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Moreland worked as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee. Such employees to respond to events declared disasters by the president. Their work is intermittent. They are paid only for hours worked when they are “deployed.” When they are not deployed, they are “reservists” and are not paid. Moreland, who lives in Texas, filed a discrimination charge and requested a hearing. The ALJ scheduled her hearing in Wisconsin. Moreland, who was on reserve status, asked to be deployed to Wisconsin so that she would receive pay for her time and reimbursement for her travel expenses. After consulting with its Office of Equal Rights, the agency declined to deploy her to the hearing. While on reserve status, Moreland attended and testified. The agency required that two supervisors testify at the hearing, so it deployed them and paid for their time and expenses. At least one of the witnesses was on reserve status; the agency deployed her solely to testify. Moreland claims that the agency’s decision not to deploy her for the hearing was retaliation for her previous discrimination grievance. On remand, the district court granted the government summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Moreland failed to provide evidence that she suffered an adverse action and did not rebut the government’s legitimate reason for not reimbursing her--a reasonable interpretation of its own regulation. View "Moreland v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

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Gaffers is a former employee of Kelly, which provides outsourcing and consulting services to firms around the world, including “virtual” call center support, where employees like Gaffers work from home. Gaffers alleged that Kelly underpaid virtual employees, based on time spent logging in to Kelly’s network, logging out, and fixing technical problems. Gaffers sued on behalf of himself and his co-workers (over 1,600 have joined) seeking back pay and liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 216(b). About half of the employees that Gaffers sought to represent signed an arbitration agreement with Kelly (Gaffers did not sign one) stating that individual arbitration is the “only forum” for employment claims, including unpaid-wage claims. Kelly moved to compel individual arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 4. Gaffers contended that the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act rendered the arbitration agreements unenforceable. The district court agreed with Gaffers. The Sixth Circuit reversed. In 2018, the Supreme Court held, in Epic Systems, that the National Labor Relations Act does not invalidate individual arbitration agreements. The court rejected arguments that FLSA displaced the Arbitration Act by providing a right to “concerted activities” or “collective action” or rendered the employees’ arbitration agreements illegal and unenforceable. View "Gaffers v. Kelly Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that defendants took adverse employment action against plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment in retaliation for her giving advice to a co-worker who was being arrested by campus police. The court declined to apply the law of the case doctrine where the district court initially entered an order denying defendants' motion for summary judgment before changing its mind, because plaintiff did not point to any prejudice she suffered by reason of the change of ruling and the court saw no impropriety in the district court's exercise of its discretion to revisit its earlier denial of summary judgment. On the merits, the court held that defendants were protected from both liability and the obligation to defend the case because of qualified immunity. In this case, there was no clearly established law to the effect that plaintiff's speech was on a matter of public concern. View "Colvin v. Keen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict in favor of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BN) on Plaintiff’s claims that BN violated the standard of care under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA), holding that Plaintiff’s allegations of error on appeal were unavailing. Plaintiff alleged injury for exposure to asbestos during his work at a treatment plant operated by BN’s predecessor. A jury found in favor of BN. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding certain evidence at trial; (2) Plaintiff was not denied a fair trial due to any alleged trial misconduct on the part of BN; and (3) Plaintiff was not denied a fair trial due to any alleged discovery misconduct on the part of BN. View "Daley v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co" on Justia Law

