Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Deborah Dorr requested to reopen an unemployment appeal hearing that was to address Dorr’s appeal of the Idaho Department of Labor’s (“IDOL”) decision denying Dorr’s request to backdate her Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim. After Dorr failed to appear at the hearing, IDOL dismissed her appeal and subsequently denied her request to reopen the hearing. Dorr appealed IDOL’s denial of her request to reopen, and the Idaho Industrial Commission (“the Commission”) affirmed. The Commission determined due process was satisfied and agreed with IDOL that Dorr’s own negligence was insufficient cause to reopen the hearing. Appealing pro se, Dorr petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court for relief. The Supreme Court concluded Dorr’s briefing did not meet the standard for an appeal under Idaho Appellate Rule 35(a)(6) and as such, her arguments were forfeited. The Commission’s decision upholding the Appeal Examiner’s denial of Dorr’s request to reopen her appeal hearing was affirmed. View "Dorr v. IDOL" on Justia Law

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Three independent contractors of Eastman Chemical Company were severely injured, one of them fatally, when a pump exploded during maintenance. Eastman moved to dismiss their state-law personal injury suits, contending that the contractors qualified as Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law – which would mean that workers’ compensation was their exclusive remedy and that the courts lacked jurisdiction to hear their claims.   The district court agreed that Plaintiffs were Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the workers’ compensation law and dismissed their actions. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held their cases in abeyance pending the decision of South Carolina’s Supreme Court in Keene v. CNA Holdings, LLC, 870 S.E.2d 156 (2021).   The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling. The court explained that in Keene, when an employer makes a “legitimate business decision” to outsource a portion of its work, the contractors it hires to perform that work are not “statutory employees” for workers’ compensation purposes. 870 S.E.2d at 163. No party here contests that Eastman’s outsourcing of its maintenance and repair work was a “legitimate business decision.” It follows that the plaintiffs, independent contractors performing maintenance at the time of the 2016 pump explosion, were not statutory employees and may bring personal injury actions. View "Sallie Zeigler v. Eastman Chemical Company" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, formerly a tenured theology teacher at a Roman Catholic high school in Staten Island, appealed from the dismissal of his complaint against his labor union, the Federation of Catholic Teachers (the “FCT”), for allegedly breaching its duty of fair representation under the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act (the “LMRA”), and for assorted violations under the New York State and New York City human rights laws. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s duty-of-fair representation claim with prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), reasoning that the NLRA and LMRA are inapplicable to disputes between parochial-school teachers and their labor unions under NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 440 U.S. 490 (1979).   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded, as a matter of first impression, that Catholic Bishop does preclude Plaintiff’s duty-of-fair-representation claim, but that dismissal was warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, rather than for lack of federal subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The court also concluded that Plaintiff has abandoned any challenge to the dismissal of his state and municipal-law claims. View "Jusino v. Fed'n of Cath. Tchrs., Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants Balubhai Patel, DTWO & E, Inc. (DTWO), and Stuart Union, LLC (Stuart Union) (collectively, appellants) have been before this court numerous times in connection with a labor dispute with a former employee, Defendant, that resulted in two California Labor Commissioner orders (ODAs) in Defendant’s favor. The instant appeal challenges a superior court order forfeiting a bond Appellants had posted in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the ODAs, as well as a judgment against them as bond principals.   The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that the only bonds Appellants posted here were for the exact amount owed under the ODAs— not double or one and one-half times that amount. Thus, aside from the fact that, when Appellants posted the bonds, Appellants identified the bonds as undertakings related to their attempted section 98.2 appeal to the trial court, not an appeal with this court, the bonds were insufficient to stay the actions below based on the pendency of any appeal with this court. The trial court, therefore, did not lack jurisdiction based on the pendency of related appeals in this court.   Further, the court held that Appellants’ jurisdictional arguments misunderstand the relationship between bonds issued pursuant to section 98.2 and jurisdiction. The statute expressly contemplates a situation in which an attempted section 98.2 appeal has failed without there necessarily having been an adjudication on the merits or jurisdiction to hear a section 98.2 appeal, and the court is not only empowered but required to satisfy the relevant ODA from a bond posted under such circumstances. View "Patel v. Chavez" on Justia Law

