Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that some evidence supported the determination of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation that Appellant, an underground cable installation provider, had misclassified its workers as independent contractors rather than as employees for workers' compensation purposes, holding that there was no error.The Bureau determined that cable installers who Appellant had characterized as independent contractors were Appellant's employees for purposes of Ohio's workers' compensation program. Appellant requested a writ of mandamus ordering vacated of the Bureau's decision. The court of appeals denied the writ, concluding that some evidence supported the Board's determination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to establish its entitlement to a writ of mandamus. View "State ex rel. Ugicom Enterprises, Inc. v. Morrison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the additional hour of pay an employer must pay an employee if the employer unlawfully makes the employee work during all or part of a meal or rest period constitutes "wages" that must be reported on statutorily-required wage statements during employment and paid within statutory deadlines when an employee leaves the job.Plaintiff, who was suspended from his job as a guard after leaving his post to take a meal break. Plaintiff filed a putative class action on behalf of employees of Defendant seeking an additional hour of pay, so-called "premium pay," for each day on which Defendant failed to provide employees a legally-compliant meal break. The trial court determined that Defendant had violated the meal break laws for a certain period and that a failure to pay meal break premiums could support claims under the wage statement and timely payment statutes. The court of appeal reversed in part. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) the court of appeal erred in concluding that extra pay for missed breaks does not constitute "wages" to be reported on wage statements during employment; and (2) the seven percent default rate of prejudgment interest set by the state Constitution applies to amounts due for failure to provide meal and rest breaks. View "Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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James P. Key, Jr. appealed a circuit court order denying his motion to compel arbitration of his claims against Warren Averett, LLC, and Warren Averett Companies, LLC (collectively, "WA"). Key alleged that he was a certified public accountant who had been employed by WA for 25 years and had been a member of WA for 15 years; that he had executed a personal-services agreement ("PSA") with WA that included a noncompete clause; and that WA had sent him a letter terminating his employment. Key sought a judgment declaring "that the Non-Compete Clause and the financial penalty provision contained in the PSA is not applicable to Key and is an unlawful restraint of Key's ability to serve his clients as a professional." The Alabama Supreme Court found that whether Key's claims against WA had to be arbitrated was a threshold issue that should not have been decided by the circuit court; nor was it appropriate for the Supreme Court to settle the issue in this appeal. Accordingly, the circuit court's order was reversed, and the case was remanded for the circuit court to enter an order sending the case to arbitration for a determination of the threshold issue of arbitrability and staying proceedings in the circuit court during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings. View "Key v. Warren Averett, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation (“Sycuan” or “Tribe”), a federally recognized Indian tribe, sought the reversal of the district court’s order granting labor union, Unite Here Local 30’s (“Unite Here”), motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to its own complaint and motion to dismiss Sycuan’s counterclaim. Unite Here alleged that Sycuan violated the labor provisions of a contract between the two parties respecting the operation of a casino. The union brought suit to compel arbitration of that dispute pursuant to a clause contained in the contract. Sycuan opposed arbitration.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment on the pleadings in favor of Unite Here and the district court’s dismissal of a counterclaim brought by Sycuan. The court held the district court had original jurisdiction over Unite Here’s claims. Further, the court held that the district court had supplemental, but not original, jurisdiction over Sycuan’s counterclaim because the Declaratory Judgment Act does not confer jurisdiction, and Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act could not confer federal question jurisdiction.   The court concluded that the arbitrator should decide issues of contract validity, and the counterclaim rested on an issue of contract validity. Accordingly, the district court’s declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction served economy, convenience, and fairness. The court also held that Unite Here and Sycuan formed an agreement to arbitrate because Sycuan promised California that if any union made certain promises to the tribe, Sycuan would automatically enter into a bilateral contract with that union adopting the TLRO’s terms. View "UNITE HERE LOCAL 30 V. SYCUAN BAND" on Justia Law

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The Federalist, a right-leaning internet magazine, publishes commentary, including on labor issues. In June 2019, media outlets reported that unionized employees of Vox, a left-leaning digital media company, walked off the job during union contract negotiations. Domenech, The Federalist's publisher, posted a tweet from his personal Twitter account: “FYI @fdrlst first one of you tries to unionize I swear I’ll send you back to the salt mine.” The “@fdrlst” tag refers to The Federalist’s official Twitter account. The Federalist had just seven employees. At least one employee viewed the tweet, but apparently, no employee expressed concern. Fleming, having no connection to The Federalist, filed an unfair labor practice charge, citing Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB’s Regional Office issued an unfair labor practice complaint, alleging that Domenech’s tweet “threatened employees with reprisals and implicitly threatened employees with loss of their jobs if they formed or supported a union.” The Federalist objected to personal jurisdiction. The ALJ declined to revisit that issue. Citing concerns that calling witnesses would waive its jurisdictional objection, The Federalist submitted affidavits from Domenech and two employees explaining that the tweet was satire.The Board affirmed the ALJ’s decision, entered a cease-and-desist order, and ordered that Domenech delete his tweet. The Third Circuit set aside the order. The Board spent its resources investigating a company with seven employees "because of a facetious and sarcastic tweet." View "FDRLST Media LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court affirming the determination of the Nebraska Department of Labor that Appellant was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for fourteen weeks after his employment at JBS Swift Beef ended because he was discharged for misconduct, holding that remand was required.In his appeal to the district court, Appellant argued that the appeal tribunal erred in finding that he was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he was discharged for misconduct and in thus imposing a fourteen-week benefit disqualification upon him. