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The Retired Oakland Police Officers Association obtained a writ of mandate against the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System directing that master police officer-terrorism pay (MPO pay) be included in the calculation of pension benefits. Under the retirement system, a retiree’s pension is a fixed percentage of the compensation currently “attached to the average rank” held by the retiree at the time of retirement. The court of appeal reversed. The trial court erred in concluding that MPO pay is “compensation attached to . . . rank” as required by the Oakland City Charter for inclusion in pension benefits. In 2009-2015, MPO pay was paid to all officers who had completed 20 years of service in the Department; maintained fully effective overall performance appraisals during the assignment; attended and completed an approved anti-terrorism/law enforcement response course; and been assigned to the patrol division. The requirement that an officer be assigned to the patrol division to receive MPO pay compels the conclusion that MPO pay is not attached to the officer’s rank. The agreement that added MPO pay did not restructure the relevant ranks or create an additional step within an existing rank. View "Retired Oakland Police Officers Association v. Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the university and others, alleging in part that defendants violated his procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when they placed him on involuntary leave and later terminated his employment. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in denying summary judgment to the then-President of the University, John Schwaller, on the ground of qualified immunity. The court held that failure to comply with a state procedural requirement—such as the New York Civil Service Law—does not necessarily defeat a claim for qualified immunity under federal law. Because the district court based its holding almost exclusively on Schwaller's failure to comply with the New York State Civil Service Law, it legally erred by not accessing whether his conduct violated the procedural guarantees of the federal Due Process Clause. The court held that plaintiff's placement on involuntary leave was not a deprivation of a property interest sufficient to trigger due process requirements. Therefore, Schwaller's conduct did not violate clearly established federal law and he was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss the due process claim against Schwaller. View "Tooly v. Schwaller" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina certified a question of state law to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Plaintiff was a former employee of BMW at its manufacturing facility in Spartanburg. During his employment, Plaintiff was subject to random drug tests. BMW contracted with Defendant to test hair samples of BMW employees for the presence of drugs. Plaintiff was selected for a random drug test, which was administered on-site by a contract nurse from a local hospital. According to Defendant's analysis, his hair sample tested positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine (the primary metabolite of cocaine). Though Plaintiff asserted that he had not used any illegal substances, BMW suspended Plaintiff pending an investigation. On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a hair sample to an independent drug testing laboratory whose report determined that Plaintiff's hair tested negative for any illegal substances. BMW refused to accept the independent laboratory's results but permitted Plaintiff to submit a second hair sample for analysis by Defendant. The second hair sample also tested positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine. BMW subsequently terminated Plaintiff due to the positive drug test results. Plaintiff maintained he was not and had never been a drug user. Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant, alleging negligence and negligent supervision. In response, Defendant filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss on the basis that Defendant did not owe a duty to Plaintiff. The certified question posed to the South Carolina Supreme Court asked whether a drug testing laboratory contracted with an employer to conduct and evaluate drug tests, owed a duty of care to employees subject to such testing that gives rise to a cause of action for negligence for failure to properly and accurately perform the test and report the results. The Supreme Court responded in the affirmative: “without the recognition of a duty, a terminated employee is often left without a means for redress, while the drug testing laboratory is effectively immunized from liability. … Therefore, absent a duty of care, drug testing laboratories are able to avoid liability for their negligence.” View "Shaw v. Psychemedics Corporation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ complaint claiming entitlement to unpaid wages based on his commute time in a company van, holding that commute time in a company-provided vehicle is not compensable under Wisconsin law. Field service technicians employed by Defendant traveled to customers’ locations in Defendant’s vans and had the choice of commuting between work and home in either their personal vehicles or the company’s vans. Defendant did not provide compensation time for technicians’ travel time between home and work, leading Plaintiffs to file this lawsuit. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed, holding that genuine issues of material facts existed as to whether Wisconsin’s statutes and regulations require payment for commuting time in a company-provided vehicle. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that travel is not compensable where an employee drives a company-provided vehicle between home and a jobsite. View "Kieninger v. Crown Equipment Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment as a matter of law to Defendant-employer on Plaintiff’s age discrimination claims and Puerto Rico law claims and granting in part Defendant’s summary judgment motion, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. After Plaintiff was laid off as part of Defendant’s effort to cut costs, Plaintiff sued the hospital under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621-634 and Puerto Rico antidiscrimination and tort law. The district court granted summary judgment in part for Defendant, finding that Defendant had facially legitimate, non-discriminatory grounds to terminate Plaintiff’s position. A jury trial ensued, but at the close of evidence the district court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there were fatal and uncontradicted defects in Defendant’s prima facie theory of liability as established by the evidence at trial. View "Hoffman-Garcia v. Metrohealth, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the orders of the district court judge’s rulings dismissing Plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim and granting summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s unjust discharge and age discrimination claims and awarded Defendant its costs on this appeal, holding that the judge committed no reversible error. In this diversity case governed by Puerto Rico law, the district court judge dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against her former employer on Defendant’s motions to dismiss and for summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the judge properly dismissed Plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim because Plaintiff did not plausibly plead that her firing constituted sexual orientation discrimination; and (2) the judge properly granted summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s unjust discharge and age discrimination claims. View "Villeneuve v. Avon Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court awarding Matthew Vacca actual and punitive damages, including substantial future lost wages, on his claim that he was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging disability discrimination, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to apply judicial estoppel to Vacca’s claim of future lost wages. The circuit court found Vacca claimed in this case that he could have continued to work as an administrative law judge (ALJ) for twenty more years. In Vacca’s ongoing dissolution proceeding, however, he claimed he was entitled to maintenance because he was totally unable to work due to his disability. The circuit court concluded that it was barred from applying judicial estoppel because the dissolution judgment had been remanded for further proceedings based on evidentiary errors. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) once a party takes inconsistent positions, there are no fixed prerequisites to application of judicial estoppel; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to apply judicial estoppel to preclude Vacca from making the inconsistent claim that he was able to work as an ALJ for another twenty years with reasonable accommodations. View "Vacca v. Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court interpreted Milwaukee County General Ordinance 201.24(4.1) to mean that employees not covered by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) were entitled to the benefit of the “Rule of 75” if they were hired prior to January 1, 2006, and that, on September 29, 2011, the operative date of the County’s amended ordinance, members of Milwaukee District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (DC-48) were not covered by the terms of a CBA because the last CBA had expired. At issue were pension benefits, known as the Rule of 75, to certain DC-48 members. The County enacted an ordinance granting Rule of 75 benefits to all employees “not covered by the terms of a [CBA]” as long as those employees were hired before 2006. DC-48 sought a declaratory judgment that its members were not covered by the terms of a CBA and that all members hired prior to January 1, 2006 were eligible for the Rule of 75. The circuit court concluded that DC-48 members were not covered by the terms of a CBA on September 29, 2011. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to an active CBA, the members of DC-48 were not “covered by the terms” of a CBA on September 29, 2011. View "Milwaukee District Council 48 v. Milwaukee County" on Justia Law

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Hernandez filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in December 2016, reporting one sizable asset: a pending workers’ compensation claim valued at $31,000. To place that claim beyond the reach of creditors, she listed it as exempt under section 21 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305/21, applicable via 11 U.S.C. 522(b). Two days after filing for bankruptcy, Hernandez settled the claim. Hernandez owed significant sums to three healthcare providers who treated her work-related injuries. The providers objected to her claimed exemption, arguing that 2005 amendments to the Illinois Act enable unpaid healthcare providers to reach workers’ compensation awards and settlements. The bankruptcy court denied the exemption and the district judge affirmed. The Seventh Circuit certified to the Illinois Supreme Court the question: Whether the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, as amended, allows care-provider creditors to reach the proceeds of workers’ compensation claims. The court noted that Section 21 has been interpreted by bankruptcy courts to create an exemption for these assets; 2005 amendments imposed a new fee schedule and billing procedure for care providers seeking remuneration. The Illinois Supreme Court has not addressed the interplay between these competing components of state workers’ compensation law. View "Hernandez v. Marque Medicos Fullerton, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the University in an action brought by a sociology professor, alleging claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. The court held that, although plaintiff established a pay disparity between her and two former administrators, she failed to present evidence creating a genuine issue of material fact that the administrators were appropriate comparators. The court also held that, in any event, the University based the administrators' higher pay on their prior service as University administrators, not their sex. View "Spencer v. Virginia State University" on Justia Law