Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
In re Uber Technologies Wage and Hour Cases
The People filed suit alleging Uber and Lyft violated the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code 17200 (UCL)) by misclassifying California rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors, depriving them of wages and benefits associated with employee status, thereby harming workers, competitors, and the public. The suit sought injunctive relief, civil penalties, and restitution under the UCL and injunctive relief under Assembly Bill 5, Labor Code 2786. The court of appeal affirmed a preliminary injunction under Assembly Bill 5. Proposition 22 subsequently altered the standards for determining whether app-based drivers are independent contractors. The parties stipulated to dissolve the preliminary injunction. The Labor Commissioner filed separate actions against Uber and Lyft, pursuant to her Labor Code enforcement authority, alleging misclassification of drivers.The two direct enforcement actions were coordinated. Uber and Lyft moved to compel arbitration of those actions to the extent they seek “driver-specific” or “ ‘individualized’ ” relief, such as restitution under the UCL and unpaid wages under the Labor Code. The motions did not seek arbitration of the requests for civil penalties and injunctive relief; they relied on arbitration agreements the defendants entered into with drivers. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motions. The People and the Labor Commissioner are not parties to those arbitration agreements. View "In re Uber Technologies Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law
Virden v. Campbell Delong, LLP, et al.
A Mississippi circuit court granted law firm Campbell DeLong, LLP, a declaratory judgment against a former partner of the firm, Britt Virden, who had alleged breach of contract, among other claims. Virden appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. On certiorari review, the Supreme Court found that Virden’s prewithdrawal claims were not precluded by a signed agreement, which only came into operation in the event of death, termination, withdrawal, or retirement of a partner. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the appellate and circuit court judgments and remanded the case for the circuit court to allow Virden an opportunity to maintain an action against his former firm for breach of an implied contract regarding partner compensation. View "Virden v. Campbell Delong, LLP, et al." on Justia Law
Granite School District v. Young
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Robyn Young's motion to dismiss this action brought by Granite School District regarding settlement proceeds Young had received for industrial injuries, holding that the Labor Commission had exclusive jurisdiction over the factual questions at the heart of this reimbursement dispute.Young, a special education teacher, sought workers' compensation for injuries she received at the hands of her students. An administrative law judge awarded Young benefits, finding that Young was permanently and totally disabled and that Young did not have to reimburse Granite with funds she received from a legal settlement she had obtained against medical debt collectors for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Granite then initiated suit for reimbursement from Young under the Utah Workers' Compensation Act. The district court granted Young's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it dismissed Granite's complaint because the Workers' Compensation Act assigned the Commission exclusive jurisdiction over this dispute. View "Granite School District v. Young" on Justia Law
Tennco Energy, Inc. v. Lane
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board determining that Richard Lane's notice to his former employer, Tennco Energy, Inc., that he was asserting a subsequent claim against it was timely, holding that there was no error.In 2019, Lane filed a coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) claim against Tennco Energy, Inc. An administrative law judge dismissed the claim after determining that Lane had failed to give timely notice of the claim pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 341.316(2). The Board reversed, concluding that a prior CWP claim that Lane had previously settled against a former employer had no bearing on Lane's duty to notice Tennco when he asserted a subsequent claim against it. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that remand was required for additional findings of fact under this opinion. View "Tennco Energy, Inc. v. Lane" on Justia Law
Rodarte v. Bluelinx Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the ruling of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the denial of Francisco Rodarte's motion to reopen and reversing the ruling that Rodarte's shoulder claim was barred due to failure to join, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Rodarte sustained two work-related injuries while working for BlueLinx Corporation - a knee and ankle injury in 2016 and a shoulder injury in 2018. In Rodarte and BlueLinx ultimately entered into a settlement agreement for Rodarte's knee and ankle injuries. BlueLinx denied Rodarte's shoulder claim, however, concluding it was barred pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.270 due to Rodarte's failure to join it to the 2016 claim. Rodarte moved to reopen the 2016 claim, which the chief administrative law judge denied. Thereafter, an administrative law judge dismissed the shoulder claim. The Board affirmed the denial of the motion to reopen and reversed the dismissal of the shoulder claim. The court of appeals affirmed the Board's ruling on the motion to reopen but reversed its determination that Rodarte's shoulder claim was not barred for failure to join. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err in its rulings. View "Rodarte v. Bluelinx Corp." on Justia Law
Fleming v. Bayou Steel
BD LaPlace, LLC, doing business as Bayou Steel (Bayou Steel), operated a steel mill in LaPlace, Louisiana. Without giving The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice, Bayou Steel terminated Plaintiffs’ employment and closed the LaPlace mill where they worked. Seeking to recover under the WARN Act, Plaintiffs initially filed a putative class action complaint against Bayou Steel in Delaware bankruptcy court. Plaintiffs dismissed that action and filed the instant class action in federal district court. Rather than suing their employer Bayou Steel, Plaintiffs sued Bayou Steel BD Holdings II, LLC and Black Diamond Capital Management, LLC(a private equity firm that advised the fund that owned BD Holdings II). Plaintiffs demanded a jury trial, which the district court denied. Defendants sought summary judgment, which the district court granted. Plaintiffs appealed, challenging both the denial of their jury demand and the summary judgment for Defendants. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that there is no right to a jury trial under the WARN Act. The court also affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to BD Holdings II. But the district court erred in granting summary judgment to BDCM because there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether BDCM exercised de facto control over Bayou Steel’s decision to close its LaPlace steel mill and order Plaintiffs’ layoffs. The court explained that if BDCM “specifically directed” the closing of the mill without proper notice, the company may be liable for Bayou Steel’s WARN Act violation even absent the other factors. View "Fleming v. Bayou Steel" on Justia Law
