Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Nathan Smith appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of his former employer, Kount, Inc., and denying his cross motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the compensation agreement he signed unambiguously required Smith to remain employed until a specified date to earn the bonus compensation, and Smith resigned before that date. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Smith v. Kount Inc." on Justia Law

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Lacy filed a retaliation complaint against her former employer, Crestwood Behavioral Health, with the California Labor Commissioner, under Labor Code section 98.7(a). After the Commissioner notified Crestwood of its investigation of Lacy’s complaint, Crestwood filed a petition to compel arbitration against Lacy but did not include the Commissioner as a party. In granting the petition, the trial court compelled Lacy to arbitrate her retaliation complaint and stayed the Commissioner’s investigation pending the completion of that arbitration. Approximately 100 days after Crestwood alerted her to the trial court’s ruling, the Labor Commissioner moved to intervene so she could vacate the order. The trial court denied the motion to intervene as untimely and because the order staying the Commissioner’s investigation did not impair or impede her ability to protect her interest in Lacy’s retaliation complaint.The court of appeal reversed. The motion to intervene was timely; neither party was prejudiced by the delay. The arbitration order prevents the Commissioner from exercising this authority indefinitely; it necessarily impairs the ability of the Commissioner to protect the public interest “in protecting the rights of individual employees and job applicants who could not otherwise afford to protect themselves.” View "Crestwood Behavioral Health v. Lacy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus compelling the Ohio Industrial Commission to vacate its orders rejecting a proposed settlement between Employee and Employer, holding that the court of appeals correctly denied the writ.Employee suffered a work-related injury, and his workers' compensation claim was allowed. Employee applied for an award of additional compensation due to Employer's alleged violation of specific safety requirements (VSSRs). Employer and Employee subsequently submitted a proposed settlement for approval by the Commission. A staff hearing officer rejected the settlement as neither fair nor equitable and then granted Employee's request for a VSSR award. Employer sought a writ of mandamus compelling the Commission to vacate its orders and approve the settlement, but the court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Employer's three propositions of law are rejected. View "State ex rel. Zarbana Industries, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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Defendant RGIS, LLC (RGIS) appealed a trial court’s order denying its petition to compel arbitration of representative claims under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (PAGA). In denying the petition, the trial court followed the California Supreme Court’s decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014), which held that individual employees cannot contractually waive their right to bring a representative action under the PAGA, and this state law rule was not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). RGIS argued that the Supreme Court’s holding in Iskanian was subsequently abrogated by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis, __ U.S. __ [138 S.Ct. 1612] (2018). The Court of Appeal found, however, that Epic Systems did not consider the same issue concerning the nonwaivable nature of PAGA claims decided by Iskanian. Accordingly, and along with every published appellate decision that has decided this issue, the Court rejected the argument and followed Iskanian. Although it agreed with the multitude of reported cases addressing this issue, the Court published this opinion because this was an issue of first impression for this district. View "Williams v. RGIS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the rulings of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's claims alleging that his termination violated 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, holding that there was no merit to Plaintiff's challenges on appeal.On appeal, Plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant on his Title VII retaliation claim, its dismissal of Plaintiff's Title VII hostile work environment claims for his failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and its denial of Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint to add a claim of disability discrimination. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the retaliation claim, its dismissal of the hostile work environment claim, and its denial of Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint. View "Jenkins v. Housing Court Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) upholding a compensation judge's order requiring Employer to reimburse Employee for medical cannabis, holding that the WCCA erred.Employee was injured while working for Employer. After multiple rounds of medical intervention proved to be unsuccessful, Employee's doctor certified her for participation in the state's medical cannabis program. Employee sought reimbursement for the cost of the cannabis from Employer. Employer asserted in response that the federal prohibition in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 801-971, on the possession of cannabis preempted the requirement under Minnesota law that an employer pay for an injured employee's medical treatment when that treatment is medical cannabis. The WCCA declined to address the preemption argument and upheld the compensation judge's order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the WCCA lacked subject matter jurisdiction to determine the preemption issue; and (2) the CSA preempted the compensation court's order mandating Employer to pay for Employee's medical cannabis. View "Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center & Hartford Insurance Group" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the workers' compensation court of appeals (WCCA) affirming the decision of the compensation judge granting Respondent's claim petition seeking reimbursement from his former employer for the cost of medical cannabis, holding that the WCCA erred.At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the WCCA correctly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide arguments that require interpreting federal law and whether the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 801-971, preempts the requirement in Minnesota law for an employer to reimburse an injured employee for the cost of medical treatment, Minn. Stat. 176.135, subd. 1(a). The Supreme Court held (1) the WCCA lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide whether the relevant federal law preempted the relevant Minnesota law in this case; and (2) the CSA preempted the compensation court's order mandating Relators to pay for Respondent's medical cannabis. View "Bierbach v. Digger's Polaris" on Justia Law

