Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
Morales v. Factor Surfaces LLC
Morales accepted a full-time position at Factor, a flooring store, in 2016. His duties included cleaning the warehouse, accepting shipments, making deliveries to job site locations, picking up tile from distributors, and assisting customers in the selection of tile. Morales’s regular hours were Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Beginning March 9, 2018, Morales no longer worked every Saturday. After asking Factor to be compensated for overtime hours, Morales was terminated.Morales sued, seeking unpaid overtime wages, meal and rest break compensation, statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements, and alleging retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The trial court entered a $99,394.16 judgment in favor of Morales, which included $42,792.00 in unpaid overtime wages. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the trial court erred in calculating Morales’s regular rate of pay for purposes of determining the amounts owed to Morales for unpaid overtime. The court calculated Morales’s regular rate of pay by dividing his weekly paychecks by 40, the number of non-overtime hours Morales worked per week. If the employer has failed to keep records required by statute, the consequences for such failure should fall on the employer. View "Morales v. Factor Surfaces LLC" on Justia Law
SEIU-USWW v. Preferred Building Services, Inc.
Janitors worked for VPM providing janitorial services at a residential complex (the Site). VPM and the Union executed an agreement, providing that, if VPM terminated its janitorial contract with the Site, VPM would offer a severance package to employees who executed an agreement stating they were voluntarily resigning and releasing all claims against VPM. The Termination Agreement stated: “[N]either the Union nor any bargaining unit employee waives any rights under the Displaced Janitors Opportunity Act to require any successor employer to offer employment to existing employees ” VPM terminated its janitorial contract with the Site. Janitors signed Separation Agreements stating the employee was voluntarily resigning, providing lump-sum payments, and releasing all claims against VPM. Days later, Successor began providing janitorial services at the Site; Janitors appeared at the Site and asserted their right to retention. Successor did not retain any of the Janitors.Plaintiffs sued Successor under the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act (Lab. Code 1060–1065; DJOA), and the Displaced Worker Protection Act. The court of appeal affirmed an award of summary judgment and attorney fees in favor of the Union and Janitors. The court rejected arguments concerning the “voluntary resignations” and that VPM stopped providing services a few days before the nominal end of the contract and, therefore, had no employees “at the time of contract termination.” View "SEIU-USWW v. Preferred Building Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc.
Railey clocked in and out of work at the Sunset Food Mart by placing her hand on a biometric scanner. She brought a class action in state court in 2019 alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Two years into litigation, Sunset removed the case to federal court, alleging that Railey’s claims were completely preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. Sunset explained the timing of the removal by pointing to an interrogatory response it received from Railey in October 2020 in which she confirmed her membership in a labor union.The district court found Sunset’s removal untimely. Citing the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the remand to state court. A Class Action Fairness Act exception for “home-state controversies” directs that district courts “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction” over a class action in which “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed,” 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(4)(B). Railey brought a putative class action on behalf of Illinois citizens against a small Illinois grocery chain under Illinois law. Sunset missed its preemption-based removal window. View "Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc." on Justia Law
Mallet & Co., Inc. v. Lacayo
In 2019, Mallet learned that Bundy was its newest competitor in the sale of baking release agents, the lubricants that allow baked goods to readily separate from the containers in which they are made. Bundy was well-known for other commercial baking products when it launched a new subsidiary, Synova, to sell baking release agents. Synova hired two Mallet employees, both of whom had substantial access to Mallet’s proprietary information. That information from Mallet helped Synova rapidly develop, market, and sell release agents to Mallet’s customers.Mallet sued, asserting the misappropriation of its trade secrets. The district court issued a preliminary injunction. restraining Bundy, Synova, and those employees from competing with Mallet. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for further consideration of what, if any, equitable relief is warranted and what sum Mallet should be required to post in a bond as “security … proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” A preliminary injunction predicated on trade secret misappropriation must adequately identify the allegedly misappropriated trade secrets. If the district court decides that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted, the injunction must be sufficiently specific in its terms and narrowly tailored in its scope. View "Mallet & Co., Inc. v. Lacayo" on Justia Law
Breiterman v. United States Capitol Police
Breiterman was subjected to three disciplinary actions imposed by her employer, the U.S. Capitol Police. She was suspended after commenting to fellow employees that women had to “sleep with someone” to get ahead. She was later placed on administrative leave and ultimately demoted for leaking a picture of an unattended Police firearm to the press. Although Breiterman admitted to this misconduct, she sued the Police, alleging sex discrimination, retaliation in violation of the Congressional Accountability Act, 2 U.S.C. 1301, and unlawful retaliation for speech protected by the First Amendment.The D.C. Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Police. The Police provided legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for suspending Breiterman, placing her on administrative leave during an investigation into the media leak, and demoting her from a supervisory position; nothing in the record would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that those reasons were a pretext for discrimination or retaliation. Supervisors are entrusted with greater authority than officers, held to a higher standard, and disciplined more severely than officers for similar violations, so Breiterman’s nonsupervisory comparators are too dissimilar to draw any inference of discriminatory treatment. Even assuming some procedural deviation occurred, the deviations were not so irregular as to indicate unlawful discrimination. View "Breiterman v. United States Capitol Police" on Justia Law
