Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Department filed suit against M&N, alleging numerous causes of action stemming from defendants' operation of a business that purchased retail installment sales contracts from used car dealerships where defendants used a formula that considered the gender of the car purchaser in deciding how much to pay for the contracts. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Department on the first and second causes of action, which alleged violations of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, 51) and Civil Code section 51.5, and assessed over $6 million in statutory damages pursuant to Civil Code section 52, subdivision (a). The trial court dismissed the fifth, sixth, and seventh causes of action, which alleged violations of Government Code section 12940, subdivisions (i) and (k) of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in dismissing the fifth cause of action and otherwise affirmed the trial court's judgment. In the fifth cause of action, the Department alleged that M&N "knowingly compelled and coerced its employees to engage in practices that violated" FEHA and Civil Code sections 51 and 51.5, in violation of section 12940, subdivision (i). The court held that employees who are coerced by their employer to violate Civil Code sections 51 and 51.5 are "aggrieved" within the meaning of section 12965, subdivision (a) and have standing to sue their employer pursuant to section 12940, subdivision (i). Therefore, the employees of M&N who were coerced by M&N into violating Civil Code sections 51 and 51.5 could be individually liable for sex discrimination. The court explained that these employees would necessarily be "aggrieved" by their employer's unlawful employment practice as their personal interests would be affected by their employer's misconduct. Therefore, the Department was authorized to file a civil action on behalf of these employees and the trial court erred by dismissing the fifth cause of action. View "Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. M&N Financing Corp." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, CSX, for unlawful retaliation under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), alleging that he was terminated because he engaged in protected activity by "reporting, in good faith, a hazardous safety or security condition."The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of CSX, concluding that the district court erred in determining that plaintiff's belief that the subject of his report – pressure from supervisors to make false entries in work reports causing employees undue stress and distraction from their duties – concerned a "hazardous safety or security condition" was objectively unreasonable. Rather, the court concluded that the FRSA's protection of reports made "in good faith" requires only that the reporting employee subjectively believe that the matter being reported constitutes a hazardous safety or security condition, regardless of whether that belief is objectively reasonable. The district court also erred in determining that, in any event, only physical conditions subject to the railroad's control could constitute such a condition. The court explained that the statutory text suggests no reason to confine the meaning of "hazardous safety or security condition" to encompass only physical conditions. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Ziparo v. CSX Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint alleging discrimination based on age and sex, holding that Appellant's complaint was untimely filed.Following Respondent's termination of Appellant, Appellant sent a letter of inquiry to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed a charge of discrimination. After the limitation period for Appellant's potential claims against Respondent expired the Legislature amended Nev. Rev. Stat. 613.430, providing employees an additional ninety days to file a claim after receiving a letter giving them the right to sue. Appellant subsequently filed this complaint, alleging discrimination. The district court granted Respondent's motion to dismiss, finding that Appellant's claims expired under the former version of Nev. Rev. Stat. 613.430 and that the Legislature's amendments to that statute did not revive the claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly determined that the amendment did not revive Appellant's untimely claims; and (2) Appellant failed to establish the requirements for equitable tolling. View "Salloum v. Boyd Gaming Corp." on Justia Law

by
Citing a budget deficit, Chicago’s Board of Education laid off 1,077 teachers and 393 paraprofessional educators in 2011. The Chicago Teachers Union and a class of teachers (CTU) sued, alleging that the layoffs discriminated against African-American teachers and paraprofessionals in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. 2000e.The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Board. While CTU made a prima facie case of disparate impact with evidence that African-Americans comprised approximately 30% of Union members at the time of the layoffs but made up just over 40% of Union members receiving layoff notices, the Board’s decision to tie layoffs to declining enrollment in schools was legitimate, job-related, and consistent with business necessity. Beyond noting the existence of open positions for which laid-off employees were qualified, CTU did not meet its burden of establishing that its proposed alternative of transferring employees was “available, equally valid and less discriminatory.” The Illinois statute’s designation of hiring discretion to principals neither promotes discrimination nor bears any relationship to the Board’s decision to tie layoffs to declining enrollment and the transfer alternative proposed by CTU is not consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. CTU did not put forth any evidence of intentional discrimination by the Board. View "Chicago Teachers Union v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago" on Justia Law

