Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff, a former special agent with the Virginia State Police, filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against the Commonwealth, seeking relief that includes compensatory damages, reinstatement, and back pay. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the ADA claim, because the Commonwealth has not waived its sovereign immunity from that claim. However, the court reversed the district court's decision that claim preclusion barred the Title VII claims, because the initial forum did not have the power to award the full measure of relief sought in this litigation. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Passaro v. Commonwealth of Virginia" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's race discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. In this case, plaintiff was terminated from her position as deputy clerk with the City of Houston, Mississippi as part of a group of layoffs designed to offset the City's budget shortfall. The court held that plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of material fact that her race was a motivating factor in her termination or that there was a causal connection between her EEOC complaint and that termination. View "Harville v. City of Houston" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by a group of exotic dancers against their employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Arizona state law. The panel held that the district court erred in concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs failed to prove at the outset of the case that they were employees rather than independent contractors; plaintiffs' employment status is a merits-based determination, not an antecedent jurisdictional issue; and plaintiffs' federal law allegations were not so patently without merit as to justify dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Tijerino v. Stetson Desert Project, LLC" on Justia Law

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Current and former minor league baseball players brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the wage-and-hour laws of California, Arizona, and Florida against MLB defendants, alleging that defendants did not pay the players at all during spring training, extended spring training, or the instructional leagues. On appeal, the players challenged the district court's denial of class certification for the Arizona, Florida, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) classes, and defendants petitioned to appeal the certification of the California class. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err in holding, under Sullivan v. Oracle Corp., that California law should apply to the 23(b)(3) California class. However, the district court erred in determining that choice-of-law considerations defeated predominance and adequacy for the proposed Arizona and Florida Rule 23(b)(3) classes. In this case, the district court fundamentally misunderstood the proper application of California's choice-of-law principles—which, when correctly applied, indicate that Arizona law should govern the Arizona class, and Florida law the Florida class. The panel also held that the district court erred in refusing to certify a Rule 23(b)(2) class for unpaid work at defendants' training facilities in Arizona and Florida on the sole basis that choice-of-law issues undermined "cohesiveness" and therefore made injunctive and declaratory relief inappropriate. Furthermore, the district court erred in imposing a "cohesiveness" requirement for the proposed Rule 23(b)(2) class. The panel held that the predominance requirement was met as to the Arizona and Florida classes, covering alleged minimum wage violations based on the lack of any pay for time spent participating in spring training, extended spring training, and instructional leagues. In regard to the California class -- covering overtime and minimum wage claims relating to work performed during the championship season -- the panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that defendant's uniform pay policy, the team schedules, and representative evidence established predominance. The panel rejected defendants' contention that the district court was required to rigorously analyze the Main Survey. The panel affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective action. Applying Campbell v. City of L.A., which postdated the district court's ruling, the panel held that the district court's use of the ad hoc approach was harmless error. The panel also affirmed the district court's certification of the FLSA collective as to plaintiffs' overtime claims. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball" on Justia Law

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Boxill worked at Franklin County Municipal Court. Boxill alleges that the defendants, judges and an administrator, formulated a concealed policy that female employees asserting complaints about abusive and discriminatory treatment by judges would be discouraged and intimidated. She claimed that in 2011 O’Grady began making sexist and racist comments and that Brandt was “hostile and intimidating." Boxill reported this to administrators and judges in 2011-2013; “[n]o administrator or Judge acted ... each discouraged [her] from action.” They began removing her responsibilities. A week after others reported O’Grady’s behavior Boxill was demoted. She claims that O’Grady then recruited other judges to monitor her and her staff. The Defendants began bypassing her and going directly to the Caucasian male subordinate. She resigned and later filed suit, alleging that each Defendant retaliated against her in violation of the First Amendment, 42 U.S.C. 1983, 1981 and contributed to a hostile work environment. The district court dismissed her claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. Boxill offered no plausible, non-conclusory facts to show that O’Grady was aware of her complaints and cannot demonstrate that O’Grady’s adverse actions were motivated by her protected speech. Reversing as to the hostile work environment claim, the court stated Boxill’s complaint plausibly alleged that O’Grady made sexist and racist comments to her and others for years, she reported that behavior, and the harassment was sufficiently severe and/or pervasive that others found it necessary to memorialize their concerns in writing. View "Boxill v. O'Grady" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the City, the police department, and others, alleging claims of disability and/or racial or gender discrimination. In regard to the disability discrimination claim, the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet her prima facie burden of demonstrating that she was actually disabled, but was sufficient on whether she was regarded as disabled; the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was a qualified individual; plaintiff met her prima facie burden of demonstrating that the city discriminated against her because of her perceived disability; and plaintiff produced sufficient evidence that she was not a direct threat. In regard to the race and gender discrimination claims, the court held that the evidence of arbitrary personnel decisions surrounding plaintiff's termination, the pretextual justifications offered for the same, the differing treatment of her white male colleagues, and other evidence amounted to sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a triable issue of material fact on whether the police department's actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and/or gender. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's municipal liability claim under 42 U.S.C. 1981 for the police chief's discriminatory actions as the final decisionmaker. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lewis v. City of Union City" on Justia Law

