Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
Stone v. Alameda Health System
Under Health and Safety Code 101850, Alameda, a hospital authority was created as “a public agency for purposes of eligibility with respect to grants and other funding and loan guarantee programs.” The plaintiffs worked for Alameda and claim Alamed “automatically deducted ½ hour from each workday” to account for a meal period, although employees “were not allowed or discouraged from clocking out for meal periods.” The trial court dismissed their sis class action Labor Code claims, reasoning that Alameda was a “statutorily created public agency” beyond the reach of the Labor Code and Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Order invoked in the complaint. The court held that a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claim would not lie because Alameda is not a “person” within the meaning of section 18, there was no underlying statutory violation from which the PAGA claim could derive, and Alameda’s “public agency” status exempted it from punitive damages.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the fourth claim but otherwise reversed. Alameda lacks many of the hallmarks of sovereignty. Subjecting Alameda to liability would not infringe upon any sovereign governmental powers. Alameda is not a “municipal corporation.” but is not excluded from the category of “governmental entit[ies].” There are at least some Labor Code violations for which a PAGA suit against Alameda may proceed. View "Stone v. Alameda Health System" on Justia Law
Andrew Allen v. Atlas Box and Crating Co., Inc.
Plaintiff claimed Atlas Box and Crating Company, fired him because of his race. Allen filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Atlas and the staffing agency, and concedes he received right-to-sue letters by August 8, 2018. Plaintiff, acting pro se, delivered four documents to the clerk of the district court. The applications were stamped “filed” and entered as filed motions on the district court’s electronic docket. On November 8, 2018—92 days after Plaintiff received the right-to-sue letters—a magistrate judge recommended denying the motions for relief from the filing fee. Four days after Plaintiff paid the filing fee and 131 days after he received the right-to-sue letters—the district court directed the clerk to file Plaintiff’s complaint. Eight months later, the district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on the ground that Plaintiff’s action was time-barred. The district court concluded Plaintiff was not entitled to equitable tolling. The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment. The court held that Plaintiff commenced this action within the statutory period by timely delivering a complaint to the district court clerk. Because he did so, no consideration of equitable tolling is necessary. The court held that an action under federal law is commenced for limitations purposes when a plaintiff delivers a complaint to the district court clerk—regardless of whether the plaintiff pays the filing fee, neglects to do so, or asks to be excused from the fee requirement. View "Andrew Allen v. Atlas Box and Crating Co., Inc." on Justia Law
TIFFANY HILL V. XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, ET AL
Appellee worked at a Xerox Business Services, LLC (“XBS”) call center and was compensated according to a proprietary system of differential pay rates known as Achievement Based Compensation (“ABC”). Section 4 of the 2002 Dispute Resolution Plan ("DRP") required XBS and its agents to submit “all disputes” to binding arbitration for final and exclusive resolution. Appellee never signed the 2002 DRP. XBS issued an updated DRP (“2012 DRP”). XBS filed a motion to compel individual arbitration by 2,927 class members who had signed the 2002 DRP. The district court found that XBS had waived its right to compel arbitration. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying XBS's motion to compel. The panel noted that following Morgan v. Sundance, 142 S. Ct. 1708 (2022), the Ninth Circuit’s test for waiver of the right to compel arbitration consists of two elements: (1) knowledge of an existing right to compel arbitration; and (2) intentional acts inconsistent with that existing right. XBS challenged both prongs of the test. The panel held that XBS was correct that the district court could not compel nonparties to the case to arbitrate until after a class had been certified and the notice and opt-out period were complete. However, XBS failed to appreciate that waiver was a unilateral concept. The panel held that further undercutting XBS’s position was its own actions throughout the course of the litigation, in which XBS raised the 2012 DRP as to putative class members before the class had been certified and before it had the ability to move to enforce that agreement against them. View "TIFFANY HILL V. XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law
Bradley v. Village of University Park
In 2013, University Park hired Bradley as chief of police; in 2014 it renewed his contract for two years. In 2015, after new elections changed the balance of political power, Bradley was fired without notice or an opportunity for a hearing. Bradley filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 2016, the district court held that Bradley failed to state a viable procedural due process claim. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The village had conceded that Bradley had a property interest in his job; firing Bradley without notice or an opportunity to be heard would have deprived him of that property without due process of law. The court rejected the district court’s view that the due process violation by the mayor and village board was “random and unauthorized.”On remand, the district court permitted the defendants to reverse course and argue that Bradley did not have a property interest in his job. The court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed with respect to Bradley’s federal claim against the village. The defendants should be held to their unconditional concession. The court remanded for a determination of relief on the due process claim against the village and to allow the district court, if necessary, to address Mayor Covington’s qualified immunity defense. View "Bradley v. Village of University Park" on Justia Law
Hoagbin v. School District No. 28-0017
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Millard Public Schools, and dismissing Plaintiff's action brought under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (NWPCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1228, holding that the district court did not err.Defendant underpaid Plaintiff, a public school teacher, for several years. In 2018, the salary error was discovered, and Defendant corrected Plaintiff's salary retroactive to the start of the 2018-19 year. Relying on a provision in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) stating that any errors found in salutary "shall only be corrected retroactive to the beginning of the year in which the error was discovered." Plaintiff brought this suit, alleging that he had an individual statutory right to payment under the NWPCA and that this right could not be waived. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the compensation sought by Plaintiff was not "wages" as defined under the NWPCA and that the terms of the CBA on which the district court relied were not against public policy. View "Hoagbin v. School District No. 28-0017" on Justia Law
Rocha v. U-Haul Co. of Cal.
