Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging a sex discrimination claim for a failure to promote against the County of Wright and the Wright County Sheriff's Department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the County, holding that plaintiff failed to present evidence that one of the reasons for the chief deputy's actions in not promoting plaintiff was gender animus; plaintiff failed to argue that the interview notes show that the other panelists' negative impressions of her were pretextual, or that the chief deputy was somehow responsible for their negative impressions; and plaintiff failed to point to any evidence of gender animus from the other panelists. The court also held that the district court did not err by concluding that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to her cat's-paw theory. View "Pribyl v. County of Wright" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Unemployment Insurance Commission denying Jesse Gerber unemployment benefits, holding that the Commission correctly determined that Gerber was not eligible for employment benefits. The Commission determined that Gerber had left work voluntarily without good cause and did not qualify for the "returning to approved training" exception in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-3-311(a)(i)(B). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Gerber did not meet the conditions of the statutory exception, and therefore, the Commission's decision denying Gerber unemployment benefits conformed with the law. View "Gerber v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

by
After plaintiff was injured while performing work in the Adult Offender Work Program (AOWP), he filed suit against the county for its failure to accommodate his preexisting physical disability and failure to engage in the interactive process under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the county. The court held that an individual sentenced to perform work activities in lieu of incarceration in the absence of any financial remuneration, is precluded, as a matter of law, from being an "employee" within the meaning of the FEHA. The court explained that, while remuneration alone is not a sufficient condition to establish an individual is an employee under the statute, it is an essential one. Because plaintiff earned no sufficient financial remuneration as a result of participation in the AOWP, he could not be deemed an employee under the FEHA. The court did not reach plaintiff's remaining arguments. View "Talley v. County of Fresno" on Justia Law

by
Saw worked for Avago’s Malaysian subsidiary and could acquire ordinary shares and stock options of Avago stock under a management shareholders' agreement governed by the laws of Singapore. The agreement allowed Avago to repurchase shares and options at fair market value should an employee be terminated “for any reason whatsoever” within five years from the date of purchase. After Saw’s position was eliminated in 2009, Avago repurchased his equitable interest. Saw sued Avago’s subsidiary for wrongful termination and obtained a favorable judgment in Malaysia. Saw separately sued Avago in San Mateo County, asserting that Avago breached the shareholders' agreement by relying on an unlawful termination to repurchase his shares. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of Avago. Saw is not entitled to any relief under Singapore law. The shareholders' agreement's choice of law provision requires the application of the substantive law of Singapore. Whether his termination was lawful or unlawful under Malaysian law has no bearing on Avago’s contractual right to repurchase shares acquired by a former employee. Saw’s breach of contract claim fails as a matter of law under the express terms of the shareholders' agreement. Saw has no viable cause of action under an implied duty of good faith. View "Saw v. Avago Technologies, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that a one-time payout for accrued sick leave does not form part of an employee's compensation for purposes of calculating that employee's pension benefit. The City of Phoenix paid pension benefits to eligible retiring employees, and the amount of that benefit partly depended on the employee's highest average annual compensation paid over a multi-year period. The City also paid employees for unused accrued sick leave upon retirement. Petitioners brought this action alleging that the City violated their constitutional rights by not considering accrued sick leave payouts upon retirement as pensionable compensation. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Petitioners, ruling that Petitioners had common law and constitutional rights to have one-time payouts for accrued sick leave included in the calculation of the employee's average compensation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that one-time payouts for accrued sick leave upon retirement are not salary or wages because they are not paid annually or at regular intervals. View "Piccioli v. City of Pheonix" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that a one-time payout for unused vacation leave does not form part of an employee's compensation for purposes of calculating that employee's pension benefit. The City of Phoenix paid pension benefits to eligible retiring employees. The amount of that benefit partly depended on the employee's highest average annual compensation paid over a multi-year period, and the City also paid for unused accrued vacation leave upon retirement or separation from employment. Petitioners sued the City alleging that the City violated their constitutional rights by not using one-time accrued vacation leave payouts in calculating employees' final average compensation. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that one-time payouts for accrued vacation leave are not pensionable salary or wages. View "American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees AFL-CIO Local 2384 v. City of Phoenix" on Justia Law

by
Allison Leigh broke her ankle when she slipped and fell in her employer’s icy parking lot. Following surgery she had a complicated recovery. Her employer began to controvert benefits related to the ankle about nine months after the injury. Three years after the injury, her employer requested that she sign a release allowing it to access all of her mental health records for the preceding 19 years because of her pain complaints. Leigh asked for a protective order from the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board. The Board’s designee granted the protective order, and the employer appealed that decision to the Board. A Board panel reversed the designee’s decision. Leigh petitioned the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission for review, but the Commission declined. The Alaska granted Leigh's petition for review and found that the statute permitted an employer to access the mental health records of employees when it was relevant to the claim, even if the employee did not make a claim related to a mental health condition. This matter was remanded back to the Board for further proceedings to consider reasonable limits on the release at issue here. View "Leigh v. Alaska Children's Services" on Justia Law

by
Office worker Sallyanne Butts (f/k/a Decastro) fell from her chair onto her hands and left knee. She initially suffered left knee symptoms and later developed right knee problems and lower back pain that she alleged arose from the fall. She argued the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board erred when it performed its presumption analysis and when it awarded compensation for her left knee and back for only a limited period of time following the accident. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded: the Board appropriately considered the knee injuries and the back injury as distinct injuries and applied the presumption analysis accordingly; that the Board properly relied on the conflicting medical evidence to make its own legal decision about which of Butts’s conditions were compensable; and that the Board was not required to award compensation for knee replacement surgeries performed five years after the accident. The Court therefore affirmed the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission’s decision affirming the Board. View "Butts v. Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development" on Justia Law

by
This appeal stemmed from a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) dispute between the parties where an arbitrator resolved the dispute in favor of the union. The Eighth Circuit held that because the arbitrator was arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority, there is no basis for vacating the arbitrator's finding that Exide violated the CBA. The court also held that the district court correctly determined that it did not have jurisdiction over Exide's claim that the arbitrator's decision that unilaterally changing Family Medical Leave Act leave administrators was a material, substantial and significant change in the employees' terms and conditions of employment in violation of Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act. Rather, Congress has empowered the NLRB to resolve unfair-labor-practice claims in the first instance. Furthermore, the cases cited by the parties do not expand the court's original jurisdiction. View "Exide Technologies v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the Commission's determination that Sanderson violated various regulations of the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The court held that the ALJ's determination that the compressor cutouts and the emergency stops are subject to the mechanical integrity program was not an abuse of discretion or otherwise contrary to law; the ALJ's determination that Sanderson failed to rebut the presumption of exposure to a hazard was not an abuse of discretion or otherwise contrary to law; and the Secretary bore his burden with respect to all elements of a violation regarding Items 5a and 5b. View "Sanderson Farms, Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission" on Justia Law