Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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After the EEOC brought an enforcement action against Vantage on behalf of an employee, Vantage moved to dismiss based on the EEOC's failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In a one-sentence judgment, the district court agreed and dismissed. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the EEOC intake questionnaire was sufficient as a charge and, although verified outside of the filing period, was "timely" by virtue of the relation-back regulation. The court noted that the dilatory response of the employee's counsel to the EEOC's months-long requests to file his client's verified charge was inexcusable, and counsel should never ignore applicable Americans with Disabilities law and regulations. Furthermore, the Supreme Court's decision in Edelman v. Lynchburg College, 535 U.S. 106, 113, 118, 122 S. Ct. 1145, 1149, 1152 (2002), and Fed. Express Corp. v. Holowecki, 552 U.S. 389, 402, 128 S. Ct. 1147, 1158 (2008), were designed to accomplish fair and efficient resolution of discrimination complaints filed more often than not by pro se individuals. View "EEOC v. Vantage Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs, property tax consultant employees, holding that plaintiffs were not exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because the firm pointed to no job responsibility carried out by a property tax consultant that related in any way to the management or general business operations of the company or its customers. The court also held that the fluctuating-workweek method did not apply in this case, because the preponderance of the evidence supports the conclusion that there was no mutual agreement between plaintiffs and the firm that plaintiffs would be paid a fixed weekly salary regardless of the number of hours worked. View "Fraser v. Patrick O'Connor & Assoc." on Justia Law

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Beginning in 1965, Honeywell and the labor union negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). Honeywell agreed to pay “the full [healthcare benefit] premium or subscription charge applicable to the coverages of [its] pensioner[s]” and their surviving spouses. Each CBA contained a general durational clause stating that the agreement would expire on a specified date, after which the parties would negotiate a new CBA. In 2003, the parties negotiated a CBA obligating Honeywell to pay “not . . . less than” a specified amount beginning in 2008. The retirees filed suit, arguing that the pre-2003 CBAs vested lifetime, full-premium benefits for all pre-2003 retirees and that the CBAs of 2003, 2007, and 2011 vested, at a minimum, lifetime, floor-level benefits for the remaining retirees. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the district court that none of the CBAs vested lifetime benefits. Without an unambiguous vesting clause, the general durational clause controls. Reversing in part, the court held that the “not . . . less than” language unambiguously limited Honeywell’s obligation to pay only the floor-level contributions during the life of the 2011 CBA. The court rejected a claim that Honeywell acquired a "windfall" at the retirees' expense. View "International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America v. Honeywell International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, disability discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and breach of fiduciary duty. The court held that plaintiff's discrimination claim failed because Mid Dakota offered a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions: his inability to get along with others; plaintiff's Title VII retaliation claims failed because he failed to show he was retaliated against for reporting racial slurs and racially charged comments; plaintiff's False Claims Act retaliation claim failed because there was no evidence, direct or otherwise, that his decision to report the allegedly fraudulent billing practices of a colleague caused—much less solely caused—Mid Dakota to force him out; and plaintiff's claim under the North Dakota Business Corporation Act failed because he was an at-will employee. View "Bharadwaj v. Mid Dakota Clinic" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that plaintiff failed to allege a claim that a state prosecutor retaliated against him for seeking unpaid overtime compensation. The court held that plaintiff waived his First Amendment retaliation claim by failing to brief the issue; because plaintiff is not an employee under section 215(a)(3) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the district court did not err in dismissing his claim; because plaintiff failed to point to any alteration or extinguishment of a right or legal status on appeal, he failed to state a due process claim; and because plaintiff failed to allege a conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. 1985(2), his sections 1985(3) and 1986 claims also failed. Finally, the court held that there was no error in dismissing plaintiff's state law claims and in denying him leave to file a third amended complaint. View "Liscomb v. Boyce" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for overtime pay under the New York Labor Law's (NYLL) overtime-pay provision. The court held that, although the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were ineligible for overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular wage, the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs were ineligible for any overtime pay under the NYLL. The court explained that a plain reading of the NYLL's overtime-pay provision demonstrates that employees subject to certain exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Motor Carrier Exemption, must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's age discrimination suit against OneMain. The court held that the district court correctly rejected plaintiff's meeting of the minds argument on the merits based on Mississippi law. In this case, the district court found that the electronic communications transmitting the Arbitration Agreement clearly identified an arbitration agreement as the subject of the communications, and that plaintiff was given the opportunity to reach the Agreement and certified that she had done so. Furthermore, the district court correctly held that plaintiff's procedural unconscionability challenge was a challenge to the the Agreement's enforceability and therefore must be decided by an arbitrator rather than the courts. View "Bowles v. OneMain Financial Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dr. Sandra Leal appealed a circuit court's grant of summary judgment to the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). Leal brought suit against USM and the IHL for breach of contract and disability discrimination. Dr. Sandra Leal was a junior faculty member at USM. After spending several years at USM, Leal applied for tenure and promotion in 2012, but, at the recommendation of faculty members, she deferred her application for one year. In September of 2013, she resubmitted her application and materials. On October 4, 2013, her department voted not to recommend her application. Leal was notified of this on October 7, 2013. Each review of her application cited an insufficient number of publications as the primary reason for not recommending Leal’s application. Following these reviews, in March of 2014, Leal wrote to USM’s then-provost. Leal had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis throughout her time at USM, but, for the first time, she claimed it as a disability. She requested an additional year to remedy her insufficient number of publications. Both the provost and USM’s president recommended that Leal’s application be denied. Leal was notified of these determinations on March 24, 2014, and April 30, 2014, respectively. Leal sought review of her application by the IHL, and the IHL considered her request and ultimately rejected her application too. Because Leal has failed to demonstrate any genuine issue of material fact and failed to demonstrate that USM and the IHL were not entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment. View "Leal v. University of So. Miss." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Worldplay on plaintiff's claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court held that the district court erroneously applied the court's decision in Gowski v. Peake, 682 F.3d 1299, 1312 (11th Cir. 2012), and required plaintiff to show that the alleged retaliation was sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment. However, the proper standard in a retaliation case is the one set out by the Supreme Court in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 57 (2006), where the retaliation is material if it well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. In this case, the court held that a jury must decide plaintiff's retaliation claim and thus remanded for a jury trial. View "Monaghan v. Worldpay US, Inc." on Justia Law

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EF appealed from the trial court's judgment awarding vacation wages to three of EF's former exempt employees. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that Labor Code section 227.3 applies to EF's purported "unlimited" paid time off policy based on the particular facts of this case. In this case, EF never told its employees that they had unlimited paid vacation; EF had no written policy or agreement to that effect, nor did its employee handbook cover these plaintiffs; and plaintiffs took less vacation than many of EF's other managers and exempt employees covered by the handbook, whose accrued vacation vested as they worked for EF month after month. View "McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law