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In 2008, Midwest hired Plaintiff. In 2015, Plaintiff informed Midwest that she was pregnant. Plaintiff claims her supervisor made negative comments and was annoyed by Plaintiff’s absences for pre-natal appointments. About three months later, Plaintiff was terminated “[d]espite … no record of discipline.” Plaintiff testified that Midwest’s president presented Plaintiff with an agreement and said that she “needed to sign then if [she] wanted any severance,” that she felt bullied and signed the agreement, which provided that Plaintiff would waive “any and all past, current and future claims” against Midwest. Plaintiff later stated that she assumed that "claims" referred to unpaid wages or benefits. Midwest paid and Plaintiff accepted $4,000. Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC, then filed suit, alleging that Midwest terminated her because of her pregnancy, that Midwest has a sex-segregated workforce, and discrimination in compensation, citing Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e(k); 42 U.S.C. 1981a; Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act; and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d). After filing, Plaintiff returned the $4,00, saying that she was “rescinding the severance agreement.” The Sixth Circuit reversed summary judgment entered in favor of the Defendant. Under the tender-back doctrine, contracts tainted by mistake, duress, or even fraud are voidable at the option of the innocent party if the innocent party first tenders back any benefits received; if she fails to do so within a reasonable time after learning of her rights, she ratifies the contract. The doctrine does not apply to claims under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. View "McClellan v. Midwest Machining, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a wage-and-hour action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) based on res judicata grounds. In this case, plaintiff conceded that she was subject to a state class-action settlement that released all claims arising from the allegations on which her FLSA action was predicated. The panel applied California law and held that the FLSA action was not excepted from the ordinary operation of res judicata because the decision in the prior proceeding was final and on the merits, the present proceeding was on the same cause of action as the prior proceeding, and the parties in the present proceeding were parties to the prior proceeding. View "Rangel v. PLS Check Cashiers of California, Inc." on Justia Law

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Koty, a DuPage County Sheriff’s Department deputy, requested a different squad car model. Koty’s physician indicated Koty should be given a car with more legroom to accommodate a hip condition. The Department denied Koty’s requests. Koty submitted EEOC complaints alleging discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Shortly thereafter, the Department reassigned Koty to courthouse duty, for which he would not need to drive a squad car. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of Koty’s claims that the Department violated the ADA when it denied his request for an SUV and then wrongfully retaliated against him for making the EEOC complaint. Koty did not qualify as “disabled” under the ADA and the Department took no adverse employment actions against Koty. All Koty alleged was that he is unable to drive one model of vehicle, which does not affect a major life activity. The transfer did not result in a pay decrease, other than Koty’s diminished opportunity for overtime pay. Koty did offer some evidence that courthouse duty is considered less prestigious but Koty conceded he knew the transfer was a way for the Department to accommodate his hip pain, an accommodation he requested. “It is the employer’s prerogative to choose a reasonable accommodation.” View "Koty v. County of Dupage" on Justia Law

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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