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As a matter of first impression, the Eleventh Circuit held that it was sufficient for an opt-in plaintiff to file a written consent pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 216(b), to confer party-plaintiff status. In this case, appellants were parties to the litigation upon filing consents and, absent a dismissal from the case, remained parties in the litigation. The court affirmed the district court's denial of conditional certification and vacated the district court's clarification order, remanding with instructions for the district court to either dismiss appellants from the case without prejudice to refile, or to go forward with appellants' individual cases since discovery has been completed. The court also held that appellants were entitled to statutory tolling of their claims beginning on the dates they filed their written consents. View "Houston v. Country Club, Inc." on Justia Law

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College of DuPage hired Breuder as its president. After extensions, his contract ran through 2019. In 2015 newly-elected members of the Board of Trustees, having campaigned on a pledge to remove Breuder, discharged him without notice or a hearing. Board resolutions stated that Breuder had committed misconduct. The Board did not offer him a hearing and refused to comply with clauses in his contract covering severance pay and retirement benefits. Breuder filed suit, citing Illinois contract and defamation law and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Board as an entity moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that Breuder never had a valid contract because, under Illinois law, a governmental body whose members serve limited terms may not enter into contracts that extend beyond those terms. Individual Board members moved to dismiss the 1983 claim on qualified immunity grounds. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of both motions. The court noted precedent allowing Illinois Community Colleges to grant their presidents tenure beyond the date of the next board election. Rejecting claims of qualified immunity, the court noted that a hearing is required whenever the officeholder has a “legitimate claim of entitlement.” In discharging Breuder, the Board stated that he had committed misconduct. Even a person who has no property interest in a public job has a constitutional entitlement to a hearing before being defamed during a discharge, or at least a name-clearing hearing after the discharge. View "Breuder v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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McCall resigned from Shaw and later became the CEO of Allied, Shaw’s direct competitor. Shaw sued, citing noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements in McCall’s employment contract. Those agreements call for arbitration and state that the employer may seek injunctive relief without waiving the right to arbitrate. The state court issued a Joint Protective Order. Aptim acquired the rights to McCall’s employment agreement but withdrew a subsequent motion for substitution in the suit. Aptim filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Shaw filed an amended petition, deleting its request for damages, and a motion to dismiss the amended petition with prejudice. McCall filed an opposition, an answer, a counterclaim, a petition for declaratory judgment, a motion to consolidate, and a motion for constructive contempt against Aptim for demanding arbitration in violation of the protective order, though Aptim was not then a party to the case. Aptim, without Shaw, sued in federal court to compel arbitration and to stay the state-court proceeding. Before the federal court ruled, the state court issued an order joining Aptim in the state-court action, retroactively effective, finding that Aptim and Shaw had waived their arbitration rights. The federal district court then ordered arbitration and stayed the state-court action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that the factors weighed against abstention because the case does not involve jurisdiction over a thing and federal law provides the rules of decision on the merits and strongly favors arbitration. View "Aptim Corp. v. McCall" on Justia Law

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The Castillos were employed and paid by GCA, a temporary staffing company, to perform work on-site at Glenair. Glenair was authorized to and did record, review, and report the Castillos’ time records to GCA so that the Castillos could be paid. In a wage and hours putative class action, the Castillos characterized GCA and Glenair as joint employers. While their case was pending, a separate class action brought against, among others, GCA resulted in a final, court-approved settlement agreement, “Gomez,” which contains a broad release barring settlement class members from asserting wage and hour claims such as those alleged by the Castillos against GCA and its agents. The Castillos are members of the Gomez settlement class and did not opt out of that settlement. The Castillos claims against Glenair involve the same wage and hour claims, for the same work done, covering the same time period as the claims asserted in Gomez. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment rejecting the Castillo suit. Because Glenair is in privity with GCA (a defendant in Gomez) and is an agent of GCA, the Gomez settlement bars the Castillos’ claims against Glenair as a matter of law. View "Castillo v. Glenair, Inc." on Justia Law

