Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) affirming the decision of the WCB ALJ denying Appellant's petition for review of incapacity benefits paid by Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC, through its insurer, The Hanover Insurance Group, because the statute of had expired, holding that the claim was timely.Appellant filed a petition for review of incapacity, claiming that he was entitled to total incapacity benefits. The ALJ denied the petition, concluding that the six-year statutory limitation period had expired and that Appellant's receipt of Social Security benefits did not toll the statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellant argued that the receipt of his Social Security benefits under the circumstances tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits must be treated as primary payments of workers' compensation; and (2) the "date of the most recent payment" under Me. Rev. Stat. 39-A, 306 is the date of most recent payment of offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits. View "Charest v. Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC on Plaintiff's claim brought under the Maine Whistleblowers' Protection Act (WPA), Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 831-340, holding that the superior court did not err.In granting summary judgment for Twin Rivers, the superior court concluded that Plaintiff's claim was preempted by the combined effect of section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and section 837 of the WPA. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's claim was preempted by the operation of LMRA section 301 in combination with WPA section 837. View "Nadeau v. Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the opinion of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division agreeing with the conclusion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Darla Potter, an aquaculture worker, was not a "seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. 30104, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Appellate Division affirmed the decree of the ALJ granting Potter's petitions for award of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of her employment with Cooke Aquaculture USA, Inc. At issue on appeal was whether Potter's claims fell within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law or state workers' compensation law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Potter was not a seaman within the purview of the Jones Act. View "Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division vacating the judgment of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Lorraine Somers's petition to have her benefits reinstated, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Board entered a decree permitting S.D. Warrant Company and its insurer (collectively, S.D. Warren) to discontinue paying Somers partial incapacity benefits when those payments had reached the 520-week statutory limit. Somers filed a petition to have her benefits reinstated, arguing that S.D. Warren failed to comply with Me. W.C.B. Rule, ch. 2, 5(1) (the former Rule) by not providing her with notice that she could be eligible for an extension of weekly benefits. An ALJ denied the petition. The Appellate Division vacated that decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that S.D. Warren was required to give Somers notice pursuant to the former Rule before terminating her benefits. View "Somers v. S.D. Warren Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Riverview Psychiatric Center on Plaintiff's complaint alleging a violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act, 26 Me. Rev. Stat. 831-840, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment.After Plaintiff was terminated from his employment at Riverview he filed the instant action. The superior court granted Riverview's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether Plaintiff was entitled to whistleblower protection based on complaints he made about Riverview's staffing policies, his supervisor's alleged mistreatment of another employee, and potential violation of patient confidentiality pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. View "Pushard v. Riverview Psychiatric Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered in the superior court in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint for defamation and "slander/libel per se," holding that the superior court did not err in concluding that the statements at issue were subject to a conditional privilege.Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages in her complaint alleging defamation and slander or libel per se, alleging that Defendants terminated her contract as a registered nurse based on false allegations of patient abuse. The superior court granted a summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to both counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to present prima facie evidence that Defendants abused the conditional privilege that otherwise protected the statements at issue; and (2) therefore, Defendants were entitled to summary judgment in their favor as to Plaintiff