Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Miami Auto Max violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, seeking over $12,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages. After defendant refused an offer of judgment for $3,500, he went to trial and prevailed, winning a verdict for $97 plus an equal amount in liquidated damages. The district court awarded him 37 percent of his requested attorney's fees and taxed against him the costs incurred by the parties after the offer of judgment. Plaintiff appeals both the final judgment and the order awarding fees and taxing costs.The Eleventh Circuit dismissed in part and affirmed in part, holding that plaintiff's appeal of the final judgment is untimely and that his appeal of the order awarding attorney's fees and taxing costs has no merit. In this case, the district court acted within its discretion to award a reasonable fee in light of plaintiff's limited success at trial, where he recovered only $194.40 after demanding $12,795.30. Furthermore, the district court correctly applied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 to tax the parties' post-offer costs against plaintiff. View "Vasconcelo v. Miami Auto Max, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying the request brought by Manor Care, Inc., a self-insured employer, for a writ of mandamus ordering the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to reimburse it for lump-sum permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation payments, holding that Manor Care did not establish a clear legal right to relief.Manor Care made lump-sum payments under protest to two injured workers in order to correct its long-term underpayment of their permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation. Manor Care then requested reimbursement from the Disabled Workers' Relief Fund, contending that Manor Care's underpayment of PTD compensation should be offset by the Bureau's corresponding overpayment of relief-fund benefits to the same employees, for which Manor Care had reimbursed the Bureau as part of its annual assessments. The Bureau denied the request. Manor Care then filed this action alleging that the Bureau abused its discretion by requiring Manor Care to, in effect, double-pay the purported PTD underpayment to the employees and refusing to reimburse Manor Care for the PTD underpayment amount. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Manor Care identified no authority granting a clear legal right to the relief it sought. View "State ex rel. Manor Care, Inc. v. Bureau of Workers' Compensation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the City of Warren on this complaint asserting that state civil service statutes prohibit abolishment of upper-rank police positions by attrition, holding that Ohio Rev. Code 124.37 and 124.44 do not prohibit upper-rank positions from being abolished by attrition.Members of bargaining units represented by Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association sought a writ of mandamus ordering that the officers be promoted pursuant to state civil-service law. The City declined to offer the officers promotions or exams because the City had passed an authorized-strength ordinance to abolish the subject positions upon the retirement of their former occupants. The officers argued in their complaint that the City must first promote the individual officers and only then would the City have the power to abolish the positions at issue. The court of appeals granted the City's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a City, without violating sections 124.44 and 124.39 enact an ordinance to reduce a police force by prospectively canceling the legal authorization for certain positions upon the retirement of the incumbents. View "State ex rel. Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Ass'n v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment denying plaintiff's request for leave to amend and granting Aerospace's motion for summary judgment, in an action alleging that plaintiff was selected for a company-wide reduction in force (RIF) because of his age.The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend. In this case, plaintiff's original and first amended DFEH complaints cannot support class and disparate impact theories of recovery, and thus the new allegations in his second amended DFEH complaint are untimely. As a result, plaintiff cannot show he exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to his proposed class and disparate impact claims. The court also held that the trial court did not err in granting Aerospace's motion for summary judgment where the trial court properly sustained Aerospace's objections to certain exhibits and plaintiff failed to create a triable issue of fact to withstand summary judgment. Aerospace submitted evidence showing it instituted the company-wide RIF after learning it faced potentially severe cuts to its funding, and plaintiff failed to offer substantial evidence showing that Aerospace's reasons were untrue or pretextual. View "Foroudi v. The Aerospace Corp." on Justia Law

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Appellant, police officer Randy Harrison, joined the Del City Police Department in 1995. He joined the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System. Both he and his employer made the statutorily required contributions to this plan until he resigned from the police force in 2014. At the time he left employment he had almost nineteen years of service. On January 28, 2014 he notified the pension system of his resignation and he applied to receive a full pension benefit, claiming he had the required twenty years of credited service. On February 5, 2014, Harrison was convicted of manslaughter for the on-duty shooting and killing of a suspect who tried to shoot him. In a July 2014 letter to Harrison, his request for a full service pension was denied on the basis that he had less than twenty (20) years of credited service at the time his employment ended. In December, 2014, Harrison filed an application and requested to receive a "vested benefit" instead of the return of his accumulated contributions. This application was denied by OPPRS finding that officer's "retirement benefits were forfeited in accordance with the provisions of 11 O.S. section 1-110." Following the filing of a Petition for Judicial Review of a Final Agency Determination, the district court affirmed the order of the OPPRS. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding that as a matter of law, Harrison had a retirement benefit that was vested within the meaning of section 1-110(A) and 11 O.S. section 50.111.1, which was not subject to forfeiture. View "Harrison v. Oklahoma Police Pension & Retirement System" on Justia Law

