Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Maine Supreme Court
Dep’t of Prof’l & Fin. Regulation v. State Employees Ass’n
Michael Nadeau, an employee with the Bureau of Insurance, married a manager of a Bureau-regulated entity. The Bureau subsequently discharged Nadeau on the basis that his continued employment at the Bureau while married to a manager of a Bureau-regulated entity violated Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 209(1). Nadeau initiated the grievance process manadated by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). After an arbitration hearing, the arbitrator concluded that the Bureau violated the CBA by discharging Nadeau without just cause and ordered his reinstatement. The Bureau petitioned the superior court seeking to vacate the arbitration award, contending that the award of reinstatement required the Bureau to violate section 209(1), which prohibits the Bureau from employing persons "connected with the management" of Bureau-regulated entities. The superior court reported the case to the Supreme Court. The Court declined to answer the reported question regarding the interpretation of section 209 after finding that the arbitration award did not violate public policy, the arbitrator did not exceed his powers, and the award was not subject to further judicial scrutiny on that basis. Remanded for entry of a judgment confirming the arbitration award. View "Dep't of Prof'l & Fin. Regulation v. State Employees Ass'n" on Justia Law
Dinan v. Alpha Networks Inc.
Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a salesperson in 2005. Defendant resigned from his employment in 2010 and signed a separation agreement before his departure. Defendant initially paid Plaintiff pursuant to the separation agreement but then claimed it had paid Plaintiff more than it agreed to and stopped payment on two of the checks it had issued. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant for breach of contract, breach of quasi-contract, and unjust enrichment. A federal jury found that Defendant had breached its separation agreement with Plaintiff and that Plaintiff was entitled to $70,331 in quantum meruit damages from Defendant. After the jury verdict, Plaintiff moved the federal court to conclude that the the quantum meruit damages were "wages" within the meaning of 26 Me. Rev. Stat. 626. The federal court then certified a question to the Maine Supreme Court, which answered by holding (1) whether a quantum meruit recovery activates the penalty provision of section 626 depends on the services rendered; (2) if the services rendered are of the type for which an employee would have been due wages, then application of section 626 to a recovery in quantum meruit is appropriate; and (3) if not, section 626 would not apply. View "Dinan v. Alpha Networks Inc." on Justia Law
Savage v. Me. Pretrial Servs., Inc.
During her employment with Employer, Appellant applied to open a registered medical marijuana dispensary. Appellant was later terminated from her employment. Appellant filed a complaint against Employer, alleging in count I of her complaint that her termination was a violation of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act (Act). Appellant argued that her application for a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary was authorized conduct within the meaning of the Act and her subsequent termination was thus a penalty prohibited by the Act. The superior court granted Employer's motion to dismiss with respect to several counts, including count I. The parties later stipulated to the dismissal of the remaining counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Act does not create a private right of action against private employers, but rather, protects against prosecution and penalties by governmental regulatory entities. View "Savage v. Me. Pretrial Servs., Inc." on Justia Law
Fuhrmann v. Staples the Office Superstore E., Inc.
Employee filed this action against Employer and her four individual supervisors (Supervisors), claiming whistleblower discrimination pursuant to the Whistleblowers' Protection Act (WPA) and the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) and sex discrimination pursuant to the MHRA. The superior court granted Supervisors' motion to dismiss, finding they could not be held individually liable pursuant to the WPA and the MHRA. The court then entered summary judgment in favor of Employer on all claims. Employee appealed, contending (1) summary judgment for Employer was improper because she presented a prima facie case of whistleblower discrimination and there remained material facts in dispute, and (2) the dismissal of her claims against Supervisors was improper. The Supreme Court affirmed with respect to the sex discrimination claim and the dismissal of Supervisors but vacated the judgment with respect to the whistleblower discrimination claim against Employer, holding (1) material facts remained in dispute regarding Employee's whistleblower claim; but (2) the WPA and MHRA do not provide for individual supervisor liability. View "Fuhrmann v. Staples the Office Superstore E., Inc." on Justia Law
Graves v. Brockway-Smith Co.
