Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff-respondent Sarah Coughenour worked for defendant-appellant Del Taco, LLC, starting when she was 16 years old. When she was first employed by Del Taco, she signed a “Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate” (Agreement). After Coughenour reached the age of 18, she continued working for Del Taco for four months. Coughenour quit and filed a lawsuit against Del Taco for sexual harassment committed by one of their employees, wage and hour claims brought pursuant to the Labor Code, and other claims under the Fair Housing and Employment Housing Act. Del Taco moved to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the Motion, finding that Coughenour’s filing of the lawsuit was a disaffirmance of the Agreement within the meaning of Family Code section 6710, which allowed a person upon reaching majority age to disaffirm a contract entered into while a minor. Del Taco appealed the denial of its motion, arguing that by working for Del Taco for four months after she reached the age of majority, Coughenour ratified the Agreement, which estopped her power to disaffirm the Agreement. In the alternative, Del Taco argued that Coughenour did not disaffirm the Agreement within a “reasonable time” after reaching the age of 18 as required by Family Code section 6710. The Court of Appeal affirmed denial of Del Taco's motion: [t]he filing of the lawsuit was notice that [Coughenour] disaffirmed the Agreement." The trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that Coughenour disaffirmed the Agreement within a reasonable time. View "Coughenour v. Del Taco" on Justia Law

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In this case, the real parties in interest and plaintiffs were former store managers for petitioner-defendant Big Lots Inc., who claimed they spent less than 50 percent of their worktime on managerial tasks and, as a result, should have been paid overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of a standard 40-hour week. Big Lots was an Ohio corporation. When this lawsuit was first filed, it retained a California law firm, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP (Haight Brown), as counsel of record. Big Lots later sought the superior court’s permission for attorneys from an Ohio law firm, Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLP (Vorys), to also represent it. The trial judge ultimately granted applications filed by three different attorneys in the Vorys firm. But after later being advised that these Ohio attorneys were attempting to represent various current and former Big Lots managers in depositions noticed by plaintiffs, the court revoked pro hac vice authorization for all three lawyers. Big Lots petitioned for a writ of mandamus to overturn that order. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that there was a between an attorney’s representation of the defendant corporation in a lawsuit and his or her representation of current or former employee witnesses. "Pro hac vice admission as to one client does not necessarily allow a lawyer to represent a different client even if substantive law does not otherwise prohibit it." The Court nonetheless concluded the total revocation of pro hac vice status for the Vorys attorneys was not supported by the record then before the trial court. The petition to vacated the revocation order was granted, but the matter was returned to the trial court for additional hearings/orders deemed necessary. View "Big Lots Stores v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Bob's Tire petitioned for review of the Board's order concluding that Bob's violated the National Labor Relations Act. Bob's argued, among other things, that subcontracted work was not bargaining unit work and that, even if it was, the unit employees are owed no remedy because the subcontracting did not cause the loss of any jobs or hours of employment. The Board and the union cross-petitioned for enforcement of the order.The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, agreeing with the Board that there is substantial evidence in the record supporting its findings that petitioner failed to bargain with the union before subcontracting bargaining unit work. The court also agreed that an employer's duty to bargain over subcontracting "is not limited to situations in which employees are laid off or replaced." The court expressed no view as to whether the employees affected by Bob's unfair labor practices are due any backpay. The court also rejected petitioner's "joint-employer" argument as specious, and found that it was without jurisdiction to consider petitioner's arguments regarding the performance-based bonus program where petitioner failed to present the issue before the Board. The court granted the cross-motion for enforcement of the Board's order. View "Bob's Tire Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court denying the plea to the jurisdiction filed by Defendant, a governmental employer, and dismissed Plaintiff's age-discrimination claim for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act did not waive Defendant's sovereign immunity from this suit.Plaintiff sued for age discrimination. Defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction. The trial court denied the plea, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to submit legally sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of discrimination; and (2) because the legislature has not waived governmental immunity in the absence of such evidence, Plaintiff's age-discrimination claim must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. View "Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center-El Paso v. Flores" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment notwithstanding the verdict but reversed its remand in the interest of justice, holding that the court of appeals correctly concluded that the evidence did not show that Employer believed that its actions were substantially certain to injure Plaintiff and that remand was not appropriate.Plaintiff was injured in a workplace accident. Plaintiff received workers' compensation medical and disability benefits for his injuries. Plaintiff then sued Employer for negligence and gross negligence, arguing that the common-law exception to the rule that the Texas Workers' Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for employees who sustain nonfatal work-related injuries requiring that the defendant have a specific intent to injure the plaintiff applied. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, and the trial court entered judgment on the jury's verdict. The court of appeals reversed and rendered judgment for Employer. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment notwithstanding the verdict and reversed its remand in the interest of justice, holding that the evidence confirmed that the accident fell short of a "genuine intentional injury." View "Berkel & Co. Contractors, Inc. v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt application of California's ABC test, originally set forth in Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903, and eventually codified by Assembly Bill 2257 (AB 2257), to determine whether a federally licensed interstate motor carrier has correctly classified its truck drivers as independent contractors.The court held that defendants have not demonstrated, as they must under People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 772, 785-87, that application of the ABC test prohibits motor carriers from using independent contractors or otherwise directly affects motor carriers' prices, routes, or services. Furthermore, nothing in Pac Anchor nor the FAAAA's legislative history suggests Congress intended to preempt a worker-classification test applicable to all employers in the state. The court granted a peremptory writ of mandate directing respondent court to vacate its order granting in part defendants' motion in limine, and enter a new order denying that motion because the statutory amendments implemented by AB 2257 are not preempted by the FAAAA. View "People v. Superior Court (Cal Cartage Transportation Express, LLC)" on Justia Law

