Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries
City of Calexico v. Bergeson
Rudy Alarcon filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking to invalidate hearing officer Robert Bergeson’s decision upholding the City of Calexico’s (City) termination of Alarcon’s employment as a City police officer. The City filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging Bergeson’s decision to award Alarcon back pay based on his finding that the City failed to provide Alarcon with sufficient predisciplinary notice of allegations that Alarcon had been dishonest during the investigation that led to his termination. The trial court consolidated the petitions and issued a written ruling that denied both petitions. As to Alarcon’s petition, the trial court determined that Alarcon had not met his burden to establish the charges against him were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court also found that the weight of the evidence demonstrated that Alarcon had “used force” and “discourteous language” during the arrest that led to his termination. With respect to the City’s petition, the trial court determined that “the hearing officer’s lengthy finding that the dishonesty charges were not properly noticed does not rise to the level of an abuse of discretion.” After review, the Court of Appeal found no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment with respect to Alarcon; the Court determined the City’s cross- appeal was untimely and should have been dismissed. View "City of Calexico v. Bergeson" on Justia Law
Lowther et al. v. Town of Bastrop
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted this writ application to address the specific question of whether there was a cause of action for a writ of mandamus compelling a municipality to satisfy a judgment for back wages owed to its firefighter employees. Based on the ministerial nature of the statutorily and constitutionally mandated duty of the municipality to appropriate funds to satisfy the judgment, the Court found the lower courts erred in sustaining the exception of no cause of action. View "Lowther et al. v. Town of Bastrop" on Justia Law
Hughes v. Dakota Mill & Grain
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor denying Taylor Hughes's workers' compensation claim for an alleged work-related back injury, holding that the circuit court correctly held that Hughes was entitled to recover for his injury.After a hearing, the Department determined that Hughes had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that his disability was caused by a workplace injury and that his work activities were a major contributing cause of his disability. The circuit court reversed, determining (1) the Department erred by applying the incorrect standard to the causation of the injury, and (2) the Department's finding that Hughes failed to establish causation was clearly erroneous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly overturned the Department's decision because Hughes proved by a preponderance of the evidence that his injury was work-related and that his employment was a major contributing cause of his current condition. View "Hughes v. Dakota Mill & Grain" on Justia Law
Smith v. BP Lubricants USA Inc.
Robert Smith’s employer, Najjar Lube Centers, Inc. dba Jiffy Lube, held a presentation for its employees to learn about a new Castrol product. Castrol employee Gus Pumarol led the presentation. Smith alleges that Pumarol made several comments to Smith during the presentation that he considered racist and offensive. Smith sued BP Lubricants USA, Inc. dba Castrol (BP) and Pumarol for harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and for discrimination under the Unruh Act. Smith also sued Pumarol for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The trial court sustained BP and Pumarol’s demurrer without leave to amend, and Smith timely appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining BP and Pumarol’s demurrer to Smith’s FEHA claim without leave to amend, but concluded, however, that Smith sufficiently alleged claims for IIED and violation of the Unruh Act. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. BP Lubricants USA Inc." on Justia Law
Olivarez v. T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against T-Mobile and Broadspire, alleging transgender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his treatment while working as a retail employee at a T-Mobile store.The Fifth Circuit held that, under Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), a plaintiff who alleges transgender discrimination is entitled to the same benefits—but also subject to the same burdens—as any other plaintiff who claims sex discrimination under Title VII. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiff does not allege facts sufficient to support an inference of transgender discrimination—that is, that T-Mobile would have behaved differently toward an employee with a different gender identity. The court explained that, where an employer discharged a sales employee who happens to be transgender—but who took six months of leave, and then sought further leave for the indefinite future, that is an ordinary business practice rather than discrimination. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's remaining issues on appeal are likewise meritless. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Olivarez v. T-Mobile USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Roe v. Lynch
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's lawsuit brought against Defendant, the local district attorney, after Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with a police department by the Town Manager in a town in Penobscot County, Maine, holding that dismissal was proper.Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant alleged that Defendant violated his due process rights by failing to provide him with meaningful notice and opportunity to dispute allegations about his misconduct that Defendant made and allegedly sent in a letter to the Department's police chief that led the Town to its decision. The district court dismissed on state law grounds. The First Circuit affirmed on different grounds, holding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for a due process violation under either the United States or Maine Constitution. View "Roe v. Lynch" on Justia Law
Quinones v. City of Binghamton
Plaintiff, a lieutenant with the Binghamton Police Department, filed suit against the City, the City's mayor, and two Department officials, alleging that he was racially harassed by members of the Department and retaliated against for voicing concerns about discrimination.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim because the complaint does not support an inference that he was punished for engaging in protected speech. Although the complaint does not "enumerate" a claim for discrimination alongside the cause of action for retaliation, the court found that plaintiff does identify a discrimination claim. In this case, the introduction of the complaint specifies that plaintiff brings a "claim for discriminatory conduct based on Hispanic origin . . . pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981." Furthermore, the complaint includes numerous factual allegations sufficient to notify defendants that plaintiffs seeks redress for discriminatory conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part for further proceedings. View "Quinones v. City of Binghamton" on Justia Law
RAV Truck and Trailer Repairs, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board
A complaint was filed with the Board alleging that the Company had violated sections 8(a)(3) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by discharging one employee, laying off another employee, and closing RAV because employees engaged in union activity. The Board reviewed the case after a hearing before an ALJ and issued a decision and order finding that petitioner had committed the unfair labor practices as alleged.The DC Circuit denied a petition for review with respect to the Board's determination that petitioner committed unfair labor practices by terminating one employee and laying off another, concluding that substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion. Therefore, the court enforced the Board's proposed remedies, other than the restoration order and the bargaining order. The court remanded the issues of RAV's closure and the restoration order so that the Board may address the matters raised in this opinion regarding those issues. Furthermore, the Board must determine whether a unit of mechanics formerly employed by Petitioner at 3773 Merritt Avenue still exists, apart from Concrete Express, in a form that makes a bargaining order under the NLRA feasible. View "RAV Truck and Trailer Repairs, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law
Salazar v. See’s Candy Shops, Inc.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiff's motion to certify a class of employees of See's. Plaintiff alleges that See's did not provide required second meal breaks to shop employees who worked shifts longer than 10 hours.The court concluded that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in denying class certification where substantial evidence supports the trial court's conclusion that individual issues would predominate at trial. The court explained that the trial court carefully analyzed the evidence that plaintiff presented in support of her claim that she could establish liability through common proof. In light of evidence including time records showing that 24 percent of shifts longer than 10 hours actually included a second meal period, the trial court reasonably determined that at least some class members were offered a second meal period in accordance with the law. Therefore, the court explained that individual testimony would be necessary to show that See's consistently applied an unlawful practice. The court also concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that plaintiff's trial plan was inadequate to manage individual issues. View "Salazar v. See's Candy Shops, Inc." on Justia Law
Leuthard v. Independent School District 912
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) vacating factual findings made by the workers' compensation judge regarding the reasonableness and necessity of an employee's medical treatment for work-related injuries, holding that the WCCA erred.Respondent received a Gillette-style injury to her neck and upper spine. Respondent was later notified by her former employer, Appellant, that it would no longer approve reimbursement for certain injections. A compensation judge determined that the injections were neither necessary nor reasonable. The WCCA reversed, concluding that the decision of the compensation judge was not supported by substantial evidence in the record. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the WCCA erred in (1) vacating the workers' compensation judge's factual findings; and (2) directing the compensation judge to consider whether Respondent's case presented rare circumstances warranting an exception from the treatment parameters. View "Leuthard v. Independent School District 912" on Justia Law