Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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AT&T employed Fowler, 1986-2016. She was diagnosed in 2006 with epilepsy that caused cognitive impairments. In 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and informed AT&T of her diagnosis. In December 2015, AT&T planned to reduce Fowler’s unit by consolidating roles. Fowler began a new position in March 2016. After two months, Fowler sought reassignment, acknowledging she did not have the skills for the job. AT&T, through an outsourced service center, negotiated with Fowler’s doctors on her accommodation requests but the representatives found that Fowler “could not describe a specific accommodation that would help her on the job.” Fowler, age 60, was laid off and could not find any replacement positions within AT&T. She was terminated and sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621.The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of AT&T. Based on the original downsizing, Fowler established an adverse employment action that could support a discrimination claim, although she eventually found another job within AT&T. However, AT&T provided powerful evidence that Fowler’s selection for downsizing was simply a neutral reduction in force; she has not provided sufficient evidence to suggest that the explanation was a pretext. As for Fowler’s termination, she may not maintain discrimination or failure-to-accommodate claims connected to a job for which she was not qualified by her own admission. View "Fowler v. AT&T Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held in these consolidated appeals that liability for the death benefits claims at issue could not be transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (the Special Fund).At issue in these appeals was whether New York Workers' Compensation Law 25-a(1-a), under which no liability for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2014 may be transferred to the Special Fund, forecloses the transfer of liability for a death benefits claim submitted on or after the cut-off date, regardless of the prior transfer of liability for a worker's disability claim arising out of the same injury. The Court of Appeals held that, based on the plain statutory language and this Court's established precedent, liability for the death benefits claims at issue in these cases could not be transferred to the Special Fund. View "Verneau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y." on Justia Law

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After the Board concluded that NYPS committed an unfair labor practice and ordered NYPS to reinstate an employee and make him whole, NYPS appealed the Board’s liability finding but failed to file an opening brief. The Fifth Circuit entered a default judgment and the Board held a compliance proceeding to determine damages. At the proceeding, an ALJ awarded some $91,000 in backpay to the employee.The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court's findings support the Board's conclusion that petitioners constitute a single employer. In this case, substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that there is common ownership and financial control among petitioners; substantial evidence supports the Board's finding of an interrelation of operations between all five petitioners; the record supports the Board's finding that a common cast of characters, who operate on a "readily fungible" team, manage the companies; and substantial evidence once supports the Board's findings that there is centralized control over critical policy matters.The court rejected petitioners' contention that the underlying 2013 merits order is void ab initio because of the Supreme Court's holding in NLRB v. Noel Canning, 573 U.S. 513, 519 (2014). The court affirmed the Board's order to pay the employee backpay except for the portion of that order awarding backpay for the period of October 2014 to 2018. As to that part of the order, the court reversed and remanded. Finally, the court rejected petitioners' evidentiary arguments. View "New York Party Shuttle, LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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Elation sued Fenn and Shi for breach of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) (against Shi only) entered during the course of Shi’s prior employment with Elation and breach of a confidential settlement agreement and mutual release (Settlement Agreement) (against both defendants) entered to resolve a prior action between the parties. The defendants filed a cross-complaint, alleging Elation’s breach of the Settlement Agreement. Elation admitted to liability and stipulated to $10,000 in liquidated damages on the cross-claim for breach of the Settlement Agreement. A jury found that Shi had breached the NDA and harmed Elation, and awarded Elation $10,000 in damages. The court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), denied Elation’s motion for injunctive relief, and awarded defendants $700,000 in attorney fees.The court of appeal reversed in part. The trial court should have awarded Elation nominal damages on its NDA claim, as defendants’ JNOV motion did not challenge the jury’s finding that Shi breached the NDA. Substantial evidence did not support the jury’s finding in Elation’s favor on its Settlement Agreement claim. The court affirmed the order granting JNOV as to Elation’s Settlement Agreement claim and vacated the award of attorney fees. View "Elation Systems, Inc. v. Fenn Bridge LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court preliminarily enjoining the West Virginia Paycheck Protection Act, passed by the Legislature in 2021, from taking effect, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it granted Respondents injunctive relief.Respondents - labor unions, employee associations, and individual members of such groups - sought to enjoin the enforcement of the Act, which prohibits state employers from continuing to deduct union dues and employee association membership fees from public employees' wages. The circuit court concluded that the law violated certain of Respondents' constitutional rights and that its enforcement would irreparably harm them. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it did not deny injunctive relief to Respondents. View "Justice v. W. Va. AFL-CIO" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the circuit court entered under the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, W. Va. Code 23-5-1 to -18 (the WPCA), holding that the court acted within its discretion, and there was otherwise no error.Employer in this case made withholdings from the wages of its employees that met the definition of an assignment set forth under the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, W. Va. Code 23-5-1 to -18 (the WPCA). Employer, however, never procured from its employees a writing that complied with the conditions set forth in the WPCA. Employees filed a class-action suit to recoup Employer's withholdings. The circuit court entered an orders (1) finding Employer liable for violating the WPCA, and (2) awarding Employees the wages improperly taken from their paychecks, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion or err in its orders. View "Fairmont Tool, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court reversing the decision of a West Virginia State Police Grievance System hearing officer and ordering the reinstatement of Respondent to his employment as a state trooper, holding that the circuit court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of the hearing examiner.The hearing examiner concluded that Respondent had committed conduct unbecoming of a state trooper and had used excessive force, among other things, and that the preponderance of the evidence supported the decision to terminate Respondent's employment. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the hearing examiner's decision was clearly wrong and erroneous as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of the hearing examiner, who was the factfinder in this manner; and (2) the hearing examiner's account of the evidence was plausible in light of the entire record. View "W. Va. State Police v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of workers' compensation claims determining that Employee's workplace injury did not arise primarily out of and in the course and scope of his employment and granting summary judgment for Employer, holding that the court of workers' compensation claims property granted summary judgment for Employer.Employee was painting the exterior of a house a house while working for Employer on a windy day when he took a break from painting. At one point, he used a portable restroom, not obtained by Employer, located on the street and was struck by a dead tree that had fallen. Employer denied Employee workers' compensation, finding that Employee's injury resulted from an "act of God" and did not arise primarily out of his employment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of workers' compensation claims properly determined that Employee's injuries did not arise primarily out of his employment. View "Rosasco v. West Knoxville Painters, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (the Hospital) terminated the employment of registered nurse Kimberly Wilkin (Wilkin) after discovering she had violated the Hospital’s policies governing the handling and documentation of patient medications. Wilkin sued the Hospital, alleging her discharge constituted disability discrimination, retaliation, and otherwise violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); resulted in the unlawful denial of medical leave and retaliation in violation of the Moore- Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act (CFRA); and constituted a wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Over a year after Wilkin filed her complaint, the Hospital moved for summary judgment, producing undisputed evidence, including Wilkin’s deposition testimony, showing she had violated policies governing the handling of medication, and, for over a year before she was discharged, had been regularly counseled for her chronic absenteeism and other issues. The trial court concluded the Hospital carried its burden of producing evidence showing its decision was based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons. After Wilkin did not produce any evidence showing the Hospital’s reasons were fabricated or otherwise pretextual, the trial court concluded a reasonable trier of fact could not find in favor of Wilkin on any of her claims and granted summary judgment in favor of the Hospital. To this, the Court of Appeal affirmed. "As all of Wilkin’s claims depended on there being a triable issue of fact regarding the lawfulness of her discharge, and our record does not show such a triable issue of fact exists, summary judgment was properly granted." View "Wilkin v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula" on Justia Law

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Reinebold, then 56 years old, applied to be the head baseball coach of Indiana University South Bend (IUSB). After IUSB declined to hire Reinebold, he sued IUSB, Athletic Director Bruce, and Assistant Athletic Director Norris under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed all of Reinebold’s claims with his concession except for his section 1983 claims against Bruce and Norris in their individual capacities. The district court then entered summary judgment in favor of Bruce and Norris, finding that Reinebold did not identify a suitable comparator and did not show that he was intentionally treated differently because of his age.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The hiring committee distinguished Reinebold and his proposed comparator Buysse (age 31) based on their respective performances during their interviews. The evidence shows that Reinebold performed poorly during his phone interview. Buysse performed well. An employer is not required to score a job interview using objective criteria. View "Reinebold v. Bruce" on Justia Law