Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Nebraska Worker's Compensation Court's awards for injuries suffered by Halina Picard in two separate accidents, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the doctrine of apportionment did not apply but erred in affirming the award of benefits for Picard's 2015 accident and injury. In 2016, Picard filed claims against P & C Group 1, Inc. relating to industrial injuries she received in 2012 and 2015. The compensation court determined that Picard was entitled to an award for a whole body injury based on both injuries, that apportionment was not appropriate, and that Picard was entitled to attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed the awards for Picard's 2012 and 2015 injuries and reversed the attorney fees award. The Supreme Court reversed Picard's award of benefits for the 2015 injury, holding that the court of appeals (1) did not err in vacating Picard's attorney fees award; (2) did not err in finding that apportionment was inapplicable and determining that Picard's second injury award should not be apportioned with the first; and (3) erred in disregarding Picard's disability from the 2012 accident when assessing her lost earnings from the 2015 injury. View "Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was denied tenure as an assistant professor of Legal Studies at the University of Mississippi, he filed suit against several university officials in their individual capacities, alleging that they violated his substantive due process rights when they evaluated his eligibility for tenure in an arbitrary and capricious manner. A jury subsequently awarded plaintiff over $200,000 in damages for lost wages and past and future pain and suffering. The Fifth Circuit reversed and rendered judgment in favor of defendants, holding that the district court erred when it denied defendants' motions for qualified immunity and concluded that plaintiff had a clearly established property interest. In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the language in his contract that allegedly guaranteed him a "fair process of tenure review" gave rise to a clearly-established property right. View "Wigginton v. Jones" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Tyburski, then age 74, applied for a promotion with his employer, the Chicago Department of Water Management. His application was rejected. Tyburski sued, claiming that he was denied the promotion because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621–634. He also brought a hostile work environment claim under the ADEA regarding harassment he allegedly experienced at two Department facilities. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the city. Tyburski has not supplied evidence showing that his age, rather than his failing score on the requisite verbal exam, was the reason he missed out on the desired promotion. Assuming a hostile work environment claim is cognizable under the ADEA, Tyburski failed to present sufficient evidence for a factfinder to conclude that the purported harassment he experienced was severe or pervasive. Tyburski also failed to exhaust this claim regarding conduct that allegedly occurred at one facility, as he did not file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reporting that conduct. View "Tyburski v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiffs' petition alleging that the City of Providence violated the terms of two superior court consent judgments entered in 2004 and seeking to enforce those judgments and to hold the City in contempt, holding that the City violated separation-of-powers principles. Plaintiffs, a retired firefighter and two retired police officers, filed a petition to enforce the 2004 consent judgments and hold the City in contempt of those judgments. The trial justice granted summary judgment for the City, finding that a pension ordinance passed in 2012 modified Plaintiffs' rights under the consent judgments. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that a consent judgment cannot be overruled or otherwise modified by city ordinance. The City countered that the court would have violated separation of powers principles by finding it in contempt because courts cannot restrain municipal bodies from exercising their legislative powers. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) by enacting the pension ordinance, the City attempted to alter a superior court decision entered in the form of the consent judgment and thereby infringed on the exercise of judicial power; and (2) therefore, to the extent that the pension ordinance purported to nullify the consent judgment, it violated separation-of-powers principles embodied in the state constitution. View "Quattrucci v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment entered in favor of Rand in an action brought by plaintiff, a former employee, alleging that Rand unlawfully fired her for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The court affirmed and agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Rand's justification for the termination was false and merely a pretext for retaliation. In this case, Rand presented a lawful explanation for firing plaintiff: performance problems. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding a former employee's testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 403. View "Fry v. Rand Construction Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Koss in an action brought by plaintiff, a former employee, alleging that Koss terminated her employment in retaliation for her complaints about pay discrimination based on sex in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The court held that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to pretext. In this case, plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence as to the question of whether there was no basis in fact for Koss's proffered reason for her termination: there was lack of work at the project. The court also held that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on the question of whether a retaliatory reason more likely motivated the manager's decision to terminate her. View "Yearns v. Koss Construction Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Court affirming the decree of the trial judge that Petitioner had failed to prove that he sustained a neck injury arising out of and in the course of his employment, holding that legally competent evidence supported the Appellate Division's determination. Before the Supreme Court, Petitioner argued that the trial judge committed reversible error by stating that Dr. Thomas Rocco, M.D. was not qualified to opine on an orthopedic issue because he was a board certified general surgeon, not a board certified orthopedic surgeon, and finding Dr. Rocco's testimony to be inconsistent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Division did not err in upholding the trial judge's decision to discount Dr. Rocco's testimony; and (2) there was legally competent evidence to support the conclusion of the Appellate Division that Dr. Rocco's testimony was inconsistent. View "Thompson v. Millard Wire Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff's injury-by-disease was compensable under Hawai'i's workers' compensation law because the employer failed to overcome the presumption in favor of compensability. Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim for injury-by-disease. The Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board (LIRAB) rejected the claim, concluding that the employer's Independent Medical Examinations (IME) reports provided sufficient substantial evidence to overcome the statutory presumption in favor of compensability. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment and the LIRAB's decision, holding that the employer's IME reports failed to provide substantial evidence to meet its burden to produce evidence that, if true, would overcome the statutory presumption that the injury was work-related. The Court remanded the case to the LIRAB with the instruction that Plaintiff's injury-by-disease was compensable under Hawai'i's workers' compensation law. View "Cadiz v. QSI, Inc." on Justia Law

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Darby notified her Childvine supervisor that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a double mastectomy. Mayhugh expressed doubt about whether Childvine would allow Darby to remain employed when her surgery date fell within her 90-day probationary period. Darby moved the procedure to the day after her probationary period expired. Darby’s request to use her vacation and sick time to recover from the procedure was approved. When Darby returned to work, with a medical release, she learned that Childvine had sent a letter of termination effective on the last day of her probationary period because of an “unpleasant” attitude, dress code violations, and “being unable to work.” Darby filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), noting that she was never disciplined for behavior issues. In reviewing Darby’s medical records, Childvine learned that Darby was never diagnosed with cancer; she had a family history of cancer and the BRCA1 “pre-cancerous genetic mutation.” The district court stated that the definition of physical impairment does not include a condition that might lead to cancer, and dismissed the case. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Darby plausibly alleged that her impairment substantially limits her normal cell growth as compared to the general population due to both the BRCA1 gene and a medical diagnosis of abnormal epithelial cell growth serious enough to warrant a double mastectomy. View "Darby v. Childvine, Inc." on Justia Law

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David worked as an RN at QVMC from 2005-2015, as an hourly employee. David clocked in and out of work using an electronic timekeeping system that automatically rounded time entries up or down to the nearest quarter-hour. After her employment ended, David sued QVMC alleging failure to provide meal and rest periods, and failure to pay minimum wages. David claimed she was not paid for hours worked off-the-clock, such as when she performed charting work, and when her meal and rest periods were interrupted by co-workers and charge nurses who asked her work-related questions. David also claimed she was not paid all wages because of the hospital’s time-rounding policy. QVMC argued that whenever David reported a missed break, she received an extra hour of pay and that it could not be held liable for missed meal or rest periods of which it was unaware. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of QVMC. QVMC’s rounding policy is neutral on its face and rounds all employee time punches to the nearest quarter-hour without consideration of whether the employer or employee is benefitting from the rounding. QVMC provided the breaks required by law: an employer is not obligated to police those breaks and ensure no work is performed. View "David v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center" on Justia Law