Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the Benefit Review Board's decision affirming the ALJ's award of disability benefits to an employee of a defense contractor under the Defense Base Act (DBA), which extends workers' compensation benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act to certain employees of U.S. government contractors working overseas.In this case, the employee alleged that his injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment, thereby establishing a prima facie case for benefits under the LHWCA. The court held that the record supports the Board's conclusion that petitioner failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that the named defendants were not employers. Therefore, the Board did not err when it affirmed the ALJ's finding that the employee's claims were not barred under Section 933(g) of the LHWCA. View "G4S International Employment Services (Jersey), Ltd. v. Newton-Sealey" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff won a substantial arbitration award against his former employer, the employer sought vacatur in federal court. The district court agreed with the employer, Citi, that plaintiff had been an at-will employee and thus the arbitrators exceeded their powers by finding that he had been wrongfully terminated.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's vacatur of the arbitration award, holding that plaintiff and Citi agreed to arbitrate all disputes about plaintiff's employment. The court stated that, under the Federal Arbitration Act, the merits of plaintiff's dispute were committed to the arbitrators and Citi does not get to start over in federal court because it identifies a possible legal error in arbitration. Therefore, the district court erred by substituting its own legal judgment for that of the arbitrators. View "Gherardi v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor determining that sergeants in the Yankton Police Department are ineligible for membership in a collective bargaining unit because they have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions, holding that the circuit court erred in disturbing the Department's findings and conclusions.The City of Yankton filed a request with the Department to define the membership of a collective bargaining unit. After a hearing, the Department found that police sergeants have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring and are thus excluded from membership in the collective bargaining unit. The circuit court reversed, holding that sergeants should be included in bargaining unit membership. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the Department's relevant findings of fact were inadequate and that its conclusions of law were incorrect; and (2) the circuit court erred in determining that sergeants have no authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions. View "Fraternal Order Of Police v. City Of Yankton" on Justia Law

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After the Board certified two groups of employees of STP to join a collective bargaining unit represented by the Union, STP refused to recognize and bargain with the Union on the basis that its "unit supervisors" and "maintenance supervisors" are excluded from the bargaining unit pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act.The Fifth Circuit reversed the Board's bargaining order and denied enforcement, holding that the Board's conclusions that the employees are not statutory supervisors are premised on errors of law and lack substantial evidence. In this case, the Board lacked substantial evidence to find that unit supervisors do not "responsibly direct" work and maintenance supervisors do not "assign" work. Therefore, STP's unit supervisors and maintenance supervisors are statutory supervisors under 29 U.S.C. 152(11). View "STP Nuclear Operating Co. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that deduction of union dues from plaintiffs' paychecks violated the First Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), held that compelling nonmembers to subsidize union speech is offensive to the First Amendment.The panel held that plaintiffs' claims against the union fails under section 1983 for lack of state action, a threshold requirement. The panel also held that plaintiffs' First Amendment claim for prospective relief against Washington state also fails because employees affirmatively consented to deduction of union dues. The panel stated that Janus did not extend a First Amendment right to avoid paying union dues, and in no way created a new First Amendment waiver requirement for union members before dues are deducted pursuant to a voluntary agreement. The panel further held that neither state law nor the collective bargaining agreement compels involuntary dues deduction and neither violates the First Amendment. Therefore, in the face of their voluntary agreement to pay union dues and in the absence of any legitimate claim of compulsion, the district court appropriately dismissed the First Amendment claim against Washington. View "Belgau v. Inslee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Dana Fedor appealed a district court’s order compelling her to arbitrate employment-related claims she brought against her former employer, UnitedHealthcare, Inc. (UHC), and United Healthcare Services, Inc. Fedor argued the district court impermissibly compelled arbitration before first finding that she and UHC had indeed formed the arbitration agreement underlying the district court’s decision. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed, concluding that the issue of whether an arbitration agreement was formed in the first instance had to be determined by the court, even where there has been a failure to specifically challenge provisions within the agreement delegating certain decisions to an arbitrator. Judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Fedor v. United Healthcare" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition filed by United Nurses and Allied Professionals (the Union) for review of the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) ruling that lobbying expenses are categorically not chargeable to objecting employees, holding that unions cannot require objectors to contribute toward lobbying costs.Jeanette Geary worked as a nurse at a Rhode Island hospital where the Union was the exclusive bargaining representative. Geary challenged the Union's decision to charge her for some of its 2009 lobbying expenses and to refuse her a letter verifying that its expenses were examined by an independent auditor. The Board ruled in favor of Geary. The First Circuit upheld the decision, holding (1) the Board's decision on the Union's lobbying expenses comported with Supreme Court decisions addressing the changeability of lobbying expenses by public-sector unions; and (2) the Board's determination requiring the Union to provide Geary a letter signed by an auditor verifying that the financial information disclosed to the objectors had been independently audited was reasonable. View "United Nurses & Allied Professional v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the Unions' request for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the implementation of three Executive Orders relating to federal labor-management relations. The Orders and Guidances issued by President Trump address collective bargaining, work time for representational activities, and discipline and discharge.After an independent review of the record and relevant case law, the court affirmed for substantially the reasons set forth by the district court in its carefully reasoned December 10, 2019 decision and order. The district court held that (1) it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Unions' substantive Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim; and (2) the Unions' procedural APA claim was unlikely to succeed on the merits because the Guidances were not subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking as the Orders were "presumptively legally binding" and the Guidances "did nothing more than summarize the legally binding . . . Orders." View "Service Employees International Union Local 200 v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate an award of medical-service reimbursement to Diana Garringer for a right reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty, holding that the Commission did not abuse its discretion.Garringer injured her right shoulder while working for Omni Manor. The next year, the Commission granted Garringer's request for medical-service reimbursement for a reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty. Omni Manor requested a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its order granting the reimbursement request. The court of appeals denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission correctly applied the standard set forth in State ex rel. Miller v. Industrial Commission, 643 N.E.2d 113 (Ohio 1994); and (2) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in considering certain evidence. View "State ex rel. Omni Manor, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former medical school professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, filed suit against various professors and school administrators under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that they violated his Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process rights. Defendants voted to recommend firing plaintiff after conducting a hearing to address a student's sexual harassment claim against him.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity and rendered judgment in favor of defendants, holding that plaintiff's deprivations of due process were not clearly established constitutional rights. In this case, the court found no merit in plaintiff's claim that one of the defendants was not impartial because the defendant knew the accuser in a university proceeding, and concluded that this was not enough to establish a due process claim of bias. The court also held that, although the Committee should have heard the accuser's testimony, it was not clearly established at the time that, in university disciplinary hearings where the outcome depends on credibility, the Due Process Clause demands the opportunity to confront witnesses or some reasonable alternative. Therefore, the district court erred in denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Walsh v. Hodge" on Justia Law