Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The State appealed a Labor Relations Board decision that grievant Jacob Carnelli, a former correctional officer who was eligible for mandatory reemployment pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA), met the minimum qualifications for a position at the Department of Motor Vehicles requiring at least two years of “office clerical experience.” The Vermont Supreme Court concluded that the Board overstepped its authority by failing to apply the minimum qualifications as established by the DMV, and therefore reversed. View "In re Grievance of Jacob Carnelli" on Justia Law

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Justin Herrington, a law-enforcement officer with the Columbia Police Department, was convicted of violating Mississippi Code Section 97-3-104, which prohibited sexual activity between a law-enforcement employee and an offender on correctional supervision. The trial court ordered Herrington to register as a sex offender under Mississippi Code Sections 45-33-21 through 45-33-51. The trial court then amended its order and removed Herrington’s registration requirement. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MDPS) appealed and argued that the trial court erred by removing Herrington’s requirement to register as a sex offender. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and reversed the trial court’s order dispensing with Herrington’s registration requirement. View "Mississippi Department of Public Safety v. Herrington" on Justia Law

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WPS employed Stelter as an assistant in 2002 and promoted her to sales representative in 2007. In 2010, Harings, an agency manager, expressed concern in Stelter’s performance review regarding personal appointments made during work hours. In 2013, Harings again noted appointments during work hours and Stelter’s need for better familiarity with large group insurance products. In February 2014, Stelter injured her back at work. WPS approved her request for time off. On April 17, Stelter’s doctor cleared her to return with no restrictions. In June, Harings conducted Stelter’s performance review, giving an overall rating of improvement required. To get Stelter better acquainted with selling large group insurance, Harings had Stelter visit another WPS office, about a two-hour drive from the location where Stelter worked. In September, Harings met with Stelter weekly. Harings’s notes expressed her frustration that Stelter failed to request additional training and continued leaving work for appointments without giving adequate notice. Harings recommended termination. In December, WPS terminated Stelter. Stelter sued, claiming discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She alleged she was disabled with back pain that was aggravated by a work injury, The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of WPS. Stelter was terminated for a pattern of job absenteeism and deficiency. View "Stelter v. Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against current and former members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, alleging that adverse employment actions were taken against him in retaliation for his protected First Amendment speech. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, holding that plaintiff's non-testimonial speech was not entitled to First Amendment protection. In this case, although it was undisputed that plaintiff spoke as a private citizen and his speech was of public concern, the highway patrol has shown sufficient evidence of disruption to the efficiency of its operations. Under the Pickering balancing test, the court held that the factors weighed in favor of the highway patrol's interest in efficiency and indicated that plaintiff's speech activity was more likely than not impeding his ability to perform his job duties as a police officer. Therefore, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity regarding plaintiff's speech to the family of the victim of a drowning accident, on social media, and to the news reporter. The court also held that the remaining testimonial speech was not a substantial or motivating factor in the adverse employment actions against plaintiff. Finally, plaintiff's civil conspiracy and failure to supervise claims failed as a matter of law. View "Henry v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying BHC Pinnacle Point Hospital, LLC's motion to compel arbitration of a class action complaint filed by Employees, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, holding that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their voluntary arbitration agreements with Pinnacle Pointe. In their complaint, Employees alleged that Pinnacle Point violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 et seq. Pinnacle Point filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration, asserting that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their respective alternative resolution for conflicts agreements they executed with Pinnacle Pointe. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Pinnacle Pointe's motion to compel arbitration. View "BHC Pinnacle Pointe Hospital, LLC v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Under Colorado law, employers must pay all employees time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours, with certain exemptions. Employers need not pay overtime wages to “companions, casual babysitters, and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences.” The question this case presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review was whether “companions” working for third-party employers (rather than for households or family members) fell within the companionship exemption. The Court determined they do. Accordingly, it reversed the district court’s judgment concluding otherwise. View "Jordan v. Maxim Healthcare Services" on Justia Law

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Non-California residents and former crew members of a vessel filed suit alleging violations of California state wage and hour laws against their employers and the owners of the vessel (petitioners). The trial court denied petitioners' motion for summary judgment on the theories that Louisiana rather than California law governed the employment relationships at issue, and that either the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the dormant commerce clause preempted California law with respect to these employees. The Court of Appeal granted petitioners' writ of mandate, holding that the trial court erred because Louisiana law, rather than California law, was applicable in this case. The court held that Louisiana's interest in the application of its laws was stronger than California's interest. Among other things, the employment relationships were formed in Louisiana, between Louisiana-based employers and non-resident employees who traveled to that state to apply for, and accept employment. Furthermore, they received training and orientation in Louisiana and the administrative aspects of their employment were performed in that state. View "Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC v. Superior Court of Ventura County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the labor and industrial relations commission denying Claimants' claim for enhanced mesothelioma benefits under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.200.4(3)(a), holding that because the deceased employee's employer (Employer) did not "elect to accept mesothelioma liability," Claimants were not entitled to the enhanced benefit. The decedent died from mesothelioma cause by toxic exposure to asbestos during his employment with Employer. Prior to his death, Claimants filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits and specifically sought enhanced benefits under subdivision 287.200.4(3)(a). An administrative law judge denied the claim. The commission affirmed the denial of the enhanced benefit, concluding that an employer that ceased operations sixteen years before section 287.200.4(3)(a) took effect could not have elected to accept enhanced liability under that section. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimants were not entitled to the enhanced benefit because Employer did not affirmatively elect to accept liability for the enhanced benefit as required under statute. View "Hegger v. Valley Farm Dairy Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. This case arose when plaintiff, a former practicing attorney, filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seeking to recover unpaid overtime wages. The district court held that genuine issues of material fact remained regarding plaintiff's independent contractor status. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff's former employer on a different basis. The court held that the FLSA did not apply to plaintiff, because the undisputed facts weigh in favor of plaintiff being an independent contractor. However, because the district court did not state its reasons for declining to award costs to the prevailing party, the court vacated the award of costs and remanded the issue to the district court. View "Faludi v. U.S. Shale Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Appellant's federal law claims under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, and on the state-law claims for discrimination, retaliation based on a complaint of age discrimination, and failure to investigate and vacated the summary judgment on the state law claims for retaliation based on a report of gender discrimination, breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and defamation, holding that the court erred in granting summary judgment as to these claims. This lawsuit arose from events that led to Appellant's retirement from his position as Fire Chief for the Fire Department of the Town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town on all of Appellant's federal and state law claims. The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) summary judgment was properly granted as to some of Appellant's claims; but (2) as to the remaining state law claims, there was no analogue to the common law claims in the federal law claims that were addressed, and rather than attempt to resolve the state law issues that were in dispute as to these claims, their dismissal was directed without prejudice. View "Robinson v. Town of Marshfield" on Justia Law