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Morales accepted a full-time position at Factor, a flooring store, in 2016. His duties included cleaning the warehouse, accepting shipments, making deliveries to job site locations, picking up tile from distributors, and assisting customers in the selection of tile. Morales’s regular hours were Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Beginning March 9, 2018, Morales no longer worked every Saturday. After asking Factor to be compensated for overtime hours, Morales was terminated.Morales sued, seeking unpaid overtime wages, meal and rest break compensation, statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements, and alleging retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The trial court entered a $99,394.16 judgment in favor of Morales, which included $42,792.00 in unpaid overtime wages. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the trial court erred in calculating Morales’s regular rate of pay for purposes of determining the amounts owed to Morales for unpaid overtime. The court calculated Morales’s regular rate of pay by dividing his weekly paychecks by 40, the number of non-overtime hours Morales worked per week. If the employer has failed to keep records required by statute, the consequences for such failure should fall on the employer. View "Morales v. Factor Surfaces LLC" on Justia Law

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Janitors worked for VPM providing janitorial services at a residential complex (the Site). VPM and the Union executed an agreement, providing that, if VPM terminated its janitorial contract with the Site, VPM would offer a severance package to employees who executed an agreement stating they were voluntarily resigning and releasing all claims against VPM. The Termination Agreement stated: “[N]either the Union nor any bargaining unit employee waives any rights under the Displaced Janitors Opportunity Act to require any successor employer to offer employment to existing employees ” VPM terminated its janitorial contract with the Site. Janitors signed Separation Agreements stating the employee was voluntarily resigning, providing lump-sum payments, and releasing all claims against VPM. Days later, Successor began providing janitorial services at the Site; Janitors appeared at the Site and asserted their right to retention. Successor did not retain any of the Janitors.Plaintiffs sued Successor under the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act (Lab. Code 1060–1065; DJOA), and the Displaced Worker Protection Act. The court of appeal affirmed an award of summary judgment and attorney fees in favor of the Union and Janitors. The court rejected arguments concerning the “voluntary resignations” and that VPM stopped providing services a few days before the nominal end of the contract and, therefore, had no employees “at the time of contract termination.” View "SEIU-USWW v. Preferred Building Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Railey clocked in and out of work at the Sunset Food Mart by placing her hand on a biometric scanner. She brought a class action in state court in 2019 alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Two years into litigation, Sunset removed the case to federal court, alleging that Railey’s claims were completely preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. Sunset explained the timing of the removal by pointing to an interrogatory response it received from Railey in October 2020 in which she confirmed her membership in a labor union.The district court found Sunset’s removal untimely. Citing the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the remand to state court. A Class Action Fairness Act exception for “home-state controversies” directs that district courts “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction” over a class action in which “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed,” 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(4)(B). Railey brought a putative class action on behalf of Illinois citizens against a small Illinois grocery chain under Illinois law. Sunset missed its preemption-based removal window. View "Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc." on Justia Law