Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff, a restaurant server, filed suit alleging that he was laid off after about four months when his employer, the Hotel, eliminated all part-time positions. Plaintiff alleged a violation of Santa Monica Municipal Code section 4.66.010 et seq. (the recall ordinance), which provides laid off employees that have been employed by the employer for six months or more with a right to be rehired in certain circumstances.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of a judgment of dismissal following the sustaining of a demurrer by defendants, the Hotel. The court concluded, as did the trial court, that the right of recall does not apply here because plaintiff did not work for the Hotel for "six months or more" before he was involuntarily separated from employment for economic reasons. In this case, plaintiff had a prior stint of employment with the Hotel that lasted about ten months, which ended when he voluntarily resigned due to scheduling difficulties. The court explained that the purpose of the recall ordinance is to protect employees who were involuntarily laid off due to economic circumstances—not to protect employees who quit for personal reasons. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff's earlier period of employment that ended with his voluntary resignation does not count toward the six-month minimum period of employment, leaving him ineligible for recall under the ordinance. Accordingly, plaintiff failed to state a cause of action under the recall ordinance. Finally, the court concluded that the Tameny claim was not well pled because there was no violation of the recall ordinance on which the Tameny claim was based. Furthermore, a Tameny claim must be predicated on a fundamental public policy that is expressed in a constitutional or statutory provision, as opposed to a public policy that finds expression in a municipal ordinance. View "Bruni v. The Edward Thomas Hospitality Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Navy published a job announcement for an Event Forum Project Chief, a full-time, permanent, GS-13/14-grade position. Two candidates—Beck and Wible—were certified as qualified for the position. Captain Payton selected Wible. Beck, had been in active Navy service from 1984 until his retirement in 2005 and had been promoted through a series of jobs relevant to the posted position. In 2001, Beck earned a bachelor’s degree in business with a GPA of 3.91; he earned a master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Development in 2002. In 2006, Beck rejoined the Navy workforce as a civilian Special-Events Planning Officer (SEPO), a GS-13-1 grade position. Beck had trained Wible. Payton had apparently first shown animosity toward Beck during a meeting in 2010.Beck filed a formal EEO action alleging discrimination based on race, gender, age, and disability, which engendered a retaliatory and hostile work environment. Beck resigned and unsuccessfully eventually sought corrective action from the Merit Systems Protection Board under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.The Federal Circuit reversed in part. Preselection of the successful candidate can buttress an agency’s personnel decision to hire a less qualified candidate only when the preselection is not tainted by an unlawful discriminatory intent. The Board erred in finding that Beck’s non-selection would have occurred regardless of his prior military service as required under 38 U.S.C. 4311(c)(1). View "Beck v. Department of the Navy" on Justia Law

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Rudy Alarcon filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking to invalidate hearing officer Robert Bergeson’s decision upholding the City of Calexico’s (City) termination of Alarcon’s employment as a City police officer. The City filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging Bergeson’s decision to award Alarcon back pay based on his finding that the City failed to provide Alarcon with sufficient predisciplinary notice of allegations that Alarcon had been dishonest during the investigation that led to his termination. The trial court consolidated the petitions and issued a written ruling that denied both petitions. As to Alarcon’s petition, the trial court determined that Alarcon had not met his burden to establish the charges against him were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court also found that the weight of the evidence demonstrated that Alarcon had “used force” and “discourteous language” during the arrest that led to his termination. With respect to the City’s petition, the trial court determined that “the hearing officer’s lengthy finding that the dishonesty charges were not properly noticed does not rise to the level of an abuse of discretion.” After review, the Court of Appeal found no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment with respect to Alarcon; the Court determined the City’s cross- appeal was untimely and should have been dismissed. View "City of Calexico v. Bergeson" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted this writ application to address the specific question of whether there was a cause of action for a writ of mandamus compelling a municipality to satisfy a judgment for back wages owed to its firefighter employees. Based on the ministerial nature of the statutorily and constitutionally mandated duty of the municipality to appropriate funds to satisfy the judgment, the Court found the lower courts erred in sustaining the exception of no cause of action. View "Lowther et al. v. Town of Bastrop" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor denying Taylor Hughes's workers' compensation claim for an alleged work-related back injury, holding that the circuit court correctly held that Hughes was entitled to recover for his injury.After a hearing, the Department determined that Hughes had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that his disability was caused by a workplace injury and that his work activities were a major contributing cause of his disability. The circuit court reversed, determining (1) the Department erred by applying the incorrect standard to the causation of the injury, and (2) the Department's finding that Hughes failed to establish causation was clearly erroneous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly overturned the Department's decision because Hughes proved by a preponderance of the evidence that his injury was work-related and that his employment was a major contributing cause of his current condition. View "Hughes v. Dakota Mill & Grain" on Justia Law

