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Trucking, owned by Bourdow, his wife, and their sons, sold and transported dirt, stone, and sand throughout lower Michigan and engaged in construction site preparation and excavation. Trucking employed other members of the Bourdow family. Trucking executed collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), under which it made fringe benefit payments to the Union’s pension fund (Fund). Experiencing financial difficulties, Trucking terminated its CBA. In 2012, the Fund informed Trucking that it had incurred withdrawal liability ($1,163,279) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C 1381(a). Trucking missed its first withdrawal liability payment. The Fund filed suit, which was stayed when Trucking filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Fund filed a proof of claim. Trucking did not object; the claim was allowed, 11 U.S.C. 502(a). The Fund received $52,034. Contracting was incorporated the day after Trucking missed its first withdrawal payment; it bid on its first project two days before Trucking's bankruptcy filing. Contracting engages in construction site preparation and excavation in lower Michigan. Contracting is owned by the Bourdow sons; it employs other family members and retains the services of other professionals formerly retained by Trucking. The Fund sought to recover the outstanding withdrawal liability, alleging that Contracting was created to avoid withdrawal liability, and is responsible for that liability under 29 U.S.C 1392(c), and that Contracting is the alter ego of Trucking. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Fund, applying the National Labor Relations Act’s alter-ego test and citing the factors of business purpose, operations, customers, supervision, ownership, and intent to evade labor obligations. View "Trustees of Operating Engineers Local 324 v. Bourdow Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging that defendant was grossly negligent and that this negligence caused plaintiff substantial harm. Both parties were electrical linesman. Plaintiff was injured at a worksite when a wire defendant's team disconnected from a downed pole snapped free and struck plaintiff in the face. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant and held that the district court did not err in concluding that Iowa's Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy for plaintiff's injury because he could not establish that defendant was grossly negligent. The court held that plaintiff failed to present evidence creating a factual dispute with regard to defendant's awareness that injury was probable. In this case, defendant's crew members agreed with him that the jerry-rigged setup would be the best way to secure the wire. While plaintiff's injuries suggested that the setup may have been negligent, mere negligence did not satisfy Iowa's stringent requirements for allowing co-employee liability. View "Van Dorn v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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Former employees of Honeywell, who retired before age 65 during the terms of Honeywell's 2007 and 2010 collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), filed a class action alleging that Honeywell's announced plan to terminate early retiree healthcare benefits at the end of 2017 breached the CBAs and violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), because those healthcare benefits vested when each class member retired. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the Sixth Circuit and held that the Supreme Court's decision in CNH Indus. N.V. v. Reese, 138 S. Ct. 761 (2018), was controlling in this case. Under Reese, the court held that plaintiffs' retiree healthcare benefits were not vested as a matter of law. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Pacheco v. Honeywell International Inc." on Justia Law

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The Retired Oakland Police Officers Association obtained a writ of mandate against the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System directing that master police officer-terrorism pay (MPO pay) be included in the calculation of pension benefits. Under the retirement system, a retiree’s pension is a fixed percentage of the compensation currently “attached to the average rank” held by the retiree at the time of retirement. The court of appeal reversed. The trial court erred in concluding that MPO pay is “compensation attached to . . . rank” as required by the Oakland City Charter for inclusion in pension benefits. In 2009-2015, MPO pay was paid to all officers who had completed 20 years of service in the Department; maintained fully effective overall performance appraisals during the assignment; attended and completed an approved anti-terrorism/law enforcement response course; and been assigned to the patrol division. The requirement that an officer be assigned to the patrol division to receive MPO pay compels the conclusion that MPO pay is not attached to the officer’s rank. The agreement that added MPO pay did not restructure the relevant ranks or create an additional step within an existing rank. View "Retired Oakland Police Officers Association v. Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the university and others, alleging in part that defendants violated his procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when they placed him on involuntary leave and later terminated his employment. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in denying summary judgment to the then-President of the University, John Schwaller, on the ground of qualified immunity. The court held that failure to comply with a state procedural requirement—such as the New York Civil Service Law—does not necessarily defeat a claim for qualified immunity under federal law. Because the district court based its holding almost exclusively on Schwaller's failure to comply with the New York State Civil Service Law, it legally erred by not accessing whether his conduct violated the procedural guarantees of the federal Due Process Clause. The court held that plaintiff's placement on involuntary leave was not a deprivation of a property interest sufficient to trigger due process requirements. Therefore, Schwaller's conduct did not violate clearly established federal law and he was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss the due process claim against Schwaller. View "Tooly v. Schwaller" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina certified a question of state law to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Plaintiff was a former employee of BMW at its manufacturing facility in Spartanburg. During his employment, Plaintiff was subject to random drug tests. BMW contracted with Defendant to test hair samples of BMW employees for the presence of drugs. Plaintiff was selected for a random drug test, which was administered on-site by a contract nurse from a local hospital. According to Defendant's analysis, his hair sample tested positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine (the primary metabolite of cocaine). Though Plaintiff asserted that he had not used any illegal substances, BMW suspended Plaintiff pending an investigation. On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a hair sample to an independent drug testing laboratory whose report determined that Plaintiff's hair tested negative for any illegal substances. BMW refused to accept the independent laboratory's results but permitted Plaintiff to submit a second hair sample for analysis by Defendant. The second hair sample also tested positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine. BMW subsequently terminated Plaintiff due to the positive drug test results. Plaintiff maintained he was not and had never been a drug user. Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant, alleging negligence and negligent supervision. In response, Defendant filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss on the basis that Defendant did not owe a duty to Plaintiff. The certified question posed to the South Carolina Supreme Court asked whether a drug testing laboratory contracted with an employer to conduct and evaluate drug tests, owed a duty of care to employees subject to such testing that gives rise to a cause of action for negligence for failure to properly and accurately perform the test and report the results. The Supreme Court responded in the affirmative: “without the recognition of a duty, a terminated employee is often left without a means for redress, while the drug testing laboratory is effectively immunized from liability. … Therefore, absent a duty of care, drug testing laboratories are able to avoid liability for their negligence.” View "Shaw v. Psychemedics Corporation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ complaint claiming entitlement to unpaid wages based on his commute time in a company van, holding that commute time in a company-provided vehicle is not compensable under Wisconsin law. Field service technicians employed by Defendant traveled to customers’ locations in Defendant’s vans and had the choice of commuting between work and home in either their personal vehicles or the company’s vans. Defendant did not provide compensation time for technicians’ travel time between home and work, leading Plaintiffs to file this lawsuit. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed, holding that genuine issues of material facts existed as to whether Wisconsin’s statutes and regulations require payment for commuting time in a company-provided vehicle. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that travel is not compensable where an employee drives a company-provided vehicle between home and a jobsite. View "Kieninger v. Crown Equipment Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment as a matter of law to Defendant-employer on Plaintiff’s age discrimination claims and Puerto Rico law claims and granting in part Defendant’s summary judgment motion, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. After Plaintiff was laid off as part of Defendant’s effort to cut costs, Plaintiff sued the hospital under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621-634 and Puerto Rico antidiscrimination and tort law. The district court granted summary judgment in part for Defendant, finding that Defendant had facially legitimate, non-discriminatory grounds to terminate Plaintiff’s position. A jury trial ensued, but at the close of evidence the district court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there were fatal and uncontradicted defects in Defendant’s prima facie theory of liability as established by the evidence at trial. View "Hoffman-Garcia v. Metrohealth, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the orders of the district court judge’s rulings dismissing Plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim and granting summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s unjust discharge and age discrimination claims and awarded Defendant its costs on this appeal, holding that the judge committed no reversible error. In this diversity case governed by Puerto Rico law, the district court judge dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against her former employer on Defendant’s motions to dismiss and for summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the judge properly dismissed Plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim because Plaintiff did not plausibly plead that her firing constituted sexual orientation discrimination; and (2) the judge properly granted summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s unjust discharge and age discrimination claims. View "Villeneuve v. Avon Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court awarding Matthew Vacca actual and punitive damages, including substantial future lost wages, on his claim that he was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging disability discrimination, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to apply judicial estoppel to Vacca’s claim of future lost wages. The circuit court found Vacca claimed in this case that he could have continued to work as an administrative law judge (ALJ) for twenty more years. In Vacca’s ongoing dissolution proceeding, however, he claimed he was entitled to maintenance because he was totally unable to work due to his disability. The circuit court concluded that it was barred from applying judicial estoppel because the dissolution judgment had been remanded for further proceedings based on evidentiary errors. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) once a party takes inconsistent positions, there are no fixed prerequisites to application of judicial estoppel; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to apply judicial estoppel to preclude Vacca from making the inconsistent claim that he was able to work as an ALJ for another twenty years with reasonable accommodations. View "Vacca v. Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law