Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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After a union representing employees of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company filed a grievance against the company, the arbitrator initially sided with the union and found that the company had violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The arbitrator later vacated his earlier decision and issued a modified decision. The district court upheld the arbitrator's actions. The Fifth Circuit affirmed under the "extraordinarily narrow" standard of review that applies in its consideration of arbitration awards. The court held that the arbitrator grounded his modification within the rules that governed the parties' agreement. In this case, because the February award stemmed from a colorable interpretation of the parties' CBA, the arbitrator drew the "essence" of his decision from the parties' agreement and did not exceed his authority. View "Communications Workers of America v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co." on Justia Law

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DISH sold its satellite TV service through its own staff plus third parties: “telemarketing vendors”; “full-service retailers” that sold, installed, and serviced satellite gear; and “order-entry retailers” that used phones to sell nationwide. The United States and four states sued DISH and four order-entry retailers. The district court found that the defendants violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C.F.R. 310, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227, and related state laws. A $280 million penalty was imposed. DISH appealed concerning the extent to which DISH had to coordinate do-not-call lists with and among these retailers or was otherwise responsible for their acts. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, except for a holding that DISH is liable for “substantially assisting” Star Satellite and its measure of damages; those violations were essentially counted twice. Regardless of the definition of “cause” under the rule, which makes it unlawful for a seller to “cause a telemarketer to engage in” violations, the retailers were DISH's agents, regardless of any contractual disclaimer. They acted directly for DISH, entering orders into DISH’s system; they did not have their own inventory and were not resellers of any kind. The retailers were authorized to sell DISH’s service by phone nationwide; the district court found that DISH knew about these retailers’ wrongful acts, so DISH is liable as the principal. View "United States v. DISH Network L.L.C." on Justia Law

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After a jury awarded plaintiffs each damages for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the jury determined that the county had not shown that plaintiffs' recommendations as to other employees were given "particular" weight" or that their primary duties were management. Plaintiffs are lieutenants in the Travis County Sheriff's Office, and their main responsibility is to manage the operation of units of sergeants and deputies. The county claimed that plaintiffs were executive employees and thus exempt from the FLSA's overtime mandate. The Fifth Circuit held that the evidence was sufficient for a rational juror to conclude that the county had not met its burden of demonstrating that plaintiffs' recommendations are given particular weight, so much so that the jury acted irrationally in concluding otherwise. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant a new trial. View "Miller v. Travis County" on Justia Law

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In this appeal by allowance, the issue this case presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's (“State System”) policy regarding the protection of minors ― requiring, inter alia, that faculty members submit to criminal background checks and report to their university employers if they are arrested or convicted of a serious crime, or found or indicated to be a perpetrator of child abuse ― constituted an inherent managerial policy or prerogative, rendering it nonbargainable for purposes of collective bargaining between the faculty and the State System. The Supreme Court determined the policy at issue constituted a nonbargainable inherent managerial policy. The Court reversed the Commonwealth Court, which held to the contrary. View "APSCUF v. PLRB" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that Claimant, a former courier with Postmates, Inc., and others similarly situated are employees for whom Postmates is required to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the Board's finding that the couriers were employees. In reversing the Board's determination, the Appellate Division concluded that the proof did not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it failed to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates' control over the means by which the couriers performed their work. The Court of Appeals revered, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors. View "In re Vega" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding Claimant's award for loss of post-accident earnings, holding that because the Board departed from its administrative precedent without explanation, the case must be remitted so the Board may clarify its rationale and issue a decision in accordance with Matter of Zamora v. New York Neurologic Association, 19 NY3d 186 (N.Y. 2012). On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board's decision was inappropriate because, at the time of her disability classification, Claimant failed to establish that she attempted to and could not find work commensurate with her abilities. Before the Court of Appeals the Board admitted that it departed from its purported precedent by applying a discretionary inference in favor of Claimant as permitted by Zamora without first requiring Claimant to present evidence of her efforts to obtain work or get retrained. The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to the Board to permit the Board to develop a record of its purported precedent as applied to Claimant and clarify its determination whether to draw an inference in accordance with Zamora's core holding. View "O'Donnell v. Erie County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court allowed hundreds of former employees of W.R. Grace & Company's Zonolite Division in Libby (Grace) to continue their asbestos-related personal injury claims against Maryland Casualty Company (MCC), Grace's former workers' compensation insurance provider, holding that MCC owed Grace workers a direct common law duty under Restatement (Second) of Torts 324A(b)-(c) to use reasonable care under the circumstances to warn them of the known risk of exposure to airborne asbestos in certain Grace workplaces. The Supreme Court assumed supervisory control over proceedings pending before the Montana Asbestos Claims Court. Here the Court addressed on extraordinary review MCC's assertion that the district court erred in concluding that MCC owed a duty of care to warn third-party employees of Grace of a known risk of airborne asbestos exposure in or about Grace facilities in and about Libby, Montana between 1963 and 1970. The Supreme Court held that, based on MCC's affirmative assumption of employee-specific medical monitoring and Grace's reliance on MCC to perform that function, MCC owed Grace workers a legal duty to use reasonable care to warn them of the risk of airborne asbestos. View "Maryland Casualty Co. v. Asbestos Claims Court" on Justia Law

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Castetter underwent cancer treatment during his employment. After returning from medical leave, he became a District Manager, reporting to Dollar General's regional managers Chupp and Hubbs. Chupp identified deficiencies in Castetter’s stores and implemented a performance plan. Castetter wrote to Hubbs describing Chupp’s improper characterization of his performance and Chupp’s unprofessional conduct. The letter did not refer to cancer, medical leave, or discrimination. Hubbs claims he did not receive the letter. Castetter testified that Hubbs mocked him. Human resources issued a Final Counseling detailing Castetter’s unprofessional conduct and violations of Dollar General’s policies, including employees who had not completed the hiring process and were working without pay, insufficiently trained employees, understaffed stores, high turnover, and a cash discrepancy. Dollar General placed Castetter on another improvement plan. Human resources subsequently discovered numerous violations, including a non-employee attending an employee meeting and failure to process employment documents. Another unpaid non-employee whose paperwork was incomplete was given security access without passing background and drug tests and was stealing from the store. Dollar General terminated Castetter. The district court rejected his disability discrimination on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Castetter failed to show discriminatory intent by establishing a causal nexus between unprofessional remarks and the decision to terminate him. Castetter’s termination was based on his failure to adhere to his responsibilities. View "Castetter v. Dolgencorp, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Arizona Supreme Court: Has Arizona consented to damages liability for a State agency's violation of the minimum wage or overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act? View "Redgrave v. Ducey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Central Montana Medical Center (CCMC) and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging wrongful termination and violation of Mont. Code Ann. 39-2-904(1)(b) and (c) of the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, holding that the district court did not err. In granting summary judgment in favor of CCMC and denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the district court determined that CMMC terminated Plaintiff's employment for good cause and that CMMC did not violate its express written policies when it terminated Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact in this case, and CMMC was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Putnam v. Central Montana Medical Center" on Justia Law