ELIZABETH CARRASQUILLO-ORTIZ; CARMEN GUZMÁN-VÁZQUEZ; DANIEL OUVIÑA; VÍCTOR RIVERA; MATILDE RODRÍGUEZ-NOA; BRENDA ENID VÁZQUEZ-DÍAZ; FRED VOLTAGGIO-DE JESÚS, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant, Appellee.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO, Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr., U.S. District
Alfredo Fernández-Martínez, with whom Delgado &
Fernández, LLC, was on brief, for appellants.
Enjamio, with whom Hunton & Williams LLP was on brief, for
Thompson, Hawkins, [*] and Barron, Circuit Judges.
BARRON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
appeal concerns the proper interpretation of Article 3 of
Puerto Rico's Law No. 80 ("Law 80"). In
January, we certified a question to the Supreme Court of
Puerto Rico to aid in our resolution of the case. We now have
the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico's response, and, on that
basis, we affirm the District Court.
briefly recap, Article 3 requires companies that operate in
Puerto Rico to pay a statutory severance, called a
"mesada, " to certain employees in Puerto Rico who
are terminated as part of a downsizing or restructuring when
less senior employees in their job category are permitted to
remain. The plaintiffs are former employees of defendant
American Airlines, Inc. ("American"), who contend
American owes them a mesada.
parties agree that American owed the plaintiffs a mesada only
if American was required by Article 3 to compute seniority
within the plaintiffs' job category based on "all
the employees of the company, that is to say, taking into
consideration all of its offices, " P.R. Laws Ann. tit.
29, § 185c(b), rather than based on only employees in
the same office as the employee who has been terminated. And
the parties agree that this method of computing seniority
applies only to companies "whose regular and usual
practice is to transfer its employees from one unit to
another." Id. Their key dispute is over whether
American's transfers between its lone Puerto Rico office
and its offices in other jurisdictions count as relevant
transfers for the purposes of Article 3.
District Court agreed with American that such transfers did
not count, and it therefore granted American's motion for
summary judgment. The District Court based this conclusion on
the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico's decision in Reyes
Sánchez v. Eaton Elec., 189 P.R. Dec. 586 (2013).
There, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico stated that the
analysis of employer transfer activity under Article 3 of Law
80 "is limited to determining the frequency of transfers
of employees between the company's establishments in the
jurisdiction of Puerto Rico." Id. at 608
(certified translation at 24).
appeal then followed, and, after hearing argument in
November, we certified a question to the Supreme Court of
Puerto Rico in January regarding Reyes
Sánchez. In our opinion certifying the question,
we noted that the statement in Reyes Sánchez
on which the District Court relied, standing alone, supported
American's position. Carrasquillo-Ortiz v. Am.
Airlines, Inc., 812 F.3d 195, 197 (1st Cir. 2016). But,
we explained, the defendant company in Reyes
Sánchez apparently operated only as a separate
subsidiary in Puerto Rico and thus made no transfers between
an office in Puerto Rico and an office outside of Puerto Rico
that was part of the same corporate entity. Id. at
197-98. American, by contrast, operates as one corporate
entity worldwide and so makes transfers only within the same
corporate entity. Id. We thus asked in our
certification request whether the Reyes
Sánchez Court's statement that the transfer
analysis under Article 3 is limited to those "between
the company's establishments in the jurisdiction of
Puerto Rico, " 189 P.R. Dec. at 608 (certified
translation at 24) applied "where the employer has one
office in Puerto Rico and multiple offices in other
jurisdictions and operates all of its offices under the same
corporate entity." Carrasquillo-Ortiz, 812 F.3d
resolution issued on May 6, 2016, the Supreme Court of Puerto
Rico responded to our request by denying certification on the
ground that Reyes Sánchez "held that the
scope of [Article 3] is limited to an analysis of personnel
movements between an enterprise's establishments in
Puerto Rico and those made out of the Commonwealth are not
considered." Because this resolution makes clear that
the holding of Reyes Sánchez covers cases in
which the defendant employer operates as one corporate entity
worldwide, and because American has only one office in Puerto
Rico, American does not make transfers that could trigger the
method for computing seniority that would benefit the
plaintiffs. Accordingly, Reyes Sánchez
requires that we affirm the District Court's
grant of summary judgment to American.
the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation.
 The plaintiffs have represented this
to us throughout this litigation, and American has never