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In this Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) case, employees claim that tips and automatic gratuities cannot be considered in determining whether the restaurant met its FLSA obligations because they were paid through an unlawful tip pool. The employees alleged that the restaurant included in its tip pool employees who did not meet certain criteria in violation of the FLSA.The Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that the automatic gratuities were not tips, but concluded that the district court erred in its application of the 7(i) exemption in 29 U.S.C. 207(i). In this case, the district court incorrectly held that the section 7(i) exemption satisfied both the restaurant's minimum-wage and overtime obligations. Rather, the exemption applies only to overtime obligations. Furthermore, the district court erred in declining to include tips when determining whether the automatic gratuities constituted more than half of the employees' compensation for a representative period. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for the district court to consider the 7(i) exemption. To the extent that, on remand, the restaurant's tip pool remains relevant to its FLSA obligations, the court concluded that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether all of its participants customarily and regularly receive tips and, thus, whether the tip pool was lawful. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's judgment as to the retaliation claim. View "Wai Man Tom v. Hospitality Ventures LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant seeks damages from WMATA for an assault he suffered while working, unsatisfied with a workers' compensation order to which he previously stipulated. Another employee at WMATA pinned appellant to the ground and punched him until he was unconscious. After appellant gained consciousness, the employee attacked him again. Appellant sustained severe injuries and required hospitalization.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act barred appellant's claim because his assault arose out of his employment. In this case, the manner in which appellant carried out his duties -- trying to help a customer -- motivated the employee's assault and thus his assault arose out of his employment. View "Workagegnehu v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the BPA, in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that BPA violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by willfully interfering with her rights under the Act. The district court found that plaintiff did not prove that BPA willfully interfered with her FMLA rights and, therefore, that her claims were barred by the relevant statute of limitations.The panel held that the district court did not clearly err in determining that, even if plaintiff had proven a violation of her FMLA rights, BPA's interference was not willful. In this case, the district court applied the McLaughlin standard for willfulness, and properly concluded that there is little evidence in the record that BPA either knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the statute. The district court did not clearly err in finding that these facts did not constitute willfulness. Therefore, plaintiff's claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations in 29 U.S.C. 2617(c)(1), rather than the three-year statute of limitations under section 2617(c)(2). View "Olson v. United States" on Justia Law

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Vargas began working as a mail carrier in 2005. Mail carriers must be able to carry up to 35 pounds in their shoulder bags. Vargas’s route also required shuttling mail and equipment weighing up to 75 pounds between the post office and a satellite location. Vargas sustained an on-the-job foot injury in 2008. He was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, received treatment, submitted a successful workers’ compensation claim, and continued working. In 2011, Vargas filed an EEO complaint, raising miscellaneous workplace grievances and alleging race- and disability-related discrimination. He withdrew this complaint. Vargas’s plantar fasciitis subsequently flared up. His doctor placed him on work restrictions, March 1-22, prohibiting him from carrying more than 15 pounds. On March 14, Vargas returned to work from a vacation; he wanted his route restructured to eliminate carrying heavy loads. His superiors did not oblige and he applied for workers’ compensation. He also made daily requests for “light duty” but there was no light duty work available, so he took paid sick leave.Vargas, who is Hispanic, sued, alleging disability-based discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, with retaliation and racial discrimination claims under Title VII. Vargas still works for the Postal Service. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment rejecting his claims. Vargas could not perform the only job available to him, with or without reasonable accommodation, and there is no evidence he was treated differently because of his race or suffered unlawful workplace retaliation. View "Vargas v. DeJoy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-respondent Sarah Coughenour worked for defendant-appellant Del Taco, LLC, starting when she was 16 years old. When she was first employed by Del Taco, she signed a “Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate” (Agreement). After Coughenour reached the age of 18, she continued working for Del Taco for four months. Coughenour quit and filed a lawsuit against Del Taco for sexual harassment committed by one of their employees, wage and hour claims brought pursuant to the Labor Code, and other claims under the Fair Housing and Employment Housing Act. Del Taco moved to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the Motion, finding that Coughenour’s filing of the lawsuit was a disaffirmance of the Agreement within the meaning of Family Code section 6710, which allowed a person upon reaching majority age to disaffirm a contract entered into while a minor. Del Taco appealed the denial of its motion, arguing that by working for Del Taco for four months after she reached the age of majority, Coughenour ratified the Agreement, which estopped her power to disaffirm the Agreement. In the alternative, Del Taco argued that Coughenour did not disaffirm the Agreement within a “reasonable time” after reaching the age of 18 as required by Family Code section 6710. The Court of Appeal affirmed denial of Del Taco's motion: [t]he filing of the lawsuit was notice that [Coughenour] disaffirmed the Agreement." The trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that Coughenour disaffirmed the Agreement within a reasonable time. View "Coughenour v. Del Taco" on Justia Law