Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

by
The case involves Dr. Gopal Balakrishnan, a former tenured professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), who was dismissed and denied emeritus status following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. The allegations involved a fellow academic, identified as Jane Doe, who was sexually harassed by Balakrishnan at an off-campus academic event, and a UCSC student that Balakrishnan harassed after an off-campus graduation party. Balakrishnan appealed the University's decision, arguing that the University lacked jurisdiction to discipline him because the victims were not University students, that the University misinterpreted and misapplied its own regulations and policies, that he did not receive notice of all charges, and that the sanctions were excessive.The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District affirmed the trial court's judgment denying Balakrishnan's petition. The appellate court rejected the professor's jurisdiction argument, stating that the University's sexual harassment policy applied to both incidents. The court also found that the professor had notice of the charges against him. Lastly, the court held that the sanctions were not excessive given the severity of the professor's conduct. View "Balakrishnan v. The Regents of the University of Cal." on Justia Law

by
The case pertains to J.G. Kern Enterprises, Inc. ("Company") and the National Labor Relations Board ("Board" or "NLRB"). After the Board certified a union to represent the Company's employees, the Company failed to engage in good faith bargaining for almost three months. When negotiations commenced, the Company refused to provide requested information about employee benefit plans. Two months after the certification year ended, the Company withdrew recognition from the Union, alleging the Union had lost its majority status.The Union filed unfair labor practice charges against the Company. The Board found that the Company had violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act by delaying bargaining, refusing to consider a Union-administered benefit plan, refusing to provide requested information, and withdrawing recognition from the Union during the extended certification year.The Company petitioned for review, arguing that the Board erred in finding an unlawful withdrawal of Union recognition based on a retroactive extension of the original certification year, and that the Board had no legal basis to order the Company to bargain with the Union for an additional six months.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that substantial evidence supported the Board's findings that the Company committed the alleged unfair labor practices. The court concluded that the Board was free to choose which legal theory to rely on in addressing the unfair labor practice charges and that the Board acted within its discretion when it ordered an extension of the certification year and required the parties to bargain to remedy the Company’s unfair labor practices. The court, therefore, denied the Company’s petition for review and granted the Board’s cross-petition for enforcement of its order. View "J.G. Kern Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

by
This case involves a challenge to a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision against NCRNC, LLC, which operates the Northeast Center for Rehabilitation and Brain Injury. The NLRB found Northeast guilty of several unfair labor practices, including unlawful surveillance of its employees.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the petition to review the NLRB's decision and granted the Board’s cross-petition for enforcement, but found one exception. The court ruled that the NLRB erred in concluding that the distribution of informational flyers by Northeast to its employees constituted unlawful surveillance. The court held that this act was an exercise of free speech protected by Section 8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act.However, the court did find substantial evidence to uphold the NLRB's finding of unlawful surveillance based on Northeast implementing its Manager on Duty program. The program led to an increased presence of managers in the facility during a union drive, with the objective of monitoring employees and looking for "suspicious activities" to uncover which employees were "for the Union". The court deemed this behavior a significant departure from prior practice and a violation of employees' rights. View "NCRNC, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

by
The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed a decision made by the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) that included corrections unit case managers within the protective service bargaining unit (PSBU), represented by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #88 (FOP 88). The case arose from a petition filed by FOP 88 to the CIR to clarify or amend the PSBU to include corrections unit case managers. The State of Nebraska appealed the CIR's decision, arguing that corrections unit case managers were supervisors and, hence, should not be in the same bargaining unit as their subordinates. The court deemed the CIR had erred in giving preclusive effect to its 2018 order, which certified FOP 88 as the bargaining representative for the PSBU. The court held that the issue of whether corrections unit case managers were part of the PSBU was not precluded by the 2018 order. The court remanded the matter back to the CIR to again determine whether the PSBU includes corrections unit case managers based on the existing record, with instructions to provide an explanation forming the basis for its ruling. View "Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #88 v. State" on Justia Law

by
The case involves an appeal by Marianne Wayland against her former employer, OSF Healthcare System. Wayland alleged that OSF violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by failing to adjust performance expectations to reflect her reduced hours while she was on approved medical leave, and subsequently firing her. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of OSF, concluding that it fired Wayland for justifiable reasons based on her performance.Wayland appealed this decision arguing that there was a genuine dispute of material fact over the amount of approved leave she took. The Circuit Court agreed, finding that if Wayland's testimony about the amount of leave she took is believed, a jury could find that OSF unlawfully failed to adjust its performance expectations by properly accounting for her leave when evaluating her.The Circuit Court also noted that a jury could potentially find that OSF interfered with or retaliated against Wayland's use of leave by holding her to the same standards as when she worked full time, and then firing her for falling short. It found that there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine question about whether OSF's reasons for firing Wayland were pretextual, highlighting that OSF did not tell Wayland that poor performance would lead to discharge and set goals that were potentially impossible to meet.The Circuit Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Wayland v. OSF Healthcare System" on Justia Law

by
A company named Coreslab Structures was found to have violated several provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The court affirmed the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) findings that Coreslab had engaged in unfair labor practices, including unilateral changes to its pension and profit-sharing plans, discrimination against union members, interference with an employee's right to speak with union representatives, and withdrawal of recognition from the union.Coreslab, which produces bridge components and other structural materials at its facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had recognized the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 627, AFL-CIO (the Union) as the bargaining representative of the company’s production and maintenance employees from 2004 until 2019. Starting in 2011, Coreslab made pension contributions only for hours worked by unit employees who were members of the Union, while providing annual profit-sharing payments to non-Union bargaining unit employees.The court held that substantial evidence supported the Board's findings that the Union lacked knowledge of the pension contribution/profit-sharing scheme until Coreslab informed the Union in September 2019. The court further held that Coreslab violated the NLRA by discriminating against union members and failing to bargain collectively with the Union. It also found that Coreslab's withdrawal of recognition from the Union was unlawful.However, the court found that the Board exceeded its statutory authority by ordering back-payments without offset and requiring Coreslab to retain the unlawfully-created profit-sharing program. The court remanded the case to the Board for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Coreslab Structures v. NLRB" on Justia Law