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Chris Oden appealed a judgment entered against him in a collection action after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, through Workforce Safety and Insurance, (“WSI”). In May 2010, Oden was injured in Missouri while employed by Minot Builders Supply Associates as a truck driver. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Oden’s motion to dismiss for insufficient service of process, and did not err in granting summary judgment to WSI. View "WSI v. Oden" on Justia Law

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After suffering two work-related injuries, Sheree Cleveland settled her workers’ compensation claims with Advance Auto Parts and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, Indemnity Insurance Company of North America. The Workers’ Compensation Commission approved the settlement. Approximately one month later, the Employer/Carrier filed a Form B-31 indicating the last payment had been made. More than a year after that, Cleveland filed a motion asserting that the Employer/Carrier had not paid all compensation due under the settlement and that two medical bills remained outstanding. The Commission found that, because a one-year statute of limitations had expired, it lacked jurisdiction to enforce its order approving the settlement agreement. Cleveland appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, questioning whether the one-year statute of limitations applied to the claim. But instead of answering that question, the Court of Appeals found that the Employer/Carrier had been estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense because it had agreed to pay the outstanding bills and had represented to the administrative law judge that it would do so. Further, the Court of Appeals also found Cleveland's contact with the Employer/Carrier within the limitations period tolled the statute of limitations, if, in fact, it applied. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed, but for different reasons than the appellate court. The Supreme Court determined the statute of limitations did not apply to Cleveland's motion for enforcement of the settlement order, therefore, her motion was timely filed. View "Cleveland v. Advance Auto Parts" on Justia Law

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Alleshouse and Yeh are named as the inventors on the 685 and 189 patents, which claim water-park attractions that individuals may ride as if surfing, and on the 433 patent, which claims nozzle configurations for regulating water flow in such attractions. Pacific, the company Alleshouse and Yeh formed to develop and market such attractions, is the assignee of the patents. Whitewater is the successor of Wave, which employed Alleshouse until just before he went into business with Yeh and the patented inventions were conceived. Whitewater sued Alleshouse, Yeh, and Pacific, claiming that Alleshouse had to assign each of the patents to Whitewater, as Wave’s successor, under the terms of Alleshouse’s employment contract with Wave. Whitewater also claimed that Yeh, who had not been employed by Whitewater or its predecessors and therefore was not under any alleged assignment duty, was improperly listed as an inventor on each of the patents.The district court held that Alleshouse breached the employment agreement, so Whitewater was entitled to an assignment of the patent interests, and Yeh was improperly joined as an inventor. The Federal Circuit reversed, The contract’s assignment provision is void under California law, (Labor Code 2870, 2872; Business and Professions Code 16600), so Whitewater lacks standing to contest inventorship. View "Whitewater West Industries Ltd. v. Alleshouse" on Justia Law

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Fox Lake patrol officer Zander was charged with misconduct arising from multiple job-related incidents. The chief recommended termination. Zander's union, FOP, assigned Attorney Carlson, an FOP employee. Zander had no input into the choice of an attorney, had no retainer agreement with Carlson, and was not charged for Carlson’s services. Under the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/1-1-1), police officers who face removal or discharge are entitled to a hearing before the local board of fire and police commissioners unless a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides for arbitration. The CBA between Fox Lake and FOP gave officers the option of pursuing either avenue. On Carlson’s advice, Zander chose arbitration. The arbitrator upheld the termination. Zander sued, alleging legal malpractice and that FOP has no right to employ attorneys to furnish legal services under its direction to FOP members, and cannot control what attorneys assigned to help FOP members may do and “should be vicariously liable.”The circuit court dismissed, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Atkinson" holding, which immunizes union members and officers against personal liability for actions taken while acting as a union representative in the context of the collective bargaining process. The court noted the parallels between federal labor law and the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. But for the collective bargaining agreement. FOP would have owed Zander no duty. Zander’s claim against the union fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Illinois Labor Relations Board. View "Zander v. Carlson" on Justia Law