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no competent evidence to support the district court's finding that JBS met its burden to prove Appellant was discharged for misconduct. View "Badawi v. Albin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, heirs of a nursing home resident who died after wandering off-site and getting hit by a car, filed a lawsuit against the nursing facility, its director, and its manager, alleging negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse, and wrongful death. The facility demurred to the complaint on the ground that it is barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Plaintiffs argued that the managers and director’s felony convictions revived the statute of limitations under section 340.3. Plaintiffs claimed that because the facility was liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the statute of limitations was also revived as to the facility.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s ruling and held that the extended statute of limitations does not apply to the employer of the felon in an action based on the doctrine of respondeat superior. Further, the court held that Labor Code section 2802, which allows an employee to be indemnified by his or her employer, does not apply to third parties. The court reasoned that Plaintiffs’ reliance on the Victims’ Bill of Rights embodied in Article I, Section 28 of the California Constitution is misplaced. Under that section, victims have the right to seek restitution “from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.”  Further, the court reasoned that Labor Code section 2802 allows an employee to be indemnified by his or her employer. It does “not provide access to the employer’s or its insurer’s pocketbook through a third-party suit against the employee.” View "Cardenas v. Horizon Senior Living" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued her former employer, the University of Minnesota, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), for discrimination based on her disability, failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for her disability, and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment to the University.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The court first addressed whether Plaintiff met her burden to show that the University failed to provide a reasonable accommodation; specifically, whether Plaintiff qualified for any alternative positions. The court held that Plaintiff did not meet her burden, reasoning that she did not submit the job posting, the job title, or any evidence of the duties or requirements of any position.Further, the court addressed whether the University failed to engage in the interactive process. The court concluded that there is no genuine dispute of material fact about whether the University acted in good faith to make reasonable accommodations for Plaintiff. The University offered to help Plaintiff find a new job many times and considered adopting technologies to help Plaintiff perform her job duties. Once the University realized Plaintiff could not be accommodated in her current position, an employee from the job center reached out to Plaintiff to schedule a meeting about vacant positions. But Plaintiff cancelled it, and the rescheduled meeting could not take place because Plaintiff went on full-time medical leave. Moreover, even if the University did not use good-faith efforts, Plaintiff needed to show that she “could have been reasonably accommodated but for the employer’s lack of good faith.” View "Jessica Ehlers v. University of Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that when an employer pays premiums to a mutual insurance company to obtain a policy for its employee and the insurance company demutualizes, the employee is entitled to the proceeds from demutualization.Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company (MLMIC) issued professional liability insurance policies to eight medical professionals who were litigants in the cases before the Court of Appeals on appeal. The premiums for the policies were paid by the professionals' employers. After MLMIC demutualized and was acquired by National Indemnity Company, MLMIC sought to distribute $2.502 billion in cash consideration to eligible policyholders pursuant to its plan of conversion. At issue was the employers' claim of legal entitlement to receive the demutualization proceeds. The Supreme Court held that, absent contrary terms in the contract of employment, insurance policy, or separate agreement, the employee, who is the policyholder, is entitled to the proceeds. View "Columbia Memorial Hospital v. Hinds" on Justia Law

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O’Connell began working for the County in 1999 and became a participant in the Benefit Fund, with the County transferring a portion of his salary to the Fund as his employee contribution (40 ILCS 5/9-108). In 2001, O’Connell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2017, after exhausting his paid leave, O’Connell obtained an ordinary disability benefit (50% of his salary). The Board stated that based on his years of service, the benefit would expire in August 2021. The County separated him from the position effective July 1, 2019. The Board ceased paying the ordinary disability benefit to O’Connell; the County ceased making contributions to the Fund on O’Connell’s behalf.O’Connell filed suit, alleging that the Illinois Pension Code and the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, 5) entitled him to continued ordinary disability benefit payments even though the County had terminated his employment. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of his complaint. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. O’Connell maintained standing to seek relief for reinstatement of his ordinary disability benefit by the Board and of contributions by the County and stated a sufficient cause of action for declaratory judgment and for mandamus. Once the Board grants the employee the ordinary disability benefit, Pension Code section 9-157 then enumerates triggering events, which do not include termination of employment, that halt the benefit. View "O'Connell v. County of Cook" on Justia Law