Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's petition for judicial review of an administrative decision by the director of the Arkansas State Police, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that the petition was barred by the State's sovereign immunity from suit. Appellant, a California resident, submitted an application to the state police to become licensed as a private investigator in Arkansas. The application was denied, and Appellant filed an administrative appeal. Colonel William J. Bryant, in his capacity as the director of the state police, found that Appellant was ineligible to receive a license due to his prior convictions. The circuit court concluded that Appellant's petition for judicial review was barred by the State's sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State's sovereign immunity from suit did not apply to this proceeding. View "Hackie v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court denying the motion to dismiss filed by Jimmy Banks, Warden of the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), as to Sharon Jones's complaint alleging that she had been terminated from her employment at the Varner Unit due to racial and gender discrimination, holding that Jones failed to state factual allegations that alleged a deprivation of any constitutional right. In her complaint, Jones, an African American woman, alleged that she was subjected to unlawful racial and gender discrimination because she was discharged under circumstances that similarly situated white or male employees were not. Banks filed a motion to dismiss based on constitutional sovereign immunity, qualified immunity, and statutory immunity. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Banks was entitled to qualified immunity under Jones's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims and statutory immunity against her state law claims. View "Banks v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss a claim brought under the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act (AWBA) and dismissed the complaint, holding that the complaint was barred by the State's sovereign immunity. Plaintiff, who had worked in the office of the Arkansas Treasurer of State before he was terminated, filed a complaint against Defendant, the treasurer, in his official capacity, alleging a violation of the AWBA. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the complaint was barred by sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) pursuant to the Court's decision in Arkansas Community Correction v. Barnes, 542 S.W.3d 841 (Ark. 2018), the purported legislative waiver of the State's sovereign immunity in the AWBA is unconstitutional; and (2) the complaint in this case was barred by sovereign immunity. View "Milligan v. Singer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission adopting the finding of an administrative law judge (ALJ) that Appellant's additional benefits claim was barred by the statute of limitations, holding that the Commission did not err in finding that Appellant's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. After a hearing, the ALJ found that Appellant's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ's findings. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the statute of limitations had tolled. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the Commission's finding, holding that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Farris v. Express Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the circuit court's order certifying a class action lawsuit filed by Employees against Employer, the Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions to enter an order that complies with Ark. R. Civ. P. 23, holding that the order must reflect the circuit court's analysis to determine whether the Rule 23 requirements have been met. Employees filed this suit pursuant to the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 et seq., for unpaid overtime. After filing their complaint Employees moved to certify a class of individuals who were, are, or will be employed by Employer as hourly paid employees. The circuit court granted Employees' motion for class certification. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions, holding that, in conformity with Industrial Welding Supplies of Hattiesburg, LLC v. Pinson, 530 S.W.3d 854 (Ark. 2017), the class certification order was deficient. View "Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case to the Workers’ Compensation Commission for further proceedings, holding that the evidence indicating that Deputy Cleon Morgan was an independent contractor and, therefore, there was not substantial evidence to support the Commission’s decision that Morgan was an employee at the time of his injury. The Commission found that, at the time of his injury, Deputy Morgan had two employers, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Brookshire Grocery Company. The Commission concluded that both were liable for Deputy Morgan’s workers’ compensation benefits as “joint employers.” Brookshire appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s decision, holding that where all the factors that are to be considered in determining if Deputy Morgan was an employee or an independent contractor indicate that Deputy Morgan was an independent contractor, the case must be remanded for further proceedings for a determination as to whether Brookshire was indeed liable for workers’ compensation benefits. View "Brookshire Grocery Co. v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) appealing the circuit court’s denial of its motion to dismiss a complaint alleging violations of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA) based on sovereign immunity. Appellees, former employees of the ADVA, brought this complaint alleging that ADVA failed to compensate them for working overtime in violation of the AMWA. ADVA filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that AMWA’s abrogation of sovereign immunity violates Ark. Const. art. V, 20. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s denial of ADVA’s motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity, holding that Board of Trustees of University of Arkansas v. Andrews, 535 S.W.3d 616 (Ark. 2018), in which the Court struck the provision of the AMWA that provided this action could be brought against the state, controlled. View "Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs v. Mallett" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed an order of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that it was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, Arkansas Community Correction (ACC), terminated her in violation of the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act (AWBA). Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings on the grounds that it was an agency of the State and that the General Assembly could not validly waive the State’s sovereign immunity under the AWBA. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that to the extent the legislature subjected the State to liability in the AWBA, it was prohibited by Ark. Const. art. V, 20. View "Arkansas Community Correction v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and affirmed as modified in part the decision of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission awarding benefits to Employee for injuries that arose out of and in the course and scope of Employee’s employment with Employer. As pertinent to this appeal, the Commission found (1) Employee was entitled to a permanent anatomical-impairment rating of twenty-nine percent for his brain injury and twenty-four percent for his left-eye injury, both to the body as a whole; and (2) Employee was not entitled to benefits based on a permanent anatomical-impairment rating based on pain. Employer appealed, and Employee cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission’s decision that Employee was entitled to a permanent anatomical-impairment rating of twenty-nine percent for his brain injury to the body as a whole for his brain injury was supported by substantial evidence; (2) the Commission’s finding of 100 percent impairment to Employee’s left eye was proper, but the award is modified to reflect that it is a scheduled injury; (3) the Commission’s decision denying twenty-four percent whole-body impairment rating for cranial nerve V and trigeminal nerve damage was supported by substantial evidence. View "Multi-Craft Contractors, Inc. v. Yousey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and affirmed as modified in part the decision of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission awarding benefits to Employee for injuries that arose out of and in the course and scope of Employee’s employment with Employer. As pertinent to this appeal, the Commission found (1) Employee was entitled to a permanent anatomical-impairment rating of twenty-nine percent for his brain injury and twenty-four percent for his left-eye injury, both to the body as a whole; and (2) Employee was not entitled to benefits based on a permanent anatomical-impairment rating based on pain. Employer appealed, and Employee cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission’s decision that Employee was entitled to a permanent anatomical-impairment rating of twenty-nine percent for his brain injury to the body as a whole for his brain injury was supported by substantial evidence; (2) the Commission’s finding of 100 percent impairment to Employee’s left eye was proper, but the award is modified to reflect that it is a scheduled injury; (3) the Commission’s decision denying twenty-four percent whole-body impairment rating for cranial nerve V and trigeminal nerve damage was supported by substantial evidence. View "Multi-Craft Contractors, Inc. v. Yousey" on Justia Law