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The Public Utility District No. 1 of Kittitas County (district) fired Kim Mikkelsen after 27 years of service. Mikkelsen sued the district, alleging that, among other things, her dismissal violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). Specifically, Mikkelsen claims that Charles Ward, the general manager, exhibited a bias against women and older employees and that gender and age discrimination were substantial factors in his decision to fire her. She also argued her dismissal violated the progressive correction action policy the district distributed to its employees. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment dismissal of Mikkelsen's age discrimination claim because Mikkelsen presented almost no evidence of age discrimination. But the Court reversed summary judgment dismissal of Mikkelsen's gender discrimination claim because the facts taken in the light most favorable to her create a material issue of fact about whether gender discrimination was a substantial factor in Ward's decision to fire her. The corrective action policy was ambiguous and could plausibly be read as establishing a for-cause standard for dismissal. View "Mikkelsen v. Pub. Util. Dist. No. 1 of Kittitas County" on Justia Law

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In an appeal by allowance, the issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s review was whether, in the context of a grievance arbitration award, an arbitrator has subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate a dispute between a union and a municipality arising out of a surviving spouse’s pension benefit, where the benefit was afforded to the surviving spouse statutorily and incorporated into the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Pamela Cimino’s husband, Thomas J. Cimino, was a police officer for the City of Arnold, Pennsylvania (City) from July 1, 1990 until April 4, 2002. On April 4, 2002, Officer Cimino died off-duty of natural causes. At the time of his death, Officer Cimino had completed 11.77 years of service. The City issued Mrs. Cimino 142 consecutive monthly death benefit payments, from May 1, 2002 to February 1, 2014. However, in a 2014 compliance audit, the Commonwealth Auditor General’s Office determined that the City was incorrectly administering the death benefit. According to the Auditor General’s compliance audit, the City had been paying Mrs. Cimino twice as much as it should have under its interpretation of the applicable statute. The Wage Policy Committee of the City of Arnold Police Department (Union) initiated a grievance on behalf of Mrs. Cimino to dispute the 50% reduction in her death benefit pension payments. The Union followed the grievance procedure contained in the CBA between the City and the Union. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded a dispute as here was arbitrable under the Policemen and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act (“Act 111”), 43 P.S. secs. 217.1-217.10, because the surviving spouse’s pension benefit was incorporated into the CBA. Accordingly, the Court reversed the order of the Commonwealth Court which held to the contrary. View "City of Arnold v. Wage Policy Committee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision affirming the decision by the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board denying Joyce Crouse’s claim for unemployment benefits. The district court affirmed the Board’s conclusion that Crouse did not qualify for unemployment benefits because her voluntary termination did not constitute “good cause” pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 39-51-2302. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court, holding (1) the findings of the Board were supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the district court correctly affirmed the Board’s decision to deny Crouse’s claim for benefits because she voluntarily resigned her position. View "Crouse v. State, Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") appealed a judgment affirming a decision of an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") that had reversed WSI's administrative reclassification of Questar Energy Services, Inc.'s ("Questar") employees. n July 2012, Questar applied for and received insurance coverage from WSI. Following an audit in 2014, WSI determined Questar's employees had been improperly classified and reclassified Questar's employees. The classification of employees directly impacts the insurance rate used to calculate Questar's premiums for the insurance received from WSI. WSI contends the ALJ applied the wrong standard of review, improperly excluded from evidence the changes to the Rate Classification Manual, and erred in determining classification of Questar's employees was not supported by the record. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded after review, the ALJ's underlying factual conclusions were supported by a preponderance of the evidence, and affirmed. View "WSI v. Questar Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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North Dakota, by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Youth Correctional Center, petitioned for a supervisory writ directing a district court to vacate its July 18, 2017 order denying the State's motion for summary judgment on Delmar Markel's negligence claim. Markel cross-petitioned for a supervisory writ directing the district court to vacate its January 21, 2016 order dismissing Markel's claim for constructive and retaliatory discharge. Markel worked at the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center on December 9, 2012, when several inmates broke out of their locked rooms. The inmates injured Markel during their escape. In 2015, Markel brought a complaint against the State alleging one count of negligence for failure to fix faulty locks permitting the inmates to escape and one count of constructive and retaliatory discharge. The State argued that the Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") Act in N.D.C.C. Title 65 barred Markel's negligence claim and that Markel failed to exhaust administrative remedies regarding his discharge claim. On January 21, 2016, the district court dismissed the discharge claim for failure to pursue available administrative remedies. The district court also denied the State's motion to dismiss Markel's negligence claim. The North Dakota Supreme Court exercised its original jurisdiction by granting the State's petition and denying Markel's cross-petition. The district court erred as a matter of law in denying the State's motion to dismiss Markel's negligence claim. Markel failed to allege and support at least an "intentional act done with the conscious purpose of inflicting the injury" to overcome the State's immunity. The State had no adequate remedy to avoid defending a suit from which it has immunity. View "North Dakota v. Haskell" on Justia Law

