Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act. The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law

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Lee, a public-school teacher, was required to either join the union or pay fair-share fees as a non-member because the collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the union included a fair-share clause. Lee paid fair-share fees. Anticipating that the Supreme Court would overrule its precedent endorsing fair-share fees (Abood), Lee filed a putative class action, asserting that the union and state actors had violated her constitutional rights by imposing compulsory fair-share fees as a condition of employment. She sought a declaration that provisions of Ohio law were unconstitutional and damages. Two days later, the Supreme Court issued its "Janus" decision, reasoning that fair-share fees resulted in non-members being “forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities,” thereby violating the free speech rights of non-members. Lee dismissed her claims against the state officials and the school district. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the union. The union, as a private actor sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, was entitled to rely on its good faith in following existing Ohio law and Supreme Court precedent. The state-law conversion count failed to state a plausible claim for relief. View "Lee v. Ohio Education Association" on Justia Law

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Dr. Dennis Rivero appealed the grant of summary judgment awarded in favor of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents (Defendant). Dr. Rivero was employed full-time by the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) from 1992 until early 2007, when he voluntarily decreased his workload to one day per month while he worked full-time in Oklahoma. After several months on this schedule, Rivero asked the chair of the UNMH orthopedics department, Dr. Robert Schenck, if he could return to full-time or three-quarter-time employment. For several years nothing came of this request, and Rivero continued to work in Oklahoma while spending only one day per month performing surgeries at UNMH. In December 2010, Schenck and Rivero agreed that Rivero could gradually reach a three-quarter-time position if he complied with certain conditions, namely that Rivero “attend four counseling sessions” before his workload would be increased. UNMH sent Rivero an addendum to his employment contract (the Addendum) to formalize the terms of the agreement. Rivero was “shocked by the requirements of the Addendum” and sought access to his personnel files. The University refused to turn over his files and withdrew the Addendum about two weeks later. Rivero continued to work one day a month at UNMH. After UNMH refused to let his see his personnel files, Rivero petitioned for a writ of mandamus in New Mexico state court seeking an order that UNMH provide him access to the files. The court ordered production of the files, and by January 2014 Rivero had received his complete files. He resigned from his position with UNMH a few months later, and pursued relief with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the Agency, Rivero filed the underlying suit, alleging UNMH violated the Rehabilitation Act by requiring psychiatric evaluations and constructively discharging him on the basis of a perceived disability. After review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded summary judgment was appropriate: (1) Rivero’s claim relating to the Rehabilitation Act was untimely; and (2) his claim that he was constructively discharged was not supported by the evidence presented. View "Rivero v. Univ. N.M. Board of Regents" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a Labor Relations Board decision that grievant Jacob Carnelli, a former correctional officer who was eligible for mandatory reemployment pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA), met the minimum qualifications for a position at the Department of Motor Vehicles requiring at least two years of “office clerical experience.” The Vermont Supreme Court concluded that the Board overstepped its authority by failing to apply the minimum qualifications as established by the DMV, and therefore reversed. View "In re Grievance of Jacob Carnelli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court upholding the final agency action of the Employment Appeal Board (EAB) denying unemployment benefits, holding that substantial evidence supported the EAB's determination that Employee voluntarily quit. Employee was employed with a temporary employment agency. The agency informed Employee by phone that the workplace where she had been assigned was ending her assignment, after which Employee hung up the phone. Thereafter, Employee applied for unemployment benefits and did not attempt to resume contact with the agency for almost five weeks. In denying benefits, the EAB determined that Employee voluntarily quit her employment without good cause attributable to the employer. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the EAB's determination that Employee voluntarily quit was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) substantial evidence supported the EAB's finding that Employee did not meet the safe harbor in Iowa Code 96.5(1)(j)(1) relating specifically to temporary employees of temporary employment firms. View "Sladek v. Employment Appeal Board" on Justia Law

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Justin Herrington, a law-enforcement officer with the Columbia Police Department, was convicted of violating Mississippi Code Section 97-3-104, which prohibited sexual activity between a law-enforcement employee and an offender on correctional supervision. The trial court ordered Herrington to register as a sex offender under Mississippi Code Sections 45-33-21 through 45-33-51. The trial court then amended its order and removed Herrington’s registration requirement. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MDPS) appealed and argued that the trial court erred by removing Herrington’s requirement to register as a sex offender. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and reversed the trial court’s order dispensing with Herrington’s registration requirement. View "Mississippi Department of Public Safety v. Herrington" on Justia Law

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WPS employed Stelter as an assistant in 2002 and promoted her to sales representative in 2007. In 2010, Harings, an agency manager, expressed concern in Stelter’s performance review regarding personal appointments made during work hours. In 2013, Harings again noted appointments during work hours and Stelter’s need for better familiarity with large group insurance products. In February 2014, Stelter injured her back at work. WPS approved her request for time off. On April 17, Stelter’s doctor cleared her to return with no restrictions. In June, Harings conducted Stelter’s performance review, giving an overall rating of improvement required. To get Stelter better acquainted with selling large group insurance, Harings had Stelter visit another WPS office, about a two-hour drive from the location where Stelter worked. In September, Harings met with Stelter weekly. Harings’s notes expressed her frustration that Stelter failed to request additional training and continued leaving work for appointments without giving adequate notice. Harings recommended termination. In December, WPS terminated Stelter. Stelter sued, claiming discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She alleged she was disabled with back pain that was aggravated by a work injury, The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of WPS. Stelter was terminated for a pattern of job absenteeism and deficiency. View "Stelter v. Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against current and former members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, alleging that adverse employment actions were taken against him in retaliation for his protected First Amendment speech. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, holding that plaintiff's non-testimonial speech was not entitled to First Amendment protection. In this case, although it was undisputed that plaintiff spoke as a private citizen and his speech was of public concern, the highway patrol has shown sufficient evidence of disruption to the efficiency of its operations. Under the Pickering balancing test, the court held that the factors weighed in favor of the highway patrol's interest in efficiency and indicated that plaintiff's speech activity was more likely than not impeding his ability to perform his job duties as a police officer. Therefore, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity regarding plaintiff's speech to the family of the victim of a drowning accident, on social media, and to the news reporter. The court also held that the remaining testimonial speech was not a substantial or motivating factor in the adverse employment actions against plaintiff. Finally, plaintiff's civil conspiracy and failure to supervise claims failed as a matter of law. View "Henry v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying BHC Pinnacle Point Hospital, LLC's motion to compel arbitration of a class action complaint filed by Employees, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, holding that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their voluntary arbitration agreements with Pinnacle Pointe. In their complaint, Employees alleged that Pinnacle Point violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 et seq. Pinnacle Point filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration, asserting that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their respective alternative resolution for conflicts agreements they executed with Pinnacle Pointe. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Pinnacle Pointe's motion to compel arbitration. View "BHC Pinnacle Pointe Hospital, LLC v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Under Colorado law, employers must pay all employees time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours, with certain exemptions. Employers need not pay overtime wages to “companions, casual babysitters, and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences.” The question this case presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review was whether “companions” working for third-party employers (rather than for households or family members) fell within the companionship exemption. The Court determined they do. Accordingly, it reversed the district court’s judgment concluding otherwise. View "Jordan v. Maxim Healthcare Services" on Justia Law