Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Under Colorado law, employers must pay all employees time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours, with certain exemptions. Employers need not pay overtime wages to “companions, casual babysitters, and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences.” The question this case presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review was whether “companions” working for third-party employers (rather than for households or family members) fell within the companionship exemption. The Court determined they do. Accordingly, it reversed the district court’s judgment concluding otherwise. View "Jordan v. Maxim Healthcare Services" on Justia Law

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Non-California residents and former crew members of a vessel filed suit alleging violations of California state wage and hour laws against their employers and the owners of the vessel (petitioners). The trial court denied petitioners' motion for summary judgment on the theories that Louisiana rather than California law governed the employment relationships at issue, and that either the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the dormant commerce clause preempted California law with respect to these employees. The Court of Appeal granted petitioners' writ of mandate, holding that the trial court erred because Louisiana law, rather than California law, was applicable in this case. The court held that Louisiana's interest in the application of its laws was stronger than California's interest. Among other things, the employment relationships were formed in Louisiana, between Louisiana-based employers and non-resident employees who traveled to that state to apply for, and accept employment. Furthermore, they received training and orientation in Louisiana and the administrative aspects of their employment were performed in that state. View "Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC v. Superior Court of Ventura County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the labor and industrial relations commission denying Claimants' claim for enhanced mesothelioma benefits under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.200.4(3)(a), holding that because the deceased employee's employer (Employer) did not "elect to accept mesothelioma liability," Claimants were not entitled to the enhanced benefit. The decedent died from mesothelioma cause by toxic exposure to asbestos during his employment with Employer. Prior to his death, Claimants filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits and specifically sought enhanced benefits under subdivision 287.200.4(3)(a). An administrative law judge denied the claim. The commission affirmed the denial of the enhanced benefit, concluding that an employer that ceased operations sixteen years before section 287.200.4(3)(a) took effect could not have elected to accept enhanced liability under that section. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimants were not entitled to the enhanced benefit because Employer did not affirmatively elect to accept liability for the enhanced benefit as required under statute. View "Hegger v. Valley Farm Dairy Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. This case arose when plaintiff, a former practicing attorney, filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seeking to recover unpaid overtime wages. The district court held that genuine issues of material fact remained regarding plaintiff's independent contractor status. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff's former employer on a different basis. The court held that the FLSA did not apply to plaintiff, because the undisputed facts weigh in favor of plaintiff being an independent contractor. However, because the district court did not state its reasons for declining to award costs to the prevailing party, the court vacated the award of costs and remanded the issue to the district court. View "Faludi v. U.S. Shale Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Appellant's federal law claims under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, and on the state-law claims for discrimination, retaliation based on a complaint of age discrimination, and failure to investigate and vacated the summary judgment on the state law claims for retaliation based on a report of gender discrimination, breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and defamation, holding that the court erred in granting summary judgment as to these claims. This lawsuit arose from events that led to Appellant's retirement from his position as Fire Chief for the Fire Department of the Town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town on all of Appellant's federal and state law claims. The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) summary judgment was properly granted as to some of Appellant's claims; but (2) as to the remaining state law claims, there was no analogue to the common law claims in the federal law claims that were addressed, and rather than attempt to resolve the state law issues that were in dispute as to these claims, their dismissal was directed without prejudice. View "Robinson v. Town of Marshfield" on Justia Law

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Siranoush Hiatt appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision that affirmed the Idaho Department of Labor’s denial of her request for unemployment benefits. The Commission determined that Hiatt was ineligible for benefits because she was terminated from Health Care Idaho Credit Union (“HCICU”) for workplace-related misconduct. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed based on the substantial evidence in the record which supported the Commission’s decision. View "Hiatt v. Health Care ID Credit Union" on Justia Law

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Jackson served in the Marine Corps, 1977-1991. Almost 30 years after his honorable discharge, Jackson filed a pro se complaint alleging that toward the end of his military career, his supervising officers discriminated against him because he is a black male, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The district court inferred additional claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A), and the Military Pay Act, 37 U.S.C. 204 but ultimately dismissed all of Jackson’s claims. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. The court noted the unanimous rulings of other sister circuits, concluding that Title VII does not apply to uniformed members of the armed forces. Jackson’s APA claim was untimely and, although the limitations period is no longer considered jurisdictional, the facts alleged were insufficient to apply equitable tolling. Jackson was able to manage his affairs and comprehend his rights; he alleged that at the time of the alleged discrimination, he knew that he “had been subjected to wrongdoing and strongly desired justice.” The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the dismissal of Jackson’s Military Pay Act claim; the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction of such claims. View "Jackson v. Modly" on Justia Law

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Phillips injured his ribs while playing with his grandchildren. For two weeks, he called his employer, United, to report he would miss work. Phillips stopped calling in and did not appear for work on three consecutive days so United fired him. He sued, alleging United failed to properly notify him of his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2617, and that he was fired in retaliation for attempting to exercise his right to seek FMLA leave. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of the retaliation claim but remanded Phillips’s interference claim. A reasonable jury could find that Phillips’s injury constituted a serious health condition. If United failed to train its personnel to recognize FMLA-qualifying leave, that may factor into deciding whether Phillips provided sufficient notice of his need for leave. A jury must decide the factual question of whether the nature and amount of information he conveyed put United on notice and required United to notify Phillips whether the leave would be designated as FMLA leave. His wife attested had Phillips known United offered FMLA leave, he would have taken it. Other than that, the record does not reflect whether Phillips would have acted differently had United provided the requisite information Even if Phillips engaged in a protected activity and United took adverse employment action against him, Phillips failed to establish any causal connection between his alleged attempt to seek FMLA relief and his discharge. View "Lutes v. United Trailers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Zeon fired Jenkins on the ground that he violated the company’s attendance policy. Jenkins had missed work because of a 30-day jail sentence based on a felony conviction. The company had refused to suspend him for 30 days, something his 22 years of service made him eligible for, because it did not want to send the message that employees could commit crimes without consequences and nd it declined to let him use vacation days for the time because other employees had already scheduled their days for the relevant weeks. Consistent with the collective bargaining agreement, the local union took Jenkins’ discharge to arbitration. The arbitrator reinstated Jenkins. In a suit under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(c), the district court vacated the award on the ground that the arbitrator misread the agreement and exceeded his authority in doing so. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting the deferential standard for arbitration awards. Although the arbitrator’s merits analysis “has some eyesores,” it does not defeat the conclusion that he arguably construed the contract. View "Zeon Chemicals, L.P. v. United Food & Commercial Workers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the request of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to decide a question of California law regarding Industrial Welfare Commission wage order No. 7-2001 (Wage Order 7), which requires employers to pay their employees a minimum wage for all "hours worked," concluding that time spent on the employer's premises waiting for, and undergoing, mandatory exit searches of bags, packages, or personal technology devices voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience by employees is compensable as "hours worked" within the meaning of Wage Order 7. Employees filed a class action complaint against Employer, Apple Inc., alleging that Employer failed to pay them minimum and overtime wages for time spent waiting for and undergoing Employer's exit searches in violation of California law. A federal district court granted summary judgment for Employer. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit asked the Supreme Court to address the state law issue. The Supreme Court concluded that, in the instant case, Employees' time spent on Employer's premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices, such as iPhones, brought to work purely for personal convenience, is compensable as "hours worked" within the meaning of Wage Order 7. View "Frlekin v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law