Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
Babb v. Wilkie
Babb, a VA pharmacist, filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 633a(a). The district court granted the VA summary judgment, finding that Babb had established a prima facie case but that the VA had proffered legitimate reasons for the challenged actions, and that no jury could reasonably conclude that those reasons were pretextual. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed. Section 633a(a) demands that federal sector personnel actions be untainted by any consideration of age. The ADEA does not require proof that a federal employment decision would have turned out differently if age had not been taken into account. If age is a factor in an employment decision, the statute has been violated. It is not anomalous to hold the federal government to a stricter standard than private employers or state and local governments. But-for causation is important in determining the appropriate remedy. To obtain reinstatement, damages, or other relief related to the end result of an employment decision, a showing that a personnel action would have been different if age had not been taken into account is necessary, but if age discrimination played a lesser part in the decision, other remedies may be appropriate. View "Babb v. Wilkie" on Justia Law
EEOC v. Vantage Energy Services, Inc.
After the EEOC brought an enforcement action against Vantage on behalf of an employee, Vantage moved to dismiss based on the EEOC's failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In a one-sentence judgment, the district court agreed and dismissed. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the EEOC intake questionnaire was sufficient as a charge and, although verified outside of the filing period, was "timely" by virtue of the relation-back regulation. The court noted that the dilatory response of the employee's counsel to the EEOC's months-long requests to file his client's verified charge was inexcusable, and counsel should never ignore applicable Americans with Disabilities law and regulations. Furthermore, the Supreme Court's decision in Edelman v. Lynchburg College, 535 U.S. 106, 113, 118, 122 S. Ct. 1145, 1149, 1152 (2002), and Fed. Express Corp. v. Holowecki, 552 U.S. 389, 402, 128 S. Ct. 1147, 1158 (2008), were designed to accomplish fair and efficient resolution of discrimination complaints filed more often than not by pro se individuals. View "EEOC v. Vantage Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Fraser v. Patrick O’Connor & Assoc.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs, property tax consultant employees, holding that plaintiffs were not exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because the firm pointed to no job responsibility carried out by a property tax consultant that related in any way to the management or general business operations of the company or its customers. The court also held that the fluctuating-workweek method did not apply in this case, because the preponderance of the evidence supports the conclusion that there was no mutual agreement between plaintiffs and the firm that plaintiffs would be paid a fixed weekly salary regardless of the number of hours worked. View "Fraser v. Patrick O'Connor & Assoc." on Justia Law
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America v. Honeywell International, Inc.
Beginning in 1965, Honeywell and the labor union negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). Honeywell agreed to pay “the full [healthcare benefit] premium or subscription charge applicable to the coverages of [its] pensioner[s]” and their surviving spouses. Each CBA contained a general durational clause stating that the agreement would expire on a specified date, after which the parties would negotiate a new CBA. In 2003, the parties negotiated a CBA obligating Honeywell to pay “not . . . less than” a specified amount beginning in 2008. The retirees filed suit, arguing that the pre-2003 CBAs vested lifetime, full-premium benefits for all pre-2003 retirees and that the CBAs of 2003, 2007, and 2011 vested, at a minimum, lifetime, floor-level benefits for the remaining retirees. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the district court that none of the CBAs vested lifetime benefits. Without an unambiguous vesting clause, the general durational clause controls. Reversing in part, the court held that the “not . . . less than” language unambiguously limited Honeywell’s obligation to pay only the floor-level contributions during the life of the 2011 CBA. The court rejected a claim that Honeywell acquired a "windfall" at the retirees' expense. View "International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law
Cabarrus County Board of Education v. Department of State Treasurer
In this dispute concerning the manner in which the cost of pensions for certain retirees should be funded, the Supreme Court held that the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) rulemaking procedures bind how the Retirement System's Board of Trustees adopt "cap factors" under the anti-pension spiking provision at issue in this case. In order to calculate the retirement benefit cap applicable to each retiree, the Act to Enact Anti-Pension-Spiking Legislation by Establishing a Contribution-Based Benefit Cap directs the Retirement System's Board of Trustees to adopt a contribution-based benefit cap factor recommended by an actuary, which the Board had traditionally adopted by resolution. Here, the Retirement System determined that Dr. Barry Shepherd's pension benefits were subject the contribution-based benefit cap. The trial court concluded that the Board of Trustees' adoption of the cap factor was void because the action was subject to rulemaking under the APA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board of Trustees was required to adopt the statutorily mandated cap factor utilizing the rulemaking procedures required by the APA; and (2) the Retirement System erred by billing the Board of Education an additional amount relating to Dr. Shepherd's pension, in light of the Board of Trustees' failure to adopt the necessary cap factor in an appropriate manner. View "Cabarrus County Board of Education v. Department of State Treasurer" on Justia Law
