Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 
Weekly Update
 June 7, 2019

Published Cases

There were no published labor or employment cases last week.
Unpublished Cases
Case No. 18-013285
May 29, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for the employer on the plaintiff’s claims for race and national origin discrimination under Title VII and the FCRA, and interference and retaliation claims under the FMLA. Ibezim, who worked as an administrator for the employer, alleged that he was discriminated against in job assignments and discharged following his internal discrimination complaint and after requesting FMLA leave. The Court agreed that his discrimination and retaliation claims failed, as he did nothing more than quarrel with the wisdom of the discipline he received. His FMLA claims failed factually because the employer had already begun the termination process before he requested FMLA leave.
Case No. 18-013068
May 31, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendant engineering firm (RSH) in a collective action that alleged RSH’s reduction in force (RIF) was pretext for age discrimination in violation of the ADEA. The Eleventh Circuit further upheld the district court’s class-certification decision that Jones could not proceed on behalf of a nationwide class and its denial of plaintiffs’ motions to compel nationwide discovery.

RSH, which maintains offices across the US and is organized into several divisions, made the decision to conduct the RIF in the location and division where plaintiffs worked based on a projected workload analysis showing the division lacked sufficient work going forward. Though the RIF was initiated at the national level, the decision to terminate the individual plaintiffs was made by the local manager based on his assessment of, among other things, employee capabilities and client interests.

The Eleventh Circuit concluded the reasons articulated by RSH for its decisions to conduct the RIF in the plaintiffs’ division and to terminate the plaintiffs, as opposed to other employees, were “legitimate and uncontradicted.” In upholding the district court’s class-certification decision and denial of plaintiffs’ discovery requests, the Eleventh Circuit further relied on the fact that the decision to terminate the individual plaintiffs was made at the local level, which the Court considered to be the “natural focus” of the case.
Case No. 18-10597
May 31, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s amended complaint alleging racially discriminatory discharge in violation of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause, and denial of Due Process resulting from his employer’s transmittal of an investigation report that led to the revocation of his law enforcement certification.
Nurse, an African-American male, was suspended and ultimately discharged from his job as a police officer after he was arrested in another city for alleged sexual assault while giving an intoxicated woman a ride to her hotel. The charges were dropped and the internal investigation did not find that a sexual assault occurred. However, Nurse was discharged for violating several policies, including one prohibiting him from allowing civilians to ride in the front seat of his vehicle and one requiring him to notify his supervisor if he was providing courtesy transport. The Georgia Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Council revoked his license after receipt of the report. 
The Court agreed that Nurse’s discrimination claims lacked sufficient facts. While he alleged that blacks were disciplined more harshly than whites, he failed to identify a single comparator or specific facts to support his conclusory allegations. His due process claim failed because he had an adequate remedy at state law.  
Case No. 1813463
May 31, 2019

Siddiqui, a Pakistani Muslim, appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on his discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and Section 1981. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. 
The employer placed Siddiqui on administrative leave after being informed that he made “extreme[ly] anti-Semit[ic]” comments and statements that made pilots “uneasy” and “nervous.” Siddiqui did not demonstrate that the reasons for his administrative leave or that the delay in his administrative proceedings were false, and did not provide evidence that the real reason was discrimination on the bases of his race, religion, or national origin. His comparator evidence was inapplicable because the comparators had a different decisionmaker. Additionally, he did not allege who made the decision to delay his administrative proceedings nor rebut the employer’s explanation that it was awaiting the results of an FBI investigation. Further, while Siddiqui alleged that the reasons for his discharge was false, the Court opined that the material question was whether the Vice President, who did not participate in the review board proceeding, based his decision in good faith on their meeting notes and believed Siddiqui had made the comments and lied about them. Siddiqui provided no evidence to dispute that the Vice President relied on the review and trusted the investigators; therefore, Siddiqui did not raise a genuine question as to whether the reason was a pretext for discrimination. His primary retaliation claim failed because he pointed to no decisionmaker who was aware of the letter from his attorney alleging discrimination. Citing Breeden , the Court also rejected his argument that his receipt of a right-to-sue letter was a protected activity. 
Case No. 18-10040
May 29, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment entered for the employer after a bench trial on her ADEA claim. The plaintiff, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent, resigned after being involuntarily transferred from Florida to Maryland, contending that the transfers were intended to force agents to retire. The employer contended, rather, that the transfer was intended to reduce overstaffing in the Southeast region. The Court concluded that the claimant had not met her heavy burden of showing error; under the applicable standard of review, the district court must be affirmed if its “account of the evidence is plausible in light of the record viewed in its entirety.” The Court concluded that the record contained abundant evidence supporting the employer’s credited explanation.
The Eleventh Circuit Weekly Update was prepared by Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission staff: case summaries by Chairman Frank E. Brown, and Appellate Counsel Cristina A. Velez and Katie E. Sabo; editing by Deputy General Counsel and Chief Appellate Attorney Amanda L. Neff; research and layout by Research Attorney Lesley Blanton.