Hernandez v. Plastipak Packaging, Inc.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiff in an action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). After considering the FLSA, the Supreme Court's decision in Overnight Motor Transportation Co. v. Missel, 316 U.S. 572 (1942), as well as the Department of Labor's regulatory guidance, the court held that Plastipak paying plaintiff bonuses—a shift premium for night work and holiday pay—on top of his fixed salary does not preclude the use of the fluctuating workweek method. The court explained that so long as an employee receives a fixed salary covering every hour worked in a week, the payment of a bonus on top of the employee's fixed salary does not bar an employer's use of the fluctuating workweek method to calculate overtime pay. Therefore, the district court erred in concluding otherwise. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hernandez v. Plastipak Packaging, Inc." on Justia Law
Edwards v. Commonwealth
In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court judge denying the Commonwealth's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's complaint alleging wrongful termination under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 185, the Massachusetts whistleblower act, holding that there was no error.In 2014, Governor Deval Patrick dismissed Plaintiff from her position as chair of the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), stating to the media that Plaintiff had improperly interfered in a sex offender classification proceeding and had attempted inappropriately to influence the hearing examiner. Plaintiff brought this complaint against Patrick for defamation and against the Commonwealth for wrongful termination. The claims against Patrick were dismissed, but the superior court denied the Commonwealth's motion for summary judgment on the remaining whistleblower claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained in dispute, precluding summary judgment in favor of the Commonwealth. View "Edwards v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law
Sassi v. Mobile Life Support Services, Inc.
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the appellate division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, his former employers, violated the antidiscrimination statutes by denying his application for employment following the completion of his criminal sentence. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff adequately alleged a violation of the antidiscrimination statutes. View "Sassi v. Mobile Life Support Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Peterson v. Nelnet Diversified Solutions
Over 300 call-center representatives (CCRs) who worked at call centers operated by Nelnet Diversified Solutions, LLC (Nelnet) alleged Nelnet failed to pay them for time devoted to booting up their work computers and launching certain software before they clock in. The district court concluded these activities were integral and indispensable to the CCRs’ principal activities of servicing student loans by communicating and interacting with borrowers over the phone and by email and therefore constitute compensable work under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. But it nevertheless denied the CCRs’ claim, finding that the de minimis doctrine applied to excuse Nelnet’s obligation to pay the CCRs for this work. After granting summary judgment to Nelnet, the district court awarded costs to Nelnet as the prevailing party. The CCRs appealed the district court’s de minimis ruling, and separately appealed the district court’s order awarding prevailing-party costs to Nelnet. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the CCRs’ preshift activities were compensable work under the FLSA. But its application of the three-factor de minimis doctrine leads it to a different result: the Tenth Circuit concluded that although the CCRs’ individual and total aggregate claims were relatively small, Nelnet failed to establish the practical administrative difficulty of estimating the time at issue, which occured with "exceeding regularity." Therefore, in Appeal No. 19-1348, the district court’s order awarding summary judgment to Nelnet was reversed. And because the Court reversed on the merits, Nelnet was no longer the prevailing party. Accordingly, in Appeal No. 20-1217, the district court's order awarding costs to Nelnet was reversed, and CCR's costs appeal was dismissed as moot. View "Peterson v. Nelnet Diversified Solutions" on Justia Law
Carrasco v. State Personnel Bd.
Plaintiff-appellant Jenaro Carrasco worked as a parole agent for real party in interest Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (department) for five years. He was promoted to the position of special agent and was subject to a 12-month probationary period. The department served Carrasco with a notice of rejection before the end of the probationary period and stated six reasons for the rejection. Carrasco challenged his rejection before defendant-respondent the State Personnel Board (the board) and, when the board upheld his rejection, he petitioned the superior court for a writ of administrative mandamus. At the conclusion of the administrative and superior court proceedings, only two of the reasons given for Carrasco’s rejection were found to have been supported by substantial evidence. However, both the board and the superior court concluded Government Code section 19175 did not mandate reinstatement if less than all the reasons given for the rejection were upheld. In addition, the board and the superior court concluded the department had not acted in bad faith when it rejected Carrasco. Therefore, the superior court denied Carrasco’s petition. After review, the Court of Appeal concurred with the board and superior court, and affirmed the superior court's judgment. View "Carrasco v. State Personnel Bd." on Justia Law