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Employer Didn't Violate ADA for Firing Man With Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Gary Brunckhorst could not go back to work because a bacteria was literally eating him alive.

The disease practically killed him, and after three life-saving surgeries and five months of hospitalization, he still couldn't go back to work. He finally recovered enough to work again, but by then his employer said the job had been eliminated.

He sued for disability discrimination in Brunckhorst v. City of Oak Park Heights. Like the disease, however, the appeals court said it wasn't the employer's fault.

A recently filed wage-suppression class action against the burger franchiser Carl's Jr. claims that the company has conspired to suppress the wages of their restaurant managers and shift-leaders.

The gist of the lawsuit alleges that the agreements entered into by the franchisees contain no-hire and non-solicitation agreements which prevents the managers from being able to compete in the marketplace for their services. The putative class action complaint alleges that the company required these agreements "for the express purpose of depressing and/or reducing market-based wages and benefits increases."

A recent Eighth Circuit decision made a rather technical distinction when it came to a recent Title VII retaliation claim: a job applicant's request for a religious accommodation is not protected activity for the purposes of a Title VII retaliation claim.

Fortunately, the Eighth Circuit limited its decision to prospective employees and to facts evidencing that the request itself did not communicate "opposition" conduct. And though there was a rather well thought out dissent, and it was the EEOC prosecuting the case, the panel of judges upheld the dismissal of the clear contentious case upon some questionable analysis.

Civil rights can sometimes be a bit confusing. The case of Anthony Runion is definitely one of those 'I-may-not-agree-with-what-you're-saying-but-I-support-your-right-to-say-it' situations in the view of the Eighth Circuit.

Runion was picketing his employer, Cooper Tire, after striking union employees were locked out. As a group of strike-breaking employees crossed the picket line, Runion made racist comments, which were not heard by the strike-breaking employees. Nevertheless, Cooper Tire terminated Runion for making the racist comments.

Runion appealed the termination, and at arbitration it was upheld as a "for cause" termination. However, Runion appealed the arbitrator's decision to the NLRB, which reversed, and ordered Runion reinstated with back pay. The NLRB found that despite the content of the comments, precedent required ruling in Runion's favor.

Iowa Nurses Won't Get Raises Under CBA

In what has been described by some lawyers as shocking and troubling, the Eighth Circuit has ruled that an Iowa hospital was not incorrect in freezing nurses' raises after their collective bargaining agreement expired.

If the ruling remains on the books, it stands to fundamentally change the tenor and validity of CBAs around the country -- especially those within middle America.

A whistleblowing employee is not protected from retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act if a reasonable person, in his position and with his same training and experience, would not have believed there was a securities violation to report, the Eighth Circuit ruled this week. The ruling makes the Eighth Circuit the fourth federal appellate court to endorse the so-called Sylvester standard, first adopted by the Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board in 2012.

The ruling came as the Eighth Circuit rejected the claims of Vincent Beacom, a former vice president of sales at Oracle's Retail Global Business Unit. Beacom had complained about a change in revenue projection procedures which he felt mislead Oracle's shareholders. RGBU's revenues made up less than one fifth of one percent of Oracle's revenue at the time.

An employer did not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act when it rescinded an offer to an overweight candidate, the Eighth Circuit ruled last month. In doing so, the court rejected a claim that obesity is a disability and that the obese are protected against discrimination under the ADA -- as long as that obesity isn't linked to or caused by another medical condition.

Litigation over obesity is becoming more common as American's waistlines expand. But, with decisions like the Eighth Circuit's, those claiming anti-obese discrimination aren't likely to see much luck in federal courts.

8th Circuit Rules for Employees in Jimmy John's NLRA Case

The Eighth Circuit just upheld another NLRA ruling for workers who protested their employer's employment acts or policies. It looks like the end of the sandwich case that has ruffled a few feathers.

Increasingly, it appears that the NLRA has a lot of teeth, further frothing up the controversial debate as to what kind of legal protections employees enjoy when they actively publish negative publicity about their employers.

8th Circuit Rules on Another NLRB Employee vs. Contractor Case

Few government agencies make lawyers groan more than the National Labor Relations Board, with possible exception of the IRS. This month, the Eighth Circuit decided to deny a security company's petition for review of an NRLB order against it and grant the agency's enforcement of its slap-down.

8th Cir. Refuses to Vacate Denial of Disability Benefits to Low IQ Woman

The Eighth Circuit affirmed the findings of the a lower district court: a woman with a tested IQ of only 57.

In the opinion of the court, Karen Ash did not qualify for social security benefits because she was still able to live a relatively average life, thus allowing the district court to affirm the ruling "substantially on the record."