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Labor Code section 226.2, effective January 1, 2016, addresses the compensation of piece-rate employees for rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time on the job (rest/NP time). Subdivision (b) provides a safe harbor for an employer that, before 2016, failed to properly compensate piece-rate workers for rest/NP time; an employer that pays its employees for previously unpaid rest/NP time accrued between July 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015, is entitled to “an affirmative defense to any claim . . based solely on the employer’s failure to timely pay the employee the compensation due for [rest/NP time] . . . for time periods prior to and including December 31, 2015.” In 2014, Lainez filed suit on behalf of himself and others, against Jackpot, which performs harvesting and farming activities. Lainez alleged that Jackpot compensated him on a piece-rate basis and sought unpaid minimum wages for rest/NP time, interest, liquidated damages, and statutory penalties. Six months later, section 226.2 became law. Jackpot complied with section 226.2(b) by making back payments to Lainez and 1,138 other current and former employees. The superior court denied Jackpot summary judgment, concluding that the statutory language was unclear and does not provide a defense for claims accruing before July 2012. The court of appeal concluded that under the statute's unambiguous language, an employer complying with the statute has an affirmative defense against any employee claims for rest/NP time accruing before and including December 31, 2015. View "Jackpot Harvesting Co. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Emerson, a Cook County Department of Corrections corrections officer, alleged that County employees unlawfully discriminated against her during her “tumultuous” tenure at a County detention facility. During that time, she twice filed formal personnel grievances. She claims that she was subsequently the victim of retaliation. She was on paid medical leave from September 2012 until March 2014, and she has remained on unpaid leave ever since. While her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, were pending, Emerson took to Facebook to threaten potential witnesses with legal action if they testified against her. The district judge sanctioned Emerson ($17,000) for the threat and eventually entered summary judgment for the defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that Emerson’s grievance regarding scheduling did not qualify as protected activity under Title VII because it did not allege that Grochowski (who made the schedule) targeted her because of her race, sex, or other protected characteristic. Emerson had no proof that Grochowski ever knew of her earlier grievance, so she cannot establish that they harbored the retaliatory motive necessary for a Title VII retaliation claim. View "Emerson v. Dart" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, a former Deputy Counsel, alleging that her termination was the product of discrimination based on her age and sex, in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA). Plaintiff also alleged that Amtrak later retaliated against her for filing her EEO complaint, and that two of its employees aided and abetted those violations. The court held that plaintiff failed to point to record evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer either age or sex discrimination, and the sanction she sought was unwarranted. In this case, it was the Inspector General's prerogative to choose a General Counsel and Deputy Counsel with whom he felt he and his team could communicate clearly and efficiently, and in whom they could repose their trust and confidence; plaintiff's "primary clients" at the OIG all testified they had reservations about whether she was the best person to serve OIG; and they unanimously expressed concern that she was more likely to resist their objectives than to aid them. View "Ranowsky v. National Railroad Passenger Corp." on Justia Law

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The 2013 Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) did not infringe on the First Amendment rights of a group of parents who provide home care services to their disabled children. PELRA applied to persons who provide in-home care to disabled Medicaid recipients, and authorized covered employees to organize and to designate by majority vote an exclusive representative to negotiate employment terms with the state. The parents complained that the Act unconstitutionally compelled them to associate with the exclusive negotiating representative. Determining that the parents had Article III standing, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that, under Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, the current version of PELRA allowed the homecare providers to form their own advocacy groups independent of the exclusive representative, and it did not require any provider to join the union. Therefore, the state did not impinge on the parents' right not to associate by recognizing an exclusive negotiating representative. View "Bierman v. Dayton" on Justia Law

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AC operates transit buses in and around Alameda County. Bus routes range from 15 minutes to over an hour, with a small recovery time scheduled at the end of each route, which may not be available depending on whether the driver is running on schedule. Drivers can be behind the wheel for up to 10 hours a shift. AC operated 695 buses; only 20 percent were air-conditioned. In 2007, the Department of Industrial Relation’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited AC for violations of California Code of Regulations, title 8 section 3395 with respect to the buses: failure to supply adequate drinking water to drivers; failure to make shade continuously available for drivers; and failure to develop heat illness procedures and related training for employees and supervisors. The standards apply to “outdoor” places of employment. The Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board affirmed an ALJ's dismissal of the violations. The trial court ordered the Board to reconsider. The court of appeal agreed, reasoning that the trial court’s broader construction of section 3395 is well-supported by the regulation's language and related regulatory history and comports with the underlying purpose of the entire statutory scheme: the achievement of safe working environments. View "California Department of Industrial Relations v. AC Transit" on Justia Law

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United Airlines pilot instructors sued their union, ALPA, alleging that ALPA had breached its duty of fair representation in its allocation of a retroactive pay settlement among different groups of pilots. The district court dismissed the case. The Seventh Circuit reversed. A claim of discrimination or bad faith must rest on more than a showing that a union’s actions treat different groups of employees differently and must be based on more than the discriminatory impact of the union’s otherwise rational decision to compromise. The Instructors sufficiently and plausibly pleaded that ALPA acted in bad faith in its allocation of retroactive pay between the line pilots and pilot instructors. A union may not make decisions “solely for the benefit of a stronger, more politically favored group over a minority group.” The plaintiffs have alleged that pilot instructors make up a minority of ALPA’s membership and that ALPA acted with the intent to appease its majority membership, the line pilots, after a lengthy and contentious CBA negotiation. View "Bishop v. Air Line Pilots Association, International" on Justia Law