Bharadwaj v. Mid Dakota Clinic
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, disability discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and breach of fiduciary duty. The court held that plaintiff's discrimination claim failed because Mid Dakota offered a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions: his inability to get along with others; plaintiff's Title VII retaliation claims failed because he failed to show he was retaliated against for reporting racial slurs and racially charged comments; plaintiff's False Claims Act retaliation claim failed because there was no evidence, direct or otherwise, that his decision to report the allegedly fraudulent billing practices of a colleague caused—much less solely caused—Mid Dakota to force him out; and plaintiff's claim under the North Dakota Business Corporation Act failed because he was an at-will employee. View "Bharadwaj v. Mid Dakota Clinic" on Justia Law
Liscomb v. Boyce
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that plaintiff failed to allege a claim that a state prosecutor retaliated against him for seeking unpaid overtime compensation. The court held that plaintiff waived his First Amendment retaliation claim by failing to brief the issue; because plaintiff is not an employee under section 215(a)(3) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the district court did not err in dismissing his claim; because plaintiff failed to point to any alteration or extinguishment of a right or legal status on appeal, he failed to state a due process claim; and because plaintiff failed to allege a conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. 1985(2), his sections 1985(3) and 1986 claims also failed. Finally, the court held that there was no error in dismissing plaintiff's state law claims and in denying him leave to file a third amended complaint. View "Liscomb v. Boyce" on Justia Law
Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service
In this case concerning the application of the statutory scheme permitting an employer that has provided workers compensation benefits to an injured employee to obtain both a subrogation interest in any recovery the employee receives from a third party and a credit for future benefits, the Supreme Court held that the Workers Compensation Board used the improper method for determining the subrogation lien and the future credit. In Employee's third party negligence action, the jury decided both the fault of Employer and the measure of Employee's damages from his workplace injury. The Board applied the jury's finding of fault to Employee's settlement with one of several defendants in his negligence action to compute the reduction in Employer's subrogation lien and future credit for workers compensation benefits it provided or will provide to Employee. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) consistent with Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-504(b), Employer's credit for future benefits should have been determined using each annual settlement payment to Employee from one of the third-party defendants when the payment was received; and (2) the Board erred in aggregating those payments and relying on the total amount when Employee would not receive the last installment for twenty years. View "Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service" on Justia Law
Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc.
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for overtime pay under the New York Labor Law's (NYLL) overtime-pay provision. The court held that, although the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were ineligible for overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular wage, the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs were ineligible for any overtime pay under the NYLL. The court explained that a plain reading of the NYLL's overtime-pay provision demonstrates that employees subject to certain exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Motor Carrier Exemption, must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Bowles v. OneMain Financial Group, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's age discrimination suit against OneMain. The court held that the district court correctly rejected plaintiff's meeting of the minds argument on the merits based on Mississippi law. In this case, the district court found that the electronic communications transmitting the Arbitration Agreement clearly identified an arbitration agreement as the subject of the communications, and that plaintiff was given the opportunity to reach the Agreement and certified that she had done so. Furthermore, the district court correctly held that plaintiff's procedural unconscionability challenge was a challenge to the the Agreement's enforceability and therefore must be decided by an arbitrator rather than the courts. View "Bowles v. OneMain Financial Group, LLC" on Justia Law