Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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In a case before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Ursinus College utilized financing from the Montgomery County Health and Higher Education Authority (Authority) to undertake a construction project. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local No. 98 (IBEW) asserted that this project was a public work under the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act (PWA), which would require workers on the project to receive prevailing minimum wages. The court was tasked with determining whether this project constituted a public work under the PWA. The court found that the project was not a public work as defined in the PWA, as the funds for the project did not come from a public body. Rather, the Authority served as a conduit for financing, with private funds generated from the Authority's ability to issue bonds being used to pay for the project. The Authority did not hold or disburse these funds, nor did it bear any risk or liability with respect to the repayment of the bonds. Therefore, the court held that the project was not subject to the PWA's prevailing wage requirements. View "Ursinus College v. Prevailing Wage Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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In a dispute between Valley Hospital Medical Center and the National Labor Relations Board, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Hospital's petition for review, granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement, and enforced the Board's order. The court previously remanded the case to the Board to better explain its decision that an employer may unilaterally cease union dues checkoff after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. Upon remand, the Board reversed its prior decision, readopting its rule prohibiting employers from unilaterally ceasing dues checkoff after expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, and found that Valley Hospital engaged in an unfair labor practice. Valley Hospital contended that the Board exceeded its mandate from the court, which only authorized supplementing its reasoning, not changing its interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act. However, the Ninth Circuit held that its earlier mandate did not explicitly prohibit the Board from reconsidering its rule, so the Board was not bound by its prior decision. The court also found that the Board's new decision was rational and consistent with the Act. Thus, the Board's order was enforced. View "NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD V. VALLEY HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER, INC." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that employers cannot unilaterally stop deducting union dues from employee paychecks after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. The case involved Valley Hospital Medical Center and Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center (collectively known as the "Hospitals") and the Service Employees International Union, Local 1107 ("the Union”). The Union and the Hospitals had entered into collective bargaining agreements that included checkoff provisions requiring the Hospitals to deduct union dues from participating employees’ paychecks and to remit those dues to the Union. After the agreements expired, the Hospitals ceased dues checkoff, arguing that the written assignments authorizing this did not include express language concerning revocability upon expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. They believed this omission violated the Labor Management Relations Act, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act. The Union filed unfair labor practice charges, and the National Labor Relations Board determined that the Hospitals had committed an unfair labor practice by unilaterally ceasing dues checkoff. The court held that the Taft-Hartley Act did not require specific language in the written assignments, so the Hospitals could not rely on that statute to justify their unilateral action. Consequently, the court granted the Board’s application for enforcement, denied the Hospitals' petition for review, and enforced the Board’s order in full. View "NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD V. VALLEY HEALTH SYSTEM, LLC DBA DESERT SPRINGS HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENT" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, Srecko Bazdaric, was injured while painting an escalator during a renovation project. The escalator was covered with a plastic sheet, which Bazdaric slipped on, sustaining injuries that left him unable to work. He and his wife sued the owners of the premises and the general contractor, alleging violations of Labor Law § 241 (6), which requires employers to provide safe working conditions. The Court of Appeals of New York held that the plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment as to liability on their Labor Law § 241 (6) claim. The court found that the plastic covering was a slipping hazard that the defendants failed to remove, in violation of Industrial Code 12 NYCRR 23-1.7 (d), making the defendants liable under Labor Law § 241 (6). The court also found that the plastic covering was not integral to the paint job but was a nonessential and inherently slippery plastic that caused Bazdaric's injuries. The court reversed the lower court's conclusion to the contrary. View "Bazdaric v Almah Partners LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case, Plaintiff Jennifer Akridge, a former employee of Alfa Mutual Insurance Company, appealed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Alfa on her claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Akridge had multiple sclerosis and severe migraines, and she alleged that the company wrongfully terminated her to avoid paying for her healthcare costs. Alfa argued that it eliminated her position because her duties were automated and no longer needed, and the company wanted to cut business expenses.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment ruling. The court found that Akridge failed to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the ADA. Even if she had, her evidence failed to show that Alfa’s reason for firing her (that her position was no longer needed and it wished to cut business expenses) was pretext for disability discrimination. The court also rejected Akridge's argument that she merely needs to show that her disability was a motivating factor, rather than a but-for cause, of her termination. The court clarified that, unlike Title VII, the ADA does not incorporate the motivating-factor causation standard, and an ADA plaintiff must show that a cause was outcome determinative. Therefore, it upheld the district court’s decision that Akridge did not produce sufficient evidence to suggest that her termination was a result of discrimination based on her disability.The court also affirmed the district court's award of $1,918 in discovery sanctions against Akridge. The lower court found that Akridge's motion to compel a certain deposition was not substantially justified, and the appeals court found no error or abuse of discretion in that ruling. View "Akridge v. Alfa Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The case involves plaintiff Angelo Riccitelli and defendant Town of North Providence, through its Finance Director, Maria Vallee. Riccitelli, a retired firefighter, filed a complaint against the town, alleging that it failed to pay him the full amount required by a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement required the town to provide Riccitelli with a "supplemental pension payment" equal to the difference between his pension and the "monthly net pay" that he received at retirement, less any pension deductions. The dispute centered around the interpretation of the term "monthly net pay."The Supreme Court of Rhode Island found that the Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Riccitelli because the collective bargaining agreement was not in the record. The court emphasized that the entire contract must be reviewed to determine whether a provision is clear and unambiguous. Without the agreement in the record, Riccitelli failed to carry his initial burden as the party moving for summary judgment, leaving open a critical question of fact—the content of the collective bargaining agreement. The court vacated the judgment of the Superior Court and returned the record to the Superior Court for further proceedings. View "Riccitelli v. The Town of North Providence" on Justia Law

