Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court with instructions to determine whether excusable neglect extended Plaintiff's time to file the petition for review of the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that Plaintiff's infection was not compensable, holding that the record did not reveal whether the district court considered the question of excusable neglect.Plaintiff scraped his knuckle on a locker as he was getting ready to leave a trona mine, where he worked. The scrape developed necrotizing fasciitis, causing serious injuries. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division, deemed Plaintiff's injury compensable. The OAH served an order concluding that Plaintiff's injuries were not compensable. The district court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff's infection was compensable. Plaintiff's employer appealed, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the petition for judicial review was untimely filed. The Supreme Court remanded the case for the limited purpose of determining whether excusable neglect extended the time for filing a petition for review. View "Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners, Ltd v. Vinson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals and Workers' Compensation Board affirming the determination of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) denying Appellant's motion to reopen his workers' compensation claim as time barred, holding that the CALJ correctly denied Appellant's motion to reopen as untimely.In 1996 and 1997, Appellant incurred work-related injuries to his right and left shoulders. Income benefits were paid for his right shoulder injury, but no mention of the left shoulder injury appeared in the settlement agreement. In 2018, Appellant moved to reopen the left shoulder claim, asserting that he was entitled to income benefits based on a recent surgery and resulting increased impairment. The CALJ denied the motion. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's motion was untimely. View "Slaughter v. Tube Turns" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' opinion affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, holding that Karen Woodall, the surviving spouse of an employee who died as a result of a workplace accident, was entitled to a statutory income benefit and that the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit does not violate the United States and Kentucky constitutional guarantees of equal protection or Kentucky's prohibition against special legislation.Ten years after a workplace injury, Steven Spillman died as a result of a surgery required by that injury. Woodall, Spillman's surviving spouse, sought income benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(1)(a), and Spillman's estate sought a lump-sum benefit under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(6). The Board found that Woodall was eligible for the surviving spouse income benefits but that the Estate was not entitled to the lump-sum death benefit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 342.750(1)(a) contains no temporal limitation on Woodall's receipt of income benefits; and (2) the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit is constitutional. View "Calloway County Sheriff's Department v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) on Mark Hill's claims under the Whistleblower Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.101 et seq., and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 344.010 et seq., holding that Hill's KCRA claims were correctly dismissed but that MSD was not subject to the Whistleblower Act.With respect to Hill's Whistleblower claim, the trial court found that MSD was not to be considered an "employer" under the Whistleblower Act. The court also found that Hill failed to present any affirmative evidence in support of his KCRA claims. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court as to Hill's KCRA claims but reversed as to Hill's Whistleblower claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to the Whistleblower claim, holding that MSD was not an "employer" for purposes of the Whistleblower Act. View "Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems denying Edward Elder's application for disability retirement benefits, holding that the circuit court and the court of appeals misinterpreted this Court's holding in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. West, 413 S.W.3d 578 (Ky. 2013).Elder applied for disability retirement benefits due to a genetic disorder. Systems denied benefits because Elder submitted no pre-employment medical records. In affirming Systems' denial of benefits, the circuit court read West to require submission of pre-employment medical records to prove a disabling condition was asymptomatic and reasonably undiscoverable prior to hiring. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's reading of West and its denial of Elder's claim for disability retirement benefits. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that West imposed no requirement that a claimant submit pre-employment records to disprove the pre-existence of his genetic disorder. View "Elder v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

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Appellant Marivel Santos was employed by respondent Crenshaw Manufacturing, Inc. (Crenshaw) in January 2017 as a machine operator on the production floor. Santos alleged that sometime in the second week of January 2017, she was instructed by her supervisor, Jose Flores, to operate a material-forming machine utilizing a die without any protective guards or cages. Ordinarily, Santos would have had to use both hands to operate the machine. This time, however, Flores instructed her to operate it “from the side using a bypass button.” Using the machine in this manner allowed Santos to operate the machine with her right hand, leaving her left hand free to reach into the machine to “press down the part” being cut. On January 12, 2017, Santos was operating the machine in this fashion when her left hand was crushed underneath the die, mutilating and severely injuring it. She filed a workers’ compensation claim against Crenshaw, and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) investigated. In the 1980s, the California Legislature passed Labor Code section 4558's “power press exception” to the principle of workers’ compensation exclusivity, giving a right of action to employees injured by their employer’s knowing removal of or failure to install a point of operation guard on a power press when required by the manufacturer. In this case, the issue presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on whether the power press exception applied when the manufacturer, 45 years prior to passage of the law, conveyed a more general requirement for guards which went completely unheeded by the present user. Under these unique circumstances, the Court concluded there were triable issues of material fact as to whether the employer violated the statute and reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in the employer’s favor. View "Santos v. Crenshaw Manufacturing, Inc." on Justia Law

