Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of a writ of mandate to compel the Civil Service Commission to complete a deputy sheriff's administrative appeal. The court held that a deputy sheriff who has obtained and continues to receive service-connected disability retirement benefits is no longer an employee of the county, and thus his appeal to the Civil Service Commission of his discharge by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, filed before his disability retirement, is no longer viable. The court held that the Commission has no authority to order reinstatement or any other relief to a retired person whose future status as an employee is not at issue. View "Deiro v. L.A. County Civil Service Commission" on Justia Law

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Olson is a driver for Lyft, whose terms of service include an agreement he could not bring a Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), Labor Code 2698, claim in court, and that disputes with Lyft must be resolved by individual arbitration. Olson sued Lyft alleging six PAGA claims. Lyft petitioned to compel to arbitration. The petition acknowledged that a 2014 precedent (Iskanian) precluded enforcement of PAGA waivers, but asserted that Iskanian was wrongly decided and was no longer good law in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Epic Systems. The trial court rejected Lyft’s arguments.The court of appeal affirmed. Epic Systems addressed the question of whether the NLRA renders unenforceable arbitration agreements containing class action waivers that interfere with workers’ right to engage in “concerted activities.” It did not address private attorney general laws like PAGA or qui tam suit. View "Olson v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting class certification of Plaintiffs' complaint, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class.Plaintiffs were hourly employees of Koppers, Inc. Plaintiffs filed this action against Koppers alleging that Koppers did not pay them for working overtime in violation of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-211(a). Plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class. The circuit court granted the motion. Koppers appealed, arguing that its liability could not be established on a classwide basis because whether a plaintiff could recover depended on individualized facts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's findings on commonality, predominance, and superiority were not in error. View "Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter" on Justia Law

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Four female employees, including plaintiff, filed suit alleging hostile work environment claims. The jury awarded plaintiff a total of $400,000 on her claims against defendants under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The County then filed motions for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) and 59(b). The district court then sua sponte denied the motions based on the restrictions established by Rule 6(b)(2) on extending time for filing such motions. The Second Circuit vacated the denial order and remanded. On remand, the district court found that plaintiff "constructively waived" her objection to the timeliness of the County's motions and entered orders reducing plaintiff's Title VII award to $75,000 and overturning the jury verdict in her favor on her section 1983 claim for want of evidence of an unlawful municipal custom or practice under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Both plaintiff and the County appealed.The Second Circuit held that plaintiff forfeited her right to object to the untimeliness of the County's post-trial motions by failing to raise the issue contemporaneously with the district court's grant of the extension. The court further rejected the County's position that plaintiff's acceptance of remittitur on her Title VII claims forecloses her appeal of the judgment insofar as it relates to her section 1983 claim. On the merits, the court affirmed the judgment in plaintiff's favor on her Title VII claim and rejected the County's cross-appeal seeking judgment in its favor on that claim as a matter of law. In regard to the section 1983 claim, the court concluded that the district court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for the County, because the jury had a reasonable basis for its finding of sufficient municipal involvement to support its award to plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Legg v. Ulster County" on Justia Law

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Finch began his employment with Midwest in 2014. His employment agreement stated: “This Agreement shall be construed in accordance with Ohio Law" and that any litigation "must be venued in Franklin County, Ohio.” In 2016, Midwest promoted Finch. The exhibits to the 2014 employment agreement were revised. In 2017 and 2018, Midwest provided Finch with Compensation and Annual Plan letters, revising Finch’s compensation. In 2019, Finch filed this lawsuit in Contra Costa County, alleging violations of the Labor Code for failure to pay his final wages on time and failure to reimburse him for business expenses; violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200; and a cause of action under the Private Attorneys General Act.The court concluded that the 2017 and 2018 Compensation letters modified the 2014 employment agreement. Because these modifications occurred after January 1, 2017, the court concluded they triggered Finch’s Labor Code section 925 right. Section 925 renders a forum selection clause in an employment contract voidable by an employee if the contract containing the clause was “entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017.” The court of appeal denied Midwest’s writ petition. Section 925 is triggered by any modification to a contract occurring on or after January 1, 2017. View "Midwest Motor Supply Co. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of this complaint alleging that Puerto Rico's series of laws that affect the relationship between public employees in the Commonwealth and their employers impermissibly interfere with their collective bargaining rights, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.To address Puerto Rico's fiscal criss, the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly passed the four laws challenged in this case affecting the rights and benefits of public sector workers. Two Puerto Rico unions brought this action alleging that these measures violated the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution and the Collective Bargaining Clause of the Puerto Rico Constitution. The district court dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. View "Hermandad de Empleados v. Financial Oversight & Management Board" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, wastewater collection workers employed by the city to clean its sewers, filed suit alleging that they worked in the transportation industry and the city denied them meal and rest breaks mandated by Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 9. Wage Order No. 9 obligates the City of Los Angeles to provide meal and rest breaks to persons it employs in the transportation industry.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the city. The court held that, for purposes of Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders, a sanitation worker does not become part of the transportation industry simply because the waste collected must be transported to collection sites. Therefore, Wage Order No. 9 does not apply in this case. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend. View "Miles v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents (department) concluding that marijuana's status as a federally illicit substance preempted any state level authority to order a workers' compensation insurer to pay for Daniel Wright's medical marijuana expenses, holding that the workers' compensation insurer in this case could not be required to pay for medical marijuana expenses.Wright sought compensation for $24,267 of medical marijuana expenses to treat chronic pain stemming from two work-related injuries. An administrative judge denied his claim, and the reviewing board affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the reimbursement limitation provision contained within the Commonwealth's medical marijuana act, St. 2012, c. 369, 7, prevents a health insurance provider or government agency from being ordered to reimburse a claimant for medical marijuana expenses. View "Daniel Wright's Case" on Justia Law

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After a boiler exploded at a refinery, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the refinery’s owner, Wynnewood Refining Co., LLC, for violating 29 C.F.R. section 1910.119, which set forth requirements for the management of highly hazardous chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (the Commission) upheld the violations, noting that the refinery had previously violated section 1910.119, but the prior violations occurred before Wynnewood LLC owned the refinery, and therefore occurred under a different employer. Accordingly, the Commission did not classify the violations as “repeat[] violations” under 29 U.S.C. 666(a), which permitted increased penalties for “employer[s] who willfully or repeatedly violate[]” the regulation. Wynnewood appealed the Commission’s order, arguing that section 1910.119 did not apply to the boiler that exploded. The Tenth Circuit found section 1910.119’s plain text unambiguously applied to the boiler, and affirmed that portion of the Commission’s order upholding the violations. The U.S. Secretary of Labor also appealed the Commission's order, arguing the Commission erred by failing to characterize the violations as repeat violations. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed Wynnewood was not the same employer as the refinery's previous owner, thus affirming that portion of the Commission's order relating to the repeat violations. View "Scalia v. Wynnewood Refining" on Justia Law

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In this action for constructive discharge, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment granting Defendant's motion to strike, holding that Plaintiff's complaint failed as a matter of law to allege that Defendant created a work atmosphere so difficult or unpleasant that a reasonable person in Plaintiff's shoes would have felt compelled to resign.Plaintiff, an optician formerly employed by Defendant, brought this action alleging that Defendant required him to violate public policy and that, as a result, Plaintiff was compelled to resign. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to strike, relying on Brittell v. Department of Correction 7171 A.2d 1254 (Conn. 1998). The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed sufficiently to allege the second requirement of a constructive discharge claim in his complaint. View "Karagozian v. USV Optical, Inc." on Justia Law