Appellants (the brothers) appealed following a judgment affirming an arbitration award that resolves an employment dispute between the brothers, their former employer, defendant and respondent U-Haul Co. of California (U-Haul), and their former manager at U-Haul and Respondent. On appeal, the brothers challenge the court’s order compelling their dispute to arbitration, arguing that the arbitration agreement they signed with U-Haul is unconscionable and thus unenforceable. The Second Appellate District affirmed the order compelling arbitration. The brothers also challenged the court’s order, issued before the court ordered the matter to arbitration, denying them leave to amend their complaint. The proposed amendment includes a Labor Code cause of action against Sandusky for unpaid wages regarding work the brothers allegedly performed at Respondent’s residence solely for his personal benefit. The court saw no basis for which the trial court could deny the brothers leave to assert such a claim. The brothers’ proposed amendment also includes a claim for relief under California’s Private Attorney General Act (the PAGA) based on the Labor Code violations by U-Haul and/or Respondent reflected in the proposed amended complaint. But the brothers cannot establish PAGA standing to bring a claim based on Labor Code violations by U-Haul already alleged in the operative complaint, because the arbitrator found no such violations occurred, and that finding has issue preclusive effect. The arbitrator’s finding does not affect the brothers’ ability to establish PAGA standing based on the proposed alleged Labor Code violation by Respondent involving unpaid wages; however, the court saw no other fatal deficiencies in the proposed PAGA claim against Respondent. View "Rocha v. U-Haul Co. of Cal." on Justia Law
Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc.
Tims filed a class-action lawsuit against Black Horse, his former employer, alleging violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (740 ILCS 14/15(a)), concerning the retention and deletion of biometric information, and sections 15(b) and 15(d), concerning the consensual collection and disclosure of biometric identifiers and biometric information. The Cook County circuit court denied a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely, reasoning that it was timely filed because the five-year limitations period (Code of Civil Procedure section 13-205) applied to the Act, which does not contain a limitations period. Tims subsequently amended his complaint to name an additional class representative. Black Horse moved to reconsider its motion to dismiss and to certify, for immediate appeal, the question of which limitations period controlled. The circuit court certified the question. The appellate court allowed the interlocutory appeal and held that the one-year limitations period (section 13-201) governs actions under section 15(c) and 15(d) of the Act and that the five-year limitations period governs actions under section 15(a), 15(b), and 15(e) of the Act.The Illinois Supreme Court held that the five-year default limitations period governs claims under the Act, noting the need to ensure certainty, predictability, and uniformity as to when the limitations period expires in each subsection. View "Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc." on Justia Law
Diaz v. City of Somerville
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment against Plaintiff, a police officer with the City of Somerville, and dismissing his wrongful discharge claim, holding that there was no error in the grant of summary judgment.Plaintiff was involved in an off-duty altercation with a civilian, who reported the matter. The Somerville police department conducted an internal investigation, during which Plaintiff lied about his conduct. After a hearing, the City determined that justice cause existed to terminate Plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit, alleging that his discharge was based on his race in violation of Title VII and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B. The district court entered summary judgment for the City. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed both claims on summary judgment. View "Diaz v. City of Somerville" on Justia Law
CASEY CLARKSON V. ALASKA AIRLINES, INC., ET AL
USERRA Section 4316(b)(1) requires employers to provide employees who take military leave with the same non-seniority rights and benefits as their colleagues who take comparable non-military leaves. Plaintiff, a commercial airline pilot and military reservist, filed a class action brought under USERRA. Plaintiff alleged that because Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air Industries (collectively, the “Airlines”) provide paid leave for non-military leaves, including jury duty, bereavement, and sick leave, the Airlines are also required to pay pilots during short-term military leaves. The district court disagreed, granting summary judgment to the Airlines and concluding as a matter of law that military leave is not comparable to any other form of leave offered by the Airlines. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The panel held that the district court erred in concluding that no reasonable jury could find military leave comparable to non-military leave. In reaching this conclusion, the district court erred by comparing all military leaves, rather than just the short-term military leaves at issue here, with the comparator non-military leaves. The district court also erred by disregarding factual disputes about each of the three factors in the comparability analysis: duration, purpose, and control. The panel held that because factual disputes existed, comparability was an issue for the jury. The panel, therefore, reversed and remanded. It instructed that on remand, the district court should consider in the first instance the issue of whether “pay during leave” was a standalone benefit that the airlines provided under their collective bargaining agreements to any employee on leave. View "CASEY CLARKSON V. ALASKA AIRLINES, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
United Natural Foods, Inc. v. Teamsters Local 414
A collective bargaining agreement (CBA), covered employees at United’s Indiana distribution center, prohibiting strikes and lock-outs during the life of the agreement. Negotiations over a successor agreement were ongoing when the existing agreement expired in September 2019. The agreement provided: So long as negations are ongoing, all terms and provisions of the existing CBA will continue to apply. However, “[i]n the event of a strike, the provisions of this section do not apply.” Bargaining over a new agreement came to a standstill on September 20. On December 12, Local 414 went on strike with a picket line at the Indiana facility. On December 17, Local 414 began additional picketing at United’s Minnesota and Wisconsin distribution centers. Workers there walked off the job. On December 18, Local 414 ended the strike and ceased picketing at the other sites. In July 2020, Local 414 engaged in another strike in Indiana.United filed suit under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, alleging that the strikes violated the CBA’s no-strike provisions. Local 414 moved to compel arbitration of the claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the claims were not subject to arbitration. The arbitration procedure is focused exclusively on employee-initiated grievances and does not apply to employer-initiated grievances. The arbitration clause is not reasonably susceptible to an interpretation that includes an employer-initiated dispute regarding the CBA’s terms. View "United Natural Foods, Inc. v. Teamsters Local 414" on Justia Law