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n 2008, Riske, a Los Angeles police officer from 1990 until his 2014 retirement, reported two fellow officers for filing false reports and testified against them. Afterward, Riske’s colleagues referred to him as a “snitch” and refused to work with him, even ignoring Riske’s requests for assistance in the field. From 2011-2013 Riske applied for 14 highly desirable detective positions. Notwithstanding his superior qualifications, each application was denied, in favor of less experienced or less qualified persons. Riske sued for unlawful retaliation, Labor Code 1102.5, and sought (Evidence Code 1043 and 10451) to obtain summary personnel records relied on by the city in making assignment and promotion decisions. Following a remand, the superior court conducted ordered the requested personnel records to be produced but, pursuant to section 1045(b)(1), which excludes from disclosure “[i]nformation consisting of complaints concerning conduct occurring more than five years before the event or transaction that is the subject of the litigation,” the court ordered redaction of all items concerning conduct that had occurred more than five years before Riske filed his 2014 complaint. The court of appeal again ruled in favor of Riske, holding that section 1045(b) has no application to the personnel reports sought in this case, which are not citizen complaints. View "Riske v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Board of Directors (the Board) of Bear Valley Community Hospital (Bear Valley) refused to promote Dr. Robert O. Powell from provisional to active staff membership and reappointment to Bear Valley's medical staff. Dr. Powell appealed the superior court judgment denying his petition for writ of mandate to void the Board's decision and for reinstatement of his medical staff privileges. Dr. Powell practiced medicine in both Texas and California as a general surgeon. In 2000, the medical executive committee of Brownwood Regional Medical Center (Brownwood), in Texas, found that Dr. Powell failed to advise a young boy's parents that he severed the boy's vas deferens during a hernia procedure or of the ensuing implications. Further, the committee found that Dr. Powell falsely represented to Brownwood's medical staff, on at least two occasions, that he fully disclosed the circumstances to the parents, behavior which the committee considered to be dishonest, obstructive, and which prevented appropriate follow-up care. Based on the committee's findings, Brownwood terminated Dr. Powell's staff membership and clinical privileges. In subsequent years, Dr. Powell obtained staff privileges at other medical facilities. In October 2011, Dr. Powell applied for appointment to the medical staff at Bear Valley. On his initial application form, Dr. Powell was given an opportunity to disclose whether his clinical privileges had ever been revoked by any medical facility. In administrative hearings generated by the Bear Valley Board’s decision, there was a revelation that Dr. Powell had not been completely forthcoming about the Brownwood termination, and alleged the doctor mislead the judicial review committee (“JRC”) about the circumstances leading to that termination. Under Bear Valley's bylaws, Dr. Powell had the right to an administrative appeal of the JRC's decision; he chose, however, to bypass an administrative appeal and directly petition the superior court for a writ of mandamus. In superior court, Dr. Powell filed a petition for writ of mandate under Code of Civil Procedure sections 1094.5 and 1094.6, seeking to void the JRC's/Board's decision and to have his medical privileges reinstated. The trial court denied the petition, and this appeal followed. On appeal of the superior court’s denial, Dr. Powell argued he was entitled to a hearing before the lapse of his provisional staff privileges: that the Board surreptitiously terminated his staff privileges, presumably for a medical disciplinary cause, by allowing his privileges to lapse and failing to act. The Court of Appeal determined the Bear Valley Board had little to no insight into the true circumstances of Dr. Powell’s termination at Brownwood or the extent of his misrepresentations, thus the Board properly exercised independent judgment based on the information presented. In summary, the Court of Appeal concluded Bear Valley provided Dr. Powell a fair procedure in denying his request for active staff privileges and reappointment to the medical staff. View "Powell v. Bear Valley Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Cathedral Buffet is an Ohio for-profit corporation but does not generate a profit. The restaurant’s sole shareholder is Grace Cathedral, a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization, which