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The case involves American Medical Response of Connecticut (AMR), a company that operates ambulances and employs emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (Union). The Union and AMR had a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect from 2019 through 2021. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AMR invoked an emergency provision in the agreement and cut shifts due to reduced demand. The Union raised concerns about AMR's actions and requested specific information from AMR to investigate potential grievances. AMR refused to provide some of the requested information, arguing that the emergency provision in the agreement excused it from providing the information during the pandemic. The Union filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that AMR's refusal to provide the information violated the duty to bargain under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRB sided with the Union, and AMR sought review of this decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed with the NLRB's decision. The court held that the NLRB was required to determine whether the collective bargaining agreement relieved AMR of the duty to provide the requested information. The court explained that the NLRA requires the enforcement of collective bargaining agreements, including those provisions that limit a union's information rights. The court expressed that the NLRB had put the cart before the horse by concluding that AMR failed to provide information before determining whether AMR had a contractual duty to provide such information. As a result, the court granted AMR’s petition for review, denied the NLRB's cross-application for enforcement, vacated the NLRB's order, and remanded the case back to the NLRB for it to consider whether the collective bargaining agreement excused AMR from providing the requested information. View "American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which dismissed a False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation lawsuit brought by former employee Dana Johnson against his former employer, Raytheon Co.Johnson alleged that Raytheon retaliated against him for reporting fraudulent misrepresentations that the company made to the US Navy. However, the Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court correctly held that it lacked jurisdiction to review Johnson’s claims implicating the merits of the decision to revoke his security clearance, based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Department of the Navy v. Egan. The court also affirmed that Johnson failed to present a prima facie case of retaliation for the remaining claim, which involved Johnson being instructed not to report problems to the Navy. The court found that such instructions by Raytheon would not have dissuaded a reasonable worker from reporting to the Navy and therefore did not constitute retaliation.The case centered around Johnson's work for Raytheon, a government defense contractor, on a Navy project which required top-secret security clearance. Johnson claimed that after he reported concerns to managers and supervisors about Raytheon making fraudulent misrepresentation to the Navy, Raytheon began to monitor him, made false accusations about him to the Navy, and ultimately fired him. The Navy found that Johnson had committed security violations, and his security clearance was revoked. Raytheon subsequently terminated Johnson's employment. Johnson filed a lawsuit claiming retaliation, which the District Court dismissed and the Court of Appeals affirmed. View "Johnson v. Raytheon" on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was faced with the claims of Cameron Cooper, an employee with Tourette Syndrome, who sued his former employer, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc. (CCCI), under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Cooper's Tourette Syndrome caused him to involuntarily utter racist and profane words. He alleged that CCCI failed to provide him with reasonable accommodations and constructively discharged him by forcing him into an undesirable position.Cooper had been working as a delivery merchandiser for CCCI, a role which required excellent customer service. However, his condition led to complaints from customers due to his use of offensive language. CCCI attempted various accommodations, including having Cooper work alongside another employee and ultimately transferring him to a warehouse position with no customer contact. Cooper claimed that CCCI could have accommodated him by assigning him to a non-customer-facing delivery route.The court held that providing excellent customer service was an essential function of Cooper's job and, given his condition, he could not perform this function without an accommodation. The court further held that Cooper's proposed accommodation (assigning him to a non-customer-facing delivery route) was not objectively reasonable because the suggested delivery route did involve customer contact and there were no other non-customer-facing routes available at the time. Additionally, the court found that the warehouse position offered by CCCI was a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.As to the constructive discharge claim, the court held that Cooper failed to show that CCCI deliberately created intolerable working conditions with the intention of forcing him to quit. The court concluded that CCCI provided Cooper with reasonable accommodations each time he requested, thus, there was no evidence to support a constructive discharge claim.The court affirmed the lower court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of CCCI. View "Cooper v. Dolgencorp, LLC" on Justia Law

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the plaintiff, Taquila Monroe, was a former employee of Fort Valley State University's Head Start and Early Head Start department. She sued the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (the "Board") under the False Claims Act's (FCA) anti-retaliation provision, alleging that she was terminated for reporting mismanagement and misuse of federal and state funds meant for the Head Start programs. The district court granted the Board's motion to dismiss, citing the Board's sovereign immunity. The central issue on appeal was whether the FCA's anti-retaliation provision abrogates sovereign immunity for lawsuits against states, and whether the Board is an arm of the state entitled to the same immunity.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court concluded that Congress did not unequivocally express its intent to subject states to suits under the FCA's anti-retaliation provision, and therefore did not abrogate sovereign immunity. The court also held that the Board is an arm of the state and thus entitled to sovereign immunity. In reaching these conclusions, the court considered how Georgia law defines the Board, the degree of control the state exercises over the Board, the Board's source of funding, and who would be responsible for a judgment against the Board. The court found that all of these factors pointed to the Board being an arm of the state that is entitled to sovereign immunity. View "Monroe v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia" on Justia Law