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Oak Park hired Barwin as its village manager in 2006, as an at-will employee. He had previously worked as a city manager in Michigan. Barwin resigned under threat of termination 30 months before his pension rights vested. Barwin alleged that Oak Park breached its contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing by forcing him out of his job to prevent his pension from vesting and by refusing to honor its practice of allowing senior employees to purchase out-of-state pension credits to meet the vesting threshold.The district court rejected Barwin’s claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part. Barwin has no plausible contract claim for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing based on an expectation that the Village would not fire him or force him to resign to prevent him from reaching retirement eligibility. As an at-will employee, Barwin had no enforceable expectation that he would remain employed long enough to meet the vesting threshold. The district court erred in entering summary judgment on the claim that Oak Park breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing by not allowing Barwin to purchase out-of-state pension credits as it had historically done with other employees. His employment contract entitled him to the same benefits that other senior employees enjoyed “by practice.” A finder of fact could reasonably conclude that the Village had a practice of allowing such employees to purchase out-of-state pension credits. View "Barwin v. Village of Oak Park" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals determining that one need not be prejudiced to be an "adversely affected" party, as that phrase is used in Ohio Rev. Code 119.12(I), holding that the phrase "adversely affected" as used in the statute imposes a prejudice requirement.After the State Personnel Board of Review ordered that Kristy Goudy be reinstated to her position at the Tuscarawas County Public Defender's Office, the public defender's office appealed. The personnel board, however, failed timely to certify a complete record. It subsequently corrected the error and certified the remainder of the record outside the allotted time. The court of common pleas ruled that the public defender's office was not an adversely affected party because the delay in certifying the record did not cause any prejudice to the office. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in concluding that section 119.12(I) does not contain a prejudice requirement; and (2) prejudice was not shown in this case. View "Goudy v. Tuscarawas County Public Defender" on Justia Law

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Several FVF ("the Defendant") employees filed a class action lawsuit against the Defendant alleging, among other things, that the company did not pay minimum and overtime wages. They also alleged a cause of action under the Private Attorney Generals Act ("PAGA") for civil penalties “for themselves and other current and former employees” for “labor law violations.” Defendant sought to compel arbitration based on agreements each of the employees had signed.In response, the employees claimed they did not recognize the purported arbitration agreement or the signatures on them. Moreover, the agreement presented by FVF contained unconscionable provisions. The trial court found that FVF did not prove the employees entered into a valid arbitration agreement.On appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed, finding that, while employment agreements that compel the waiver of representative claims under the Private Attorney Generals Act are no longer generally contrary to public policy, the agreement in this case was unconscionable. View "Navas v. Fresh Venture Foods, LLC" on Justia Law

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The controversy, in this case, is rooted in the propriety of a lawyer charging a wage earner a contingent attorney’s fee for prosecuting the wage earner’s Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims in a U.S. District Court. The wage earner paid the contingent fee and then sued his lawyer in Alabama state court to recover part of the fee. That court stayed the action so the wage earner and his lawyer could present the attorney’s fee controversy to the District Court that had presided over the FLSA case. The district court found the contingent fee excessive, ordered the lawyer to return the attorney’s fee, and dismissed the proceeding as moot.   The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal and instructed the district court to vacate its order and deny the attorney’s and Plaintiff’s motions for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court explained that had Plaintiff’s Rule 60 motion sought actual Rule 60 relief, the district court would have had jurisdiction to entertain it because the district court had jurisdiction over the underlying FLSA and employment discrimination controversy. But Plaintiff did not ask for—and the District Court did not grant—the type of relief authorized by Rule 60. Doing anything more than reopening the matter that had previously been dismissed, which is all Rule 60 allows, required an independent jurisdictional basis. The district court did not have such an independent jurisdictional basis when it litigated the state court breach of contract action as if it had been brought under 28 U.S.C. Section 1332. View "Carlos Padilla v. Redmont Properties LLC, et al" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to reverse its decision awarding Appellant temporary-total-disability (TTD) compensation after sustaining a work injury, holding that the Commission's order was neither unsupported by evidence in the record nor was it contrary to law.Appellant gave Appellee two weeks' notice of her intention to resign and subsequently sustained a work injury. The Commission awarded Appellant TTD compensation. The court of appeals granted a writ ordering the Commission to reverse its decision because Appellant had resigned from her employment prior to her injury. Relying on the Supreme Court's opinion in State ex rel. Klein v. Precision Excavating & Grading Co., 119 N.E.3d 386 (Ohio 2018), the court of appeals granted the writ. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the decision in Klein did not redefine voluntary abandonment of the workforce as voluntary abandonment of the injured worker's position; and (2) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in determining that, but for her work injury, Appellant would have remained gainfully employed. View "State ex rel. Ohio State University v. Pratt" on Justia Law

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Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part three orders issued by two separate judges presiding over two separate but related cases in the circuit court, holding that remand was required.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Praetorian Insurance Company's motion to intervene in Plaintiff's wrongful death action against its insured, Air Cargo Carriers, LLC for lack of standing to assert Air Cargo's right to workers' compensation immunity; (2) erred in denying Praetorian's motion for summary judgment as to count one of its declaratory judgment complaint; and (3) correctly dismissed count two of Praetorian's declaratory judgment complaint on the grounds that Praetorian lacked standing. View "Praetorian Insurance Co. v. Chau" on Justia Law