Campbell v. National Passenger Railroad Corporation et al

Filing 326

ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken DENYING 293 Defendant's Motion to Stay Reinstatement Pending Appeal (cwlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/30/2009)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation moves for a stay, pending appeal of the final judgment, of the Court's injunction requiring reinstatement of Plaintiff John Earl Campbell. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, "While an appeal is pending from an interlocutory order or final judgment that grants, dissolves, or denies an injunction, the court may suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction on terms for bond or other terms that secure the opposing party's rights." A v. NATIONAL PASSENGER RAILROAD CORPORATION, et al., Defendants. / JOHN EARL CAMPBELL, Plaintiff, No. C 05-5434 CW ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY REINSTATEMENT PENDING APPEAL (Docket No. 293) IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA party seeking a stay must show either (1) a strong likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal and the possibility of irreparable harm, or (2) that serious questions regarding the merits exist and the balance of hardships tips sharply in its 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 favor. See Golden Gate Restaurant Ass'n v. City and County of San These two Francisco, 512 F.3d 1112, 1115-16 (9th Cir. 2008). alternatives "represent two points on a sliding scale in which the required degree of irreparable harm increases as the probability of success decreases." marks omitted). Id. at 1116 (citation and internal quotation A court must "consider where the public interest lies separately from and in addition to whether the applicant for stay will be irreparably injured absent a stay." internal quotation and alteration marks omitted). Defendant has not shown a strong likelihood that it will succeed on the merits of its appeal, or even raised serious questions regarding the merits. admission of evidence at trial. Defendant challenges the Court's However, the cases cited in Id. (citation and Defendant's motion were already considered and its arguments remain unpersuasive for the reasons set out in this Court's Order of August 21, 2009 denying Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial, and Granting in Part Plaintiff's Motion for Pre-Judgment Interest and Injunctive Relief (Docket No. 280). Defendant cites NLRB v. Western Clinical Laboratory, Inc., 571 F.2d 457 (9th Cir. 1978). There, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that an employer had committed an unfair labor practice by firing an employee for his union activities and ordered him reinstated. Id. at 459. The court vacated the NLRB's order requiring the reinstatement of the employee and remanded the case to the Board to resolve conflicting evidence on the employee's competence. The court stated that "reinstatement is not warranted when that remedy would not effectuate the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act, and the policies of the Act do not require the 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 reinstatement of employees who are not fit to carry out the responsibilities of the jobs from which they were illegally discharged." Id. at 460. The case bears no similarities to this one on the facts or the law. Here, the Court ordered Plaintiff's reinstatement pursuant to the jury's finding that his termination was based on racial discrimination. In Title VII cases, reinstatement is the Gotthardt v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 191 Although "preferred remedy." F.3d 1148, 1156 (9th Cir. 1999) (editing marks omitted). "awards of front pay are appropriate when it is impossible to reinstate the plaintiff," id., Defendant does not argue here, nor did it argue in its papers opposing Plaintiff's request for equitable relief, that reinstatement is impossible. Court's order to reinstate Plaintiff is proper. Accordingly, Defendant must show a high degree of irreparable harm. It maintains that it will be harmed because "reinstating Mr. Thus, the Campbell would send an adverse message to its employees that willful violation of safety rules will be tolerated, thus leaving it to each employee to determine whether to abide by Amtrak's safety rules." Def.'s Mot. at 5. Defendant cites two cases where the equities were found to justify a stay, neither of which offers support. In United States Postal Service v. National Association of Letter Carriers, Justice Rehnquist stayed an arbitrator's reinstatement order pending a petition for certiorari because the temporary reinstatement of "a convicted criminal" would impair the Postal Service's ability "to impress the seriousness" of its mission upon its workers. 481 U.S. 1301, 1302-03 (Rehnquist, In Exxon Corporation v. Esso 3 Circuit Justice, D.C. Cir. 1987). 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Worker's Union, Inc., the court stayed its order because an arbitrator's reinstatement of an employee who tested positive for cocaine while off duty "would send an adverse message to its employees" that drug use is tolerated. Mass. 1997). 963 F. Supp. 58, 60 (D. Neither case involved race discrimination. Evaluating evidence of safety violations more serious than Plaintiff's, by employees who were not terminated, the jury found that Plaintiff was terminated, not because of his rule violation but because of his race. also presented. Evidence of Plaintiff's competence was Having heard all of the evidence, the Court found it appropriate to reinstate Plaintiff to his position as a yard conductor. The Court did decline to order Defendant to promote Plaintiff to the position of engineer, even though the jury also found race discrimination in the failure to promote. This was because Plaintiff's rule violation was committed after he was evaluated for promotion, and constituted a changed circumstance. Plaintiff's reinstatement will not project the adverse message that may be communicated when an arbitrator orders reinstatement of a convicted criminal or suspected drug user. Indeed, the Court's failure to reinstate Plaintiff, despite being found by a jury to be a victim of race discrimination, could communicate to employees and the public an adverse message that an employer can fire an employee based on his race and the federal courts will not provide a meaningful remedy. Accordingly, Defendant has not shown irreparable harm, nor do the equities weigh in Defendant's favor. Finally, the Court finds that the public's interest is best served by Plaintiff's reinstatement. Defendant was held liable for race discrimination, and the public has an interest in the 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 enforcement of the jury's verdict. For these reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to stay Plaintiff's reinstatement pending appeal (Docket No. 293). Defendant must comply with the Court's injunction (Docket No. 280) within ten days of the date of this order. If Defendant intends to seek a stay from the Ninth Circuit, it must do so within this period of time. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 30, 2009 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 5

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