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San Francisco Baseball Associates (the Giants) unsuccessfully moved to compel arbitration of the wage and hour claims of Melendez, a security guard employed at AT&T Park. Melendez argued that he and other security guards were employed “intermittingly” for specific assignments and were discharged “at the end of a homestand, at the end of a baseball season, at the end of an inter-season event like a fan fest, college football game, a concert, a series of shows, or other events,” and, under Labor Code section 201, were entitled to but did not receive immediate payment of their final wages upon each “discharge.” The Giants argued that immediate payment was not required because, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Giants and the union, Melendez and all such security guards are not intermittent employees but are “year-round employees who remain employed with the Giants until they resign or are terminated pursuant to the CBA.” The Giants argued that the action is preempted by section 301 of the federal Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(a). The court of appeal affirmed, finding that the dispute is not within the scope of the CBA's arbitration provision but that arbitration is required by section 301. View "Melendez v. San Francisco Baseball Associates" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the denial of petitioner's unfair labor practice complaint. The panel held that the NLRB properly applied a new standard for deferring to arbitral decisions only prospectively. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the arbitral decision under the previous deferral standard. The panel applied a five-factor analysis in Montgomery Ward & Co. v. FTC, 691 F.2d 1322, 1333 (9th Cir. 1982), to balance the interests in considering retroactive application of a new standard and held that the NLRB properly applied the new standard only prospectively. Although petitioner's case was one of first impression before the Board, the other four factors of the retroactivity test substantially outweighed that one factor. View "Beneli v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Greggory Owings sustained an on-the-job injury, for which he received long-term disability benefits by defendant United of Omaha Life Insurance Company (United), under the terms of a group insurance policy issued by United to Owings’ employer. Owings disagreed with, and attempted without success to administratively challenge, the amount of his disability benefits. He then filed suit against United in Kansas state court, but United removed the action to federal district court, asserting that the federal courts had original jurisdiction over the action because the policy was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of United. Owings appealed. The Tenth Circuit concluded after review of this matter that United was arbitrary and capricious in determining the date that Owings became disabled and, in turn, in calculating the amount of his disability benefits. Consequently, the Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of United and remanded with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of Owings. View "Owings v. United of Omaha Life" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division, granted the petition of the City of Schenecatdy, and annulled the determination of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, which determined that the City committed an improper employer practice by enacting General Order 0-43. The general order adopted new police disciplinary procedures that differed from those contained in the parties’ expired collective bargaining agreement. Supreme Court dismissed the City’s petition, concluding that N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 14 (the Taylor Law) superseded the provisions of the Second Class Cities Law regarding police discipline. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower courts, holding that the relevant provisions of the Second Class Cities Law were not superseded by the enactment of the Taylor Law, and therefore, police discipline is a prohibited subject of bargaining in the City of Schenectady. View "City of Schenectady v. New York State Public Employment Relations Board" on Justia Law

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Sections 8-102(16)(c) and 8-107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. Plaintiffs, officers with the New York City Police Department, were referred to the internal counseling services unit of that police force (CSU) for assistance with their purported alcohol abuse. The CSU determined that each plaintiff suffered from alcoholism. The parties now agree that Plaintiffs were not actually alcoholics. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that Defendants discriminated against them by subjecting them to adverse employment actions based on the mistakenly perceived disability of alcoholism. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Defendants appealed. In answer to a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court of Appeals held that the Administrative Code does not consider a mistaken perception of alcoholism to be a disability covered by the NYCHRL. View "Makinen v. City of New York" on Justia Law