subsidizes the restaurant. The Department of Labor (DOL) began investigating Buffet in 2014, reviewing the restaurant’s employment practices back two years. The restaurant separated its workers into “employees” and “volunteers.” Volunteers performed many of the same tasks as employees. Employees received an hourly wage; volunteers did not. Reverend Angley recruited volunteers from the church pulpit on Sundays. He suggested that members who repeatedly refused to volunteer at the restaurant were at risk of “blaspheming against the Holy Ghost,” an unforgivable sin in the church’s doctrine. Managers were instructed to tell prospective volunteers that Angley would find out if they refused to work. The DOL filed suit; the district court held that Buffet’s religious affiliation did not exempt it from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 206(a), coverage because the restaurant was a for-profit corporation engaged in commercial activity and that the volunteers were employees under the FLSA. The Sixth Circuit reversed. To be considered an employee within the meaning of the FLSA, a worker must first expect to receive compensation; the Buffet volunteers had no such expectation. View "Acosta v. Buffet" on Justia Law

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The Union notified TCI, a Martha’s Vineyard bus company, that a majority of its drivers had signed Union authorization cards. The parties agreed to an election. TCI was required to provide a list of eligible voters and their addresses. TCI identified 39 drivers and delivered 37 residential addresses, one P.O. Box address, and combination of a residential address and a P.O. Box. The Union mailed voting information but only seven drivers attended a meeting. In the first election, the drivers voted 21 to 18 against unionization. Subsequently, 22 envelopes the Union had mailed were returned as undeliverable. A hearing officer determined that the list was deficient. The NLRB ordered a new election, in which the drivers voted in favor of representation, 17 to 14. TCI asserted that, before the election, two drivers had threatened another driver that they would “kill him” if he did not vote for the Union. A hearing officer concluded that the statements “were made in jest.” The NLRB certified the Union. The NLRB found that TCI had engaged in unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158 (a)(1)(5), when it refused to bargain with the Union. The Eleventh Circuit granted the NLRB’s application for enforcement of its order. The record supported the decision to order a new election and that the drivers were not acting as Union agents engaging in intimidation. View "Transit Connection, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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In 2008 Oncor began installing smart meters that can report customers’ electricity usage remotely, eliminating the need for personal inspection and the associated labor costs. In 2012 a Texas Senate committee investigated whether smart meters have harmful effects on public health.” Reed, an Oncor “trouble man” who completed ad hoc repair jobs and responded to power outages, who was also the union's business manager and financial secretary, volunteered to testify. Reed signed the witness list as representing the union. During his brief testimony, Reed said he represented the local union and spoke of the meters burning, testified to receiving repair orders or damaged boxes after the meters burned, and spoke of experiences with disgruntled customers. Oncor investigated, concluded that Reed’s testimony was false, and terminated his employment. An ALJ found a violation of the National Labor Relations Act by interfering with Reed’s protected union activities. The NLRB affirmed. The D.C. Circuit remanded, directing the NLRB to clarify its decision under a two-prong test for assessing whether employees’ third-party appeals constitute protected concerted activity or amount to such detrimental disloyalty as to permit termination for cause. Even disparaging statements can enjoy protection where the communication indicates it is related to an ongoing dispute between the employees and the employers and the communication is not so disloyal, reckless or maliciously untrue as to lose protection. View "Oncor Electric Delivery Compan v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Texas Whistleblower Act (WBA) does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools operated by a tax-exempt entity. Petitioner operated an open-enrollment charter school that provided tuition-free public education to students on multiple campuses. Respondent, a teacher for the school, sued the school for violating the WBA by retaliating against her. The trial court denied the school’s plea to the jurisdiction asserting immunity from suit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the WBA contains no specific statement that it applies to open-enrollment charter schools, see section 12.1058(c) of the Texas Charter Schools Act, it does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools. View "Neighborhood Centers Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law