Saturday, February 18, 2006

What's the point of removing a state law claim based on federal law

According to this Jottings post, the Sixth Circuit reversed summary judgment for the employer and sent the case back to state court in Eastman v. Marine Mechanical Corp., where the plaintiff sued claiming wrongful discharge citing two federal laws as the underlying public policy and the employer removed the case. The Court said: "We hold, however, that the plaintiff’s state-law employment claim alleging wrongful discharge in violation of federal public policy does not raise a substantial federal question over which federal courts may exercise original or removal jurisdiction. . . ."

This outcome is in accord with the en banc Fourth Circuit's ruling in the rebel flag lunch box case, about reversing the panel decision about which I wrote here:

"Here, though, the claim is a creation of state law, and to say that the statute involves "a substantial question of federal law" is just not true, or if is true, the federal right applies only to state actors. In Kentucky, KRS 344.040 "mirrors Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" and therefore all the courts applying it, both state and federal, literally "use the federal standards for evaluating race discrimination claims." Smith v. Leggett Wire Co., 220 F.3d 752, 758 (6th Cir. 2000). Judge Goodwin (being from West Virginia) cites a similar West Virginia law in his dissent. By Judge Gregory's logic, all those claims are removable, but they're not. It might be good for employers if they were."

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