by
Kerry began requiring workers to use fingerprints to clock in and out. Plaintiffs, former employees, say that Kerry did not obtain their consent before doing so in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit as preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185 because its resolution depends on the interpretation of collective-bargaining agreements between Kerry and the plaintiffs' union. Federal law prevents states from interfering in relations between unions and private employers. Whether a topic of bargaining is mandatory or permissive, the union is the workers’ agent. If labor and management want to bargain collectively about particular working conditions, they are free to do so. Workers cannot insist that management bypass the union and deal with them directly about these subjects. The use of biometric data is a topic for bargaining between unions and management. States cannot bypass the mechanisms of federal law and authorize direct negotiation or litigation between workers and management. View "Fernandez v. Kerry, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification in an action alleging minimum wage, overtime, and expense reimbursement claims against Grubhub. Plaintiff contends that he was misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee when he worked for Grubhub as a food delivery driver.The panel concluded that the district court properly denied certification to plaintiff's proposed class of delivery drivers in California where all members of plaintiff's putative class—except plaintiff and one other—signed agreements waiving their right to participate in a class action. The panel explained that the district court correctly held plaintiff did not satisfy the requirements in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) because he is neither typical of the class nor an adequate representative, and because the proceedings would be unlikely to generate common answers. The panel rejected Grubhub's claim that California Proposition 22 abated the application of the ABC test to plaintiff's pending class claim. In this case, there is no dispute that plaintiff’s minimum wage and overtime claims are rooted in wage orders. The panel concluded that, because the district court rendered its judgment before the California Supreme Court decided Dynamex Operations W., Inc. v. Superior Court, 416 P.3d 1, 33–40 (Cal. 2018), it had no occasion to apply the ABC test to plaintiff's claims. The panel remanded for the district court to apply the ABC test in the first instance to plaintiff's expense reimbursement claim. View "Lawson v. Grubhub, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's orders denying NBA Automotive's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial in an action brought by plaintiff alleging wrongful termination and various causes of action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). NBA Automotive argues that plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under FEHA because her administrative complaint incorrectly identified Hooman Enterprises, rather than NBA Automotive, as the corporation doing business as Hooman Chevrolet of Culver City.The court concluded that plaintiff's administrative complaint sufficiently identified her employer and she exhausted her administrative remedies within the statutory limitations period. In this case, plaintiff complied with the requirements of Government Code section 12960, former subdivision (b); she provided a detailed description of her employer, the names of the individuals who engaged in the allegedly discriminatory practices, and a narrative of multiple instances of wrongful conduct spanning 15 years; she also named the supervisors and managers employed by NBA Automotive who took the adverse employment actions against her; the administrative complaint also gave NBA Automotive sufficient notice that she was naming it in her administrative complaint and would name it in her subsequent civil action, both of which, as well as the right-to-sue letter, NBA Automotive does not dispute it received; and NBA Automotive does not contend that plaintiff's failure to state its correct legal name in her original administrative complaint prejudiced its defense in any way. View "Guzman v. NBA Automotive, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit granted the Board's petition for enforcement of its decision and order requiring the Companies to reinstate a former employee and to comply with their collective bargaining obligations with the Union. This case arose from a long-pending labor dispute between the Union and three closely related corporations doing business in Newark: Newark Electric, Newark 2.0, and Colacino.Although the court agreed with the Companies that the Board's original complaint was invalid, the court rejected their challenge to its ratification by the NLRB's General Counsel and concluded that the Board's order may be enforced. The court also concluded that the Board's determination that the Companies were a single employer and alter egos is supported by substantial evidence. The court found persuasive the Companies' further argument that Colacino's termination of its Letter of Assent with the Union also needed Newark Electric's obligations toward the Union. Finally, the court found that substantial credible evidence supports the Board's conclusion that Colacino Industries violated section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act when it terminated the employee. View "National Labor Relations Board v. Newark Electric Corp." on Justia Law

by
Cadillac of Naperville's service mechanics went on strike in 2017. The National Labor Relations Board found that the dealership responded to the strike unlawfully (29 U.S.C. 158(a)) by discharging one mechanic for his union activity, threatening to retaliate against several mechanics, and refusing to bargain with the mechanics’ union. The mechanic, Bisbikis, was one of six mechanics permanently replaced during the strike and had approached the dealership’s owner about certain worker complaints. The owner had “warned” Bisbikis that “things would not be the same” if the mechanics decided to strike. After the strike settled, the owner stated that Bisbikis was a ringleader of the strike and he no longer wanted to employ Bisbikis. Later, the owner fired Bisbikis, assertedly for insubordination. The owner subsequently sought to restrict union access to Naperville premises.At the NLRB’s request, the D.C. Circuit remanded the discharge issue for the Board to apply its intervening decision changing the framework under which it assesses alleged retaliation in mixed-motive cases. Under that decision, the NLRB bears the initial burden of proving that union activity was a “motivating factor” in an adverse action against an employee; if it meets that burden, the employer must prove that it “would have taken the same action in the absence of the unlawful motive.” The court rejected the dealership’s other challenges. View "Cadillac of Naperville, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that because Nevada's wrongful termination claims do not significantly conflict with any concrete federal interest expressed by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the LMRDA did not preempt those claims.This case concerned the termination of the employment of two plaintiffs with the Nevada Service Employees Union. Plaintiffs filed this complaint against Nevada Service Employees Union, Local 1107 and the Service Employees International Union, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and wrongful termination. The district court granted summary judgment for the Unions, concluding that the LMRDA preempted all of Plaintiffs' claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the LMRDA does not preempt state law wrongful termination claims; (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of one of the unions; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying a union's motion for attorney fees. View "Clark v. Service Employees International Union" on Justia Law