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Robert Smith’s employer, Najjar Lube Centers, Inc. dba Jiffy Lube, held a presentation for its employees to learn about a new Castrol product. Castrol employee Gus Pumarol led the presentation. Smith alleges that Pumarol made several comments to Smith during the presentation that he considered racist and offensive. Smith sued BP Lubricants USA, Inc. dba Castrol (BP) and Pumarol for harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and for discrimination under the Unruh Act. Smith also sued Pumarol for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The trial court sustained BP and Pumarol’s demurrer without leave to amend, and Smith timely appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining BP and Pumarol’s demurrer to Smith’s FEHA claim without leave to amend, but concluded, however, that Smith sufficiently alleged claims for IIED and violation of the Unruh Act. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. BP Lubricants USA Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against T-Mobile and Broadspire, alleging transgender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his treatment while working as a retail employee at a T-Mobile store.The Fifth Circuit held that, under Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), a plaintiff who alleges transgender discrimination is entitled to the same benefits—but also subject to the same burdens—as any other plaintiff who claims sex discrimination under Title VII. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiff does not allege facts sufficient to support an inference of transgender discrimination—that is, that T-Mobile would have behaved differently toward an employee with a different gender identity. The court explained that, where an employer discharged a sales employee who happens to be transgender—but who took six months of leave, and then sought further leave for the indefinite future, that is an ordinary business practice rather than discrimination. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's remaining issues on appeal are likewise meritless. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Olivarez v. T-Mobile USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's lawsuit brought against Defendant, the local district attorney, after Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with a police department by the Town Manager in a town in Penobscot County, Maine, holding that dismissal was proper.Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant alleged that Defendant violated his due process rights by failing to provide him with meaningful notice and opportunity to dispute allegations about his misconduct that Defendant made and allegedly sent in a letter to the Department's police chief that led the Town to its decision. The district court dismissed on state law grounds. The First Circuit affirmed on different grounds, holding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for a due process violation under either the United States or Maine Constitution. View "Roe v. Lynch" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a lieutenant with the Binghamton Police Department, filed suit against the City, the City's mayor, and two Department officials, alleging that he was racially harassed by members of the Department and retaliated against for voicing concerns about discrimination.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim because the complaint does not support an inference that he was punished for engaging in protected speech. Although the complaint does not "enumerate" a claim for discrimination alongside the cause of action for retaliation, the court found that plaintiff does identify a discrimination claim. In this case, the introduction of the complaint specifies that plaintiff brings a "claim for discriminatory conduct based on Hispanic origin . . . pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981." Furthermore, the complaint includes numerous factual allegations sufficient to notify defendants that plaintiffs seeks redress for discriminatory conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part for further proceedings. View "Quinones v. City of Binghamton" on Justia Law

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A complaint was filed with the Board alleging that the Company had violated sections 8(a)(3) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by discharging one employee, laying off another employee, and closing RAV because employees engaged in union activity. The Board reviewed the case after a hearing before an ALJ and issued a decision and order finding that petitioner had committed the unfair labor practices as alleged.The DC Circuit denied a petition for review with respect to the Board's determination that petitioner committed unfair labor practices by terminating one employee and laying off another, concluding that substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion. Therefore, the court enforced the Board's proposed remedies, other than the restoration order and the bargaining order. The court remanded the issues of RAV's closure and the restoration order so that the Board may address the matters raised in this opinion regarding those issues. Furthermore, the Board must determine whether a unit of mechanics formerly employed by Petitioner at 3773 Merritt Avenue still exists, apart from Concrete Express, in a form that makes a bargaining order under the NLRA feasible. View "RAV Truck and Trailer Repairs, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law