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Moody, a substitute custodian, sued the Atlantic City Board of Education for sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1), 3(a), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The district court rejected the claims on summary judgment, finding that the alleged harasser, Marshall, was not Moody’s supervisor. Marshall was the custodial foreman at one of the district schools and had authority to select which substitute custodians worked at the school. Moody was not guaranteed work and worked only when selected by a foreman; Marshall controlled 70% of her hours. The Third Circuit vacated. Marshall was empowered to determine whether Moody worked at a particular school, which had a direct impact on her pay, and the evidence indicated that no one else provided supervision at that school. In addition, there were disputed facts concerning whether Moody sustained a tangible employment action. View "Moody v. Atlantic City Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals found that Uddin, a citizen of Bangladesh, was ineligible for withholding of removal because he was a member of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP). The Board found that the BNP qualified as a Tier III terrorist organization under the “terrorism bar,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III). The Third Circuit denied relief with respect to the Board’s ruling dismissing Uddin’s Convention Against Torture claim but remanded his withholding of removal claim. The Board pointed to terrorist acts by BNP members but it did not find that BNP leadership authorized any of the terrorist acts committed by party members. The court joined the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit and the Board in many of its own opinions by holding that unless the agency finds that party leaders authorized terrorist acts committed by its members, an entity such as the BNP cannot be deemed a Tier III terrorist organization. View "Uddin v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The “Sunoco Rewards Program,” which Sunoco advertised, offered customers who buy gas at Sunoco locations using a Citibank-issued credit card a five-cent per gallon discount either at the pump or on their monthly billing statements. The “Terms and Conditions of Offer” sheet, indicating that Citibank is the issuer of the Card, stated that by applying for the card, the applicant authorized Citibank to “share with Sunoco® and its affiliates experiential and transactional information regarding your activity with us.” Sunoco was not a corporate affiliate of and had no ownership interest in Citibank and vice versa. White obtained a Sunoco Rewards Card from Citibank in 2013. He made fuel purchases with the card at various Sunoco-branded gas station locations. White filed a purported class action against Sunoco, not Citibank, alleging that “[c]ontrary to its clear and express representations, Sunoco does not apply a 5¢/gallon discount on all fuel purchases made by cardholders at every Sunoco location. Sunoco omits this material information to induce customers to sign-up for the Sunoco. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of Sunoco’s motion to compel arbitration. Sunoco, a non-signatory to the credit card agreement and not mentioned in the agreement, cannot compel White to arbitrate. View "White v. Sunoco Inc" on Justia Law

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The Fund, a multi-employer benefit plan established under Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 186(c)(5). The Act broadly prohibits employers from providing payments of money or other items of value to employee representatives, with an exception for employee benefit trust funds that comply with statutory requirements, including mandatory administration by a board of trustees composed of an equal number of employee and employer representatives. The Fund is overseen by five union-designated trustees and five employer-designated trustees. The Act requires such funds to install a mechanism allowing a federal district court to appoint a neutral party to resolve any impasse; the Fund’s Agreement specifies that “[i]n the event of a deadlock,” the Trustees “may agree upon an impartial umpire to break such deadlock.” If they cannot agree with a reasonable time, they may petition the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to appoint an impartial umpire. The Trustees deadlocked on a motion seeking to approve payment of compensation to eligible Trustees for attendance at Fund meetings and another seeking to clarify and confirm the eligibility requirements for Employer Trustees. In each case, one-half of the board petitioned the court to appoint an arbitrator to settle the dispute, and the opposing half sought to prevent the requested appointment. The court declined to send either conflict to arbitration. The Third Circuit remanded, finding that both disputes were within the purview of the parties’ agreement to arbitrate. View "Employer Trustees of Western Pennsylvania Teamsters v. Union Trustees of Western Pennsylvania Teamsters" on Justia Law

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Parker, an indigent prisoner and prolific pro se litigant, initiated about 40 civil matters over a short period of time. In 2014, Parker filed suit, claiming that officials subjected him to false arrest, malicious prosecution, and the use of excessive force during his 2011 arrest, and sought to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP). The court granted the IFP motion and considered the case under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), which directs a court to dismiss a case “at any time” if it determines that the “action or appeal is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” The court concluded that Parker’s claims were time-barred and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. This was Parker’s first strike under the PLRA “three strikes” rule. which limits a prisoner’s ability to proceed IFP if the prisoner abuses the judicial system by filing frivolous actions. Parker’s next strikes arose from the dismissals, as “frivolous,” of two 2015 civil rights complaints. The Third Circuit affirmed, stating that an indigent prisoner appealing a district court’s imposition of his “third strike” may not proceed IFP for that appeal without demonstrating that he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. View "Parker v. Montgomery County Correctional Facility" on Justia Law

