basis of a Law Against Discrimination (LAD) claim that Battaglia brought against UPS and DeCraine.

Can the Third Circuit Get Anything Right? SCOTUS Reverses Again

Last year, the Sixth Circuit surpassed the Ninth Circuit as the most-reversed federal appellate court, according to the ABA Journal.

This term, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is looking like a real contender for the most mistaken crown.

Last month, the Supreme Court reversed the Philadelphia-based appellate court in Millbrook v. U.S. and Comcast Corp et al v. Behrend. This week, it added two more cases to that list: US Airways v. McCutchen and Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk.

Female Ref Gets Another Shot at Suing the NJ Basketball Boys Club

Tamika Covington just wants to ref boys’ high school varsity basketball games.

After more than 10 years as a basketball official in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Covington sued various entities that have some role in high school athletics in New Jersey, alleging gender employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

School Can Pay Teachers With Out of State Experience Less

The Steel Valley School District in Pennsylvania pays its teachers pursuant to a salary scale based on their education and years of experience. When the District hired Patrick Connelly, he had had nine years of teaching experience — in Maryland. But working in Maryland is practically the same as not working at all, according to Steel Valley policies: The District credited him with only one year when calculating his starting salary. Other new teachers with similar experience acquired within Pennsylvania — but outside Steel Valley — received at least partial credit for each year they had taught.

This week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the District’s pay policy did not violate the right to interstate travel under the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

Walmart Wins Against Illegal Immigrant Worker Lawsuit

Walmart stores have been in the news numerous times for alleged crooked practices. In a recent Third Circuit Court of Appeals case, the court rejected numerous claims against the retail giant.

The facts and allegations of the case are more interesting than the underlying legal arguments. We’ll touch more on the facts in the case for this end-of-week blog post, but if you’re interested in reading the legal arguments further, have a look at the Third Circuit’s opinion. The case has been going on for eight years and there have been at least four opinions on this case.

Bus Driver's Sabbath Ruling a Problem for Many Religious Groups

Last month, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision in Roger Fouche v. New Jersey Transit, an appeal involving a born-again Christian bus driver who wanted his Sundays off.

Unfortunately for the bus driver, the New Jersey Transit Corporation fired him, citing that his request placed an undue burden on the company.