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A union representing healthcare network employees learned that the network was being sold to another entity and that the sale agreement contained information bearing on the terms and conditions of its members’ employment. The union asked for a full copy of the agreement for “effects bargaining.” The employer, asserting that the agreement was confidential and not relevant to collective bargaining, refused to provide any of it. The union filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board, which found that at least part of the agreement was relevant and that the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151. The Board ordered the employer to provide a complete, unredacted copy.The Third Circuit affirmed in part. Substantial evidence supported the Board’s conclusion that the employer violated the NLRA. The duty to bargain in good faith includes the general obligation of an employer to provide information that is needed by the bargaining representative for the proper performance of its duties. The Board abused its broad remedial discretion in ordering the employer to disclose the entire agreement; the Union never established the relevance of the entire agreement. When a union requests relevant, yet confidential information, the Board is required to balance a union’s need for the information against any legitimate and substantial confidentiality interests established by the employer. View "Crozer-Chester Medical Center v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts from overtime requirements those employed in an executive, administrative, or professional capacity, 29 U.S.C. 213(a)(1). If an employer violates the overtime requirement, it is liable for unpaid overtime compensation plus an equal amount as liquidated damages. If the employer shows “good faith and that [it] had reasonable grounds for believing that [its] act or omission was not a violation," the court may award no liquidated damages. The FLSA applies to civilian employees of the federal government. In 2007, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) classified Shea’s position, Investigations Specialist, as exempt from the overtime requirements.The Claims Court held that NCIS that it had not willfully misclassified Shea, so that the relevant period started in 2014, and found that Shea’s team leader duty was optional and comprised a minority of the Investigations Specialist position’s duties so that Shea’s primary duty was not management but was “conducting surveillance,” which would not qualify for the administrative exemption. The court awarded Shea compensatory damages and back pay but denied liquidated damages, finding NCIS’s classification decision objectively reasonable and in good faith. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The statute does not require documentation of the original classification decision and requiring frequent classification review would be untenable. Between the position description and the testimony of Shea, his supervisor, and NCIS’s classification witness, the evidence supports the holding that NCIS reasonably believed that Shea’s position had substantial managerial duties. View "Shea v. United States" on Justia Law

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McAllister injured his knee while working as a sous chef for a restaurant. The injury occurred as he stood up from a kneeling position while attempting to retrieve food that had been misplaced in the cooler. He had previously had surgery on the knee and had received workers’ compensation benefits at that time. An arbitrator awarded him workers’ compensation benefits but the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed, finding that the injury did not “arise out of” his employment. The circuit court and the Appellate Court, Workers’ Compensation Commission Division, affirmed.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The injury arose out of an employment-related risk; the acts that caused the injury were risks incident to his employment because these were acts his employer might reasonably expect him to perform in fulfilling his assigned job duties. McAllister was responsible for arranging the walk-in cooler and had a duty to find misplaced food. The court overruled certain cases to the extent that they held that injuries attributable to common bodily movements or routine everyday activities, such as bending, twisting, reaching, or standing up from a kneeling position, are not compensable unless a claimant can prove that he was exposed to a risk of injury from these common bodily movements or routine everyday activities to a greater extent than the general public. View "McAllister v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission" on Justia Law

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In 2014, a $30,880 judgment covering backpay and pre-judgment interest was entered against Oakridge Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC, for its age and disability discrimination against a former employee, in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101. Oakridge Rehab had already gone out of business and transferred the assets and operation of its nursing home facility to Oakridge Healthcare Center, LLC in 2012. Unable to enforce the judgment against Oakridge Rehab, the state instituted proceedings to enforce the judgment against Oakridge Healthcare.The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oakridge Healthcare, declining to adopt the federal successor liability doctrine in cases arising under the Human Rights Act. The court noted four limited exceptions to the general rule of nonliability for corporate successors and declined to apply the fraudulent purpose exception, which exists “where the transaction is for the fraudulent purpose of escaping liability for the seller’s obligations.” The court stated that it is within the legislature’s power to abrogate the common-law rule of successor nonliability or otherwise alter its standards through appropriately targeted legislation for employment discrimination cases. View "Department of Human Rights v. Oakridge Healthcare Center, LLC" on Justia Law