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Yochim worked in HUD's legal department for 26 years. Throughout her tenure, she took advantage of HUD’s flexible policy permitting employees to work from home several days per week. After undergoing hand surgery, Yochim requested time off and permission to work from home. HUD agreed and allowed her time to recover and to telework several days a week for many months as she received physical therapy. HUD later restructured its law department, with the effect of requiring employees to spend more time in the office. The restructuring, combined with Yochim’s performance deficiencies, led HUD to revoke her telework privileges and offer alternative accommodations. In the meantime, Yochim lodged two complaints with the EEOC, claiming that HUD discriminated and retaliated against her by failing to promote her and, separately, to accommodate her need for ongoing rehabilitation. Yochim retired from HUD once she became eligible to do so, then filed suit, citing the Rehabilitation Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of HUD. Although Yochim had established that she was a qualified person with a disability, no reasonable jury could find that the Department had failed to offer reasonable accommodations. Yochim did not establish that HUD retaliated against her or subjected her to a hostile work environment. View "Yochim v. Carson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court set aside an administrative law judge's (ALJ) denial of Gilbert Aguirre's workers' compensation claim for benefits, holding that a claimant does not waive appellate review of the legally sufficiency of findings before the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). In Post v. Industrial Commission of Arizona, 160 Ariz. 4, 7-9 (1989), the Supreme Court held that when an ALJ fails to make findings on all material issues necessary to resolve the case the award is legally deficient and must be set aside. In this case, after an ALJ denied Aguirre's claim for benefits he filed a request for administrative review. In his request, Aguirre did not specifically challenge the ALJ's failure to make material findings as required by Post. The ALJ summarily affirmed the award. The court of appeals set aside the award based on the absence of legally-sufficient findings. At issue on appeal was whether, because Aguirre did not challenge the lack of material findings required by Post in his request for review, Appellant waived appellate review on that issue. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the ALJ's award was legally deficient and must be set aside regardless of whether Aguirre raised the issue. View "Aguirre v. Industrial Commission of Arizona" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal affirming in part and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings on certain stock and wage conversion claims, holding that Plaintiff's stock conversion claims should be permitted to proceed but that Plaintiff did not plead a cognizable claim for conversion of wages. Plaintiff worked alongside Defendant to launch three start-up ventures in return for a promise of later payment of wages. Later, Plaintiff was fired and never paid. Plaintiff successfully sued the companies invoking both contract-based and statutory remedies for the nonpayment of wages. In this lawsuit, Plaintiff sought to hold Defendant personally responsible for the unpaid wages on a theory of common law conversion. The trial court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court of appeal reversed in part but concluded that extending the tort of conversion to the wage context was not warranted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a conversion claim was not an appropriate remedy for the wrong alleged in this case. View "Voris v. Lampert" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Daniel Clifford began working for Quest Software Inc. (Quest). In 2012, Dell Inc. acquired Quest to form its software division, Dell Software Inc., which hired Clifford as an employee. In 2015, Clifford participated in Dell’s online “Code of Conduct” training course. According to Quest, when Clifford completed the training, he acknowledged that he read and agreed to the terms of Dell’s Arbitration Agreement and Dispute Resolution Program. In 2017, Clifford filed a complaint against Quest for: (1) failure to pay overtime; (2) failure to provide meal periods; (3) failure to provide rest periods; (4) failure to provide accurate wage statements; (5) failure to reimburse for business expenses; and (6) unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200. He based his complaint on his allegation Quest misclassified him as an exempt employee. Quest moved to compel arbitration of Clifford’s claims. The trial court found Quest had established the existence of a binding and enforceable arbitration agreement, and it compelled arbitration of Clifford’s first through fifth causes of action. However, it denied the motion on the sixth cause of action, his UCL claim, citing without discussion the California Supreme Court’s decision in Cruz v. PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc., 30 Cal.4th 303 (2003). The court stayed the prosecution of that cause of action pending the completion of the arbitration. Quest timely appealed. The question posed in this appeal was whether an employee’s claim against his employer for unfair competition under section 172001 was arbitrable. The Court of Appeal reversed that portion of the trial court’s order. "Assuming Cruz remains good law . . . Cruz at most stands for the proposition that UCL claims for 'public' injunctive relief are not arbitrable. Cruz does not bar arbitration of a UCL claim for private injunctive relief or restitution, which is precisely what the UCL claim here seeks. The employee’s UCL claim therefore is subject to arbitration, along with his other causes of action." View "Clifford v. Quest Software Inc." on Justia Law