Division II: People's Popeyes Suit Mostly Punted Under Federal Enclave Doctrine, Negligent Hiring & Retention Case Remains
Now this is a case title I can get behind! Who doesn’t love chicken? Let alone BEST chicken! It almost sounds like the CEO is trying to evoke a Best Korea vibe. Anyhow, lets read the opinion.
Holy crud! This involves Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits! I do love me some Popeye’s!
Okay, so why was Leon People’s suing? Ahhhh, employment suit based on sexual orientation. Well that’s a lot less fun than biscuits and chicken. Did I mention I haven’t yet had lunch. I mean, I’ll probably do something pseudo-healthy, like Pho. But chicken and biscuits, or chicken and waffles…chicken and any bready thing…just sounds ultra delicious.
Anyhow, Popeye’s moved for summary judgment based on the Federal Enclave Doctrine. I had to look this one up, seeing as I don’t really do employment law…let alone employment law dealing with enclaves of any sort:
The U.S. Constitution provides that the federal government has exclusive legislative rights over certain federal territories – such as military bases, courthouses, and other official properties – if a state consents to the purchase of the territory. These territories are known as "federal enclaves." In practical terms, the federal enclave doctrine provides a little known, but potentially powerful, defense for employers that perform work in federal enclaves because often only federal law will apply in those locations. The application of federal law to work performed in federal enclaves is significant because state employment laws may give rise to more plaintiff-friendly remedies and longer statutes of limitations than their federal counterparts. Significantly, the doctrine has been recognized to preclude state law wage and hour class actions. In addition, because the doctrine gives rise to federal law claims exclusively, it may form the basis to remove a lawsuit from state to federal court.
Credit where credit is due: I got this from Littler. Read more here (it really is fascinating stuff).
See, this is the part I missed. The Popeye’s in question, its on JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McCord). For a second I was operating under the hopeful delusion that they had installed a Popeye’s in the Federal Courthouse. That would have been a MIRACLE. Sadly, however, I do not have access to JBLM. The Popeye’s Website lists one in Renton, and one in Bremerton. It does not, however, list on on JBLM. I can only assume then that this mysterious location is frequented by CIA Agents and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So basically, the way this law works is if the law existed at the time the land was brought under government ownership (i.e. - ceded from Washington), then you might have a claim. The Washington Law Against Discrimination did not exist until well after that. Same with the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Same with the Tort of Outrage at common law. The tort of negligent hiring and retention did, though. That claim survives.
So why fight so hard to keep this in state court? Well, as it turns out People’s did not exhaust his administrative remedies prior to suing, which is a bar to a federal cause of action. So yeah, that’s this case.
Who wants Popeyes?