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Geisinger Medical Center, a private hospital that operates clinical training, partnered with Bloomsburg University, which teaches in the classroom, to establish the Nurse Anesthetist Program. Geisinger provides certificates upon completion of its clinic and Bloomsburg confers Master of Science degrees to students who complete both the coursework and the clinical component. Geisinger’s policies, including its drug and alcohol policy, apply to students participating in the clinic; drug tests “may be administered upon reasonable suspicion of substance abuse,” and any worker “who refuses to cooperate ... shall be subject to disciplinary action, including termination” without pre-termination hearing or process. Geisinger has sole authority to remove an enrollee from the clinical program. The Program's Director, a Geisinger nurse anesthetist, Richer, was a joint employee of Geisinger and Bloomsburg. Richer terminated Borrell, who had previously been a Geisinger RN, for refusing to take a drug test after another nurse reported that Borrell used cocaine and “acted erratically” on a recent trip. Richer had previously “noticed that Borrell appeared disheveled on a few occasions.” Richer claimed he acted as Director of the clinical training portion and that Bloomsburg played no part in the decision. Borrell requested, but did not receive, a formal hearing from Bloomsburg, then filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. The Third Circuit reversed summary judgment in favor of Borrell, concluding that the defendants were not state actors. View "Borrell v. Bloomsburg University" on Justia Law

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Williams, an African-American woman, claimed that she was subjected to constant harassment by her supervisors at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, faced a hostile work environment, and was ultimately constructively discharged from her position as a Human Relations Representative. After taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, she had not returned to work. She filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, seeking damages for the loss of her job and the harm sustained to her physical and emotional health. She included claims against her former supervisors, claiming that they violated her rights under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and were liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that violations of Title VII and the ADA may not be brought through section 1983, given the comprehensive administrative scheme established by Title VII and the ADA. Those statutes require plaintiffs to comply with particular procedures and/or to exhaust particular administrative remedies prior to filing suit. In addition, Williams presented no triable issues of fact on her Title VII claims against the Commission. View "Williams v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission" on Justia Law

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At voir dire for Penn’s retrial on felon-in-possession charges, Prospective Juror #207 indicated that jury service would be a hardship because he attended school on a full-time basis, the trial, which would last two-three days and would conflict with his scheduled tonsillectomy, and rescheduling surgery would conflict with basketball preseason practice, which started the following week. The appointment was the earliest that he could secure after getting sick with bronchitis four times; #207 was a varsity basketball player on a basketball scholarship and would be unable to perform activities for two weeks after the surgery. The judge said he had no objection to keeping him, adding, “I don’t believe him . . . if he truly was having surgery on Wednesday, he would have notified the jury office ... and his doctor would send a note.” The student was seated as the ninth juror. The morning after opening statements, the court received a doctor’s note and learned that the surgery could be rescheduled. The judge advised counsel, overruled defense counsel’s objection, excused the student, and seated an alternate juror. Defense counsel argued that the student was African-American and that there was only one other African-American on the jury, a middle-aged woman. The jury convicted Penn. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that making the substitution without findings deprived Penn of his constitutional rights to due process, fundamental fairness, equal protection, and an impartial jury. View "United States v. Penn" on Justia Law

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Tennessee Gas applied to several federal and state agencies seeking approval to build the Orion interstate pipeline project, comprising 12.9 miles of pipeline looping that would transport 135,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day via Pennsylvania. Approximately 99.5% of the new pipeline would run alongside existing pipeline. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit approving the project. Riverkeeper argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to rule on its challenge because PADEP’s order was not final and that PADEP made an erroneous “water dependency” finding and improperly rejected a “compression” alternative to the pipeline project. The Third Circuit concluded that PADEP’s decision was final and upheld the decision on the merits because the agency’s unique interpretation of water dependency was reasonable and worthy of deference. PADEP considered and rejected the compression alternative for reasons that are supported by the record. Where an interstate pipeline project is proposed to be constructed,15 U.S.C. 717f provides “original and exclusive jurisdiction over any civil action for the review of an order or action of a . . . State administrative agency acting pursuant to Federal law to issue . . . any permit, license, concurrence, or approval . . . required under Federal law,” View "Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Secretary, Pennsylvania Department Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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In 1962, PWV leased to Norfolk Southern certain railroad properties, consisting of a 112-mile tract of main line railroad and approximately 20 miles of branch rail lines in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. After securing appropriate regulatory approvals, the Lease went into effect on October 16, 1964. The term of the Lease is 99 years, renewable in perpetuity at the option of Norfolk Southern absent a default. On May 17, 1990, Norfolk Southern entered into a sublease with Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. Wheeling assumed the rights, interests, duties, obligations, liabilities, and commitments of Norfolk Southern as lessee, including the role as principal operator of the Rail Line. In 2011, disputes arose following the proposed sale of an unused branch of the railroad line, a restructuring by PWV and its demand for additional rent and attorney's fees. Norfolk Southern sought a declaration that it was not in default under the terms of the Lease. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s use of course-of-performance evidence, found that PWV had engaged in fraud to obtain Norfolk’s consent to a transaction otherwise prohibited by the Lease. View "Norfolk Southern Railway Co v. Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railroad" on Justia Law