by
The case was an appeal by the Continental Cement Company (Continental) against a decision by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The Commission had determined that Continental had acted discriminatorily towards one of its employees, Tara Otten, by paying her less than she would have earned had she been working, instead of accompanying mine inspectors during an inspection, an activity known as her "walkaround right".Otten was a miner and designated miners' representative who had been trained to operate mobile equipment. Normally, she would receive a higher wage when operating this equipment. However, when she was performing her walkaround duty, Continental had stopped paying her the higher wage. This action was directed by a human resources specialist at Continental, who based the decision on the collective bargaining agreement.Otten subsequently filed a complaint against Continental with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Secretary of Labor filed a discrimination claim on Otten's behalf with the Commission. The Commission sided with the Secretary, agreeing that Continental had discriminated against Otten by causing her to suffer a loss of pay because she exercised her walkaround right. The Commission further held that Continental's decision was motivated by Otten's protected activity.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, however, disagreed with the Commission's decision. The Court held that while Otten did suffer a loss of pay, which was a violation of the law, it did not automatically mean that Continental had discriminated against Otten. The Court clarified that discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally treats a person worse because of a protected characteristic. In this case, the Court found no evidence that Continental paid Otten less for the reason that she exercised her walkaround right. The Court, therefore, reversed the Commission's determination that Continental violated the discrimination law. View "Continental Cement Company v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

by
This case revolves around the plaintiff, Cindy L. Moll, who made allegations of gender-based discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer of her job site, and discriminatory or retaliatory termination of her employment against her former employer, Telesector Resources Group Inc., in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New York State Human Rights Law. She also claimed she was paid less than her male co-workers for similar work, violating Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.The United States District Court for the Western District of New York initially granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, dismissing all of the plaintiff's claims. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated parts of the district court's judgment and remanded for trial.Regarding the hostile work environment claim, the Court of Appeals concluded that the district court erred in finding that the plaintiff failed to present a prima facie case. The Court of Appeals noted the district court's failure to take all the circumstances into account and to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.In relation to the retaliatory transfer claim, the Court of Appeals held that the district court failed to view the record in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. It disagreed with the district court's conclusion that the transfer of the plaintiff's job site to Syracuse was not an adverse employment action and found that the district court ignored evidence that could support a finding of causation.As for the discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment claim, the Court of Appeals found that the district court did not adhere to the summary judgment principles. It concluded that the record revealed genuine issues as to all of the elements of the plaintiff's claim that the defendant's decision to transfer her job site to Syracuse violated Title VII's prohibition against retaliation.Finally, concerning the Equal Pay Act claim, the Court of Appeals held that there were genuine issues of material fact to be tried. It pointed out that the district court failed to adequately account for the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of some of the plaintiff's other claims but vacated the judgment as to the claims of hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer, discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment, and the Equal Pay Act claim as to one of the plaintiff's identified comparators. The case was remanded for trial. View "Moll v. Telesector" on Justia Law

by
The plaintiff, Dana Hohenshelt, filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Golden State Foods Corp., alleging retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, failure to prevent retaliation, and violations of the California Labor Code. Golden State moved to compel arbitration in accordance with their arbitration agreement, and the trial court granted the motion, staying court proceedings. Arbitration began, but Golden State failed to pay the required arbitration fees within the 30-day deadline. Hohenshelt then sought to withdraw his claims from arbitration and proceed in court, citing Golden State's failure to pay as a material breach of the arbitration agreement under California's Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.98. The trial court denied this motion, deeming Golden State's payment, which was made after the deadline but within a new due date set by the arbitrator, as timely.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District disagreed with the trial court's decision. It held that the trial court had ignored the clear language of section 1281.98, which states any extension of time for the due date must be agreed upon by all parties. Golden State's late payment constituted a material breach of the arbitration agreement, regardless of the new due date set by the arbitrator. The court also rejected Golden State's argument that section 1281.98 is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, following precedent from other courts that held these state laws are not preempted because they further the objectives of the Federal Arbitration Act. Therefore, the court granted Hohenshelt's petition for writ of mandate, directing the trial court to lift the stay of litigation. View "Hohenshelt v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiff, Kristin Cosby, claimed that the South Carolina Probation, Parole & Pardon Services (SCPPP) had discriminated against her based on her gender and retaliated against her for filing discrimination complaints in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Cosby had previously worked for SCPPP, left, and then reapplied in 2012. When she was not rehired, Cosby filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found in her favor. SCPPP rehired her, but Cosby alleged that she was subsequently subjected to gender discrimination and retaliation, including being denied a promotion, being investigated for inappropriate relationships with subordinates, and ultimately forced to resign.The court affirmed the district court's granting of summary judgment to SCPPP. The court held that Cosby had failed to establish her gender discrimination claim under both the disparate treatment and hostile work environment theories. For the disparate treatment claim, Cosby failed to identify a valid comparator — a similarly situated individual of a different gender who was treated more favorably. In her hostile work environment claim, Cosby's internal complaint did not constitute protected activity under Title VII because it did not oppose an unlawful employment practice. The court also found no causal connection between Cosby's 2012 EEOC charge and any adverse employment action taken by SCPPP in 2018, defeating her retaliation claim. View "Cosby v. South Carolina Probation, Parole & Pardon Services" on Justia Law