PG Publishing Co Inc v. National Labor Relations Board
The Post-Gazette began moving to an all-digital format, which led to the termination of two paperhandlers represented by the Union. The layoffs took place during negotiations for a successor to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which, by its terms, had ended on March 31, 2017; 24 Post-Gazette employees were covered by a provision of the expired CBA that had guaranteed those employees five shifts per week “for the balance of the Agreement, ending March 31, 2017[.]” The Union filed a charge of unfair labor practices.The parties cited Supreme Court precedent interpreting the National Labor Relations Act and holding that an employer commits an unfair labor practice if, after the expiration of a CBA, the employer alters the post-expiration status quo during negotiations for a successor CBA without first negotiating with its employees to an overall impasse and that employers are privileged to make non-bargainable entrepreneurial decisions about the scope and direction of their business without bargaining with the union--the employer need only bargain about the “effects” of the decision once made. The Third Circuit remanded. The court applied “ordinary contract principles” to the expired CBA and held that the five-shift guarantee did not become part of the post-expiration status quo. That provision makes plain the guarantee was to end when the CBA expired. Under its own theory of the case, the Post-Gazette was still precluded from implementing the layoffs unless it engaged in adequate effects bargaining. View "PG Publishing Co Inc v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law
Bird v. Pruett’s Food, Inc.
Plaintiff Steven Bird, an independent contractor hired to install a new checkout lane at Defendant Pruett's Food store, was injured after falling off a ladder Defendant had supplied to aid Plaintiff in completing the work. Plaintiff initiated a negligence action, seeking damages from his injuries and lost wages. Plaintiff presented his case at trial, after which Defendant demurred to Plaintiff's evidence. The trial court sustained the demurrer. Plaintiff appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant owed him a duty of care. View "Bird v. Pruett's Food, Inc." on Justia Law
Chris Ronnie v. U.S. Department of Labor
Petitioner was employed at Office Depot as a senior financial analyst. He was responsible for, among other things, ensuring data integrity. One of Ronnie’s principal duties was to calculate and report a metric called “Sales Lift.” Sales Lift is a metric designed to quantify the cost-reduction benefit of closing redundant retail stores. Petitioner identified two potential accounting errors that he believed signaled securities fraud related to the Sales Lift. Petitioner alleged that after he reported the issue, his relationship with his boss became strained. Eventually, Petitioner was terminated at that meeting for failing to perform the task of identifying the cause of the data discrepancy. Petitioner filed complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and OSHA dismissed his complaint. Petitioner petitioned for review of the ARB’s decision. The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition. The court explained that Petitioner failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that a reasonable person with his training and experience would believe this conduct constituted a SOX violation, the ARB’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. The court wrote that Petitioner’s assertions that Office Depot intentionally manipulated sales data and that his assigned task of investigating the discrepancy was a stalling tactic are mere speculation, which alone is not enough to create a genuine issue of fact as to the objective reasonableness of Petitioner’s belief. View "Chris Ronnie v. U.S. Department of Labor" on Justia Law
In re Edwards v. New Century Hospice
At issue before the Colorado Supreme Court in this matter was a trial court’s order denying immunity to Defendant New Century Hospice, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Defendants Legacy Hospice, LLC, d/b/a New Century Hospice of Denver, LLC, and Legacy Hospice of Colorado Springs, LLC (collectively, “New Century”). New Century argued it was entitled to immunity under four different statutes. Tana Edwards filed suit against New Century (her former employer) and Kathleen Johnson, the Director of Operations for New Century Castle Rock (collectively, “Defendants”). As part of her employment with New Century, Edwards provided in-home care to an elderly patient. In December 2019, Johnson began to suspect that Edwards was diverting pain medications from the patient. Defendants reported the suspected drug diversion to the Castle Rock Police Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”). Defendants also lodged a complaint against Edwards’s nursing license with the Colorado Board of Nursing (“the Board”). After investigations, no criminal charges were filed and no formal disciplinary actions were taken against Edwards. Edwards subsequently brought this action against Defendants, alleging claims for negligent supervision and negligent hiring against New Century, as well as claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against New Century and Johnson. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion as to Edwards’s claims for negligent hiring, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, finding that the claims were either time-barred or could not be proven. Three of the statutes New Century cited for its immunity claim, 12-20-402(1), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Professions Act”), 12-255-123(2), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Nurse Practice Act”), and 18-6.5-108(3), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Mandatory Reporter statute”), only authorized immunity for a “person.” Relying on the plain meaning of “person,” the Supreme Court held that New Century was not entitled to immunity under these three statutes because it was a corporation, not a person. The fourth statute, 18-8-115, C.R.S. (2022) (“the Duty to Report statute”), explicitly entitled corporations to immunity, but only if certain conditions were met. Applying the plain language of the statute, the Supreme Court held that New Century was not entitled to summary judgment on the issue of immunity under this statute because it did not carry its burden of demonstrating that all such conditions were met. View "In re Edwards v. New Century Hospice" on Justia Law