Brockway-Smith Company and MMTA Workers' Compensation Trust appealed from a decision of a Workers' Compensation Board hearing officer awarding incapacity benefits to Richard Graves for a 2003 work-related injury to his left shoulder. Brockway-Smith contended that Graves's claim for the 2003 injury was barred for failure to file it within the six-year limitations period in 39-A Me. Rev. Stat. The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether that six-year period was tolled until the employer filed a first report of injury with the Workers' Compensation Board, even though at the time of the injury the employer was not required to file a first report pursuant to 39-A Me. Rev. Stat, 303. The Supreme Court affirmed the hearing officer's decision, holding that the limitations period did not begin to run until the first report was filed. View "Graves v. Brockway-Smith Co." on Justia Law
Budge v. Town of Millinocket
Norman Budge and twenty-eight additional parties (collectively, Employees) filed a complaint for review of government action for the Town of Millinocket's (Town) amendments to its personnel policy originally adopted as a town ordinance. In the most recent amendment, the Town reduced its obligation for paying for the health insurance plan for its employees and established a new policy for the health insurance offered to retirees that resulted in the Town reducing its payment of the retirees' premiums. Employees alleged that, regardless of the policy language, this reduction was inconsistent with promises made to them either when they were hired or during their tenure with the Town. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the personnel policy did not create an enforceable contract between the Town and its employees; (2) the Town was not bound to pay Employees' retirement group hospitalization and life insurance premiums by virtue of promissory estoppel; and (3) the Town's reduction in benefits did not result in an unconstitutional taking. View "Budge v. Town of Millinocket" on Justia Law
Levesque v. Androscoggin County
Plaintiff filed a complaint against her former employer, Adroscoggin County, alleging gender discrimination, constructive discharge, and retaliation. The superior court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the County dismissing the counts of constructive discharge and gender discrimination. The retaliation claim proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict for the County. Plaintiff subsequently appealed from the partial summary judgment dismissing the constructive discharge claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) notwithstanding its application in the labor and discrimination contexts, constructive discharge does not exist as an independent cause of action under Maine statutory or common law; and (2) because Plaintiff did not challenge the summary judgment denying her claim for gender discrimination or the judgment entered on the jury's verdict denying her claim for retaliatory discrimination, nor did Plaintiff allege that the actions giving rise to her alleged constructive discharge from employment were themselves a form of unlawful discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act, Plaintiff's claim for constructive discharge failed. View "Levesque v. Androscoggin County" on Justia Law
Hayden-Tidd v. Cliff House & Motels, Inc.
The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether a resort violated the requirement to pay its employees the minimum wage when it paid wait staff a portion of the standard "service charge" that it added to its banquet customers' bills and treated that portion as a "tip" that satisfied the minimum wage law by qualifying the resort for a tip credit. Allison Hayden-Tidd appealed the superior court's grant of summary judgment to The Cliff House & Motels, Inc. and the denial of her cross-motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Hayden-Tidd contended that the court erred when it rejected her argument that the wage laws required Cliff House to treat its entire banquet staff service charge as a "tip" to be paid to the banquet servers for purposes of the tip credit statute. The Supreme Court agreed that Cliff House's compensation arrangement with its banquet servers did not violate the tip credit statute, and therefore was not a violation of the minimum wage law. View "Hayden-Tidd v. Cliff House & Motels, Inc." on Justia Law
Buckley v. S.D. Warren Co.
William Buckley appealed a decision of a Workers' Compensation Board hearing officer on remand from the Supreme Court. Buckley contended that, when determining whether his permanent impairment level was above the threshold for receiving partial incapacity benefits for the duration of his incapacity, the hearing officer misinterpreted the Court's mandate by failing to combine or "stack" the percentages of permanent impairment attributable to all of his work injuries. Furthermore, Buckley asserted that the hearing officer's finding that he suffered 0% permanent impairment from a 2001 injury is inconsistent with a finding in the prior decree that he suffered 7% permanent impairment for that injury. Upon review, the Supreme Court found no error and affirmed the hearing officer's decision. View "Buckley v. S.D. Warren Co." on Justia Law
Goodrich v. Maine Public Employees Retirement System
Maine Public Employees Retirement System (the System) appealed a superior court judgment reversing a decision of the System’s Board of Trustees that denied Petitioner Ellen Goodrich basic life insurance coverage under the group life insurance plan administered by the System. Upon review of the record, the Supreme Court vacated the Superior Court's judgment in part and remanded the case for entry of a judgment: (1) vacating the decision of the Board; and (2) remanding to the Board with instructions to provide Goodrich with prospective basic life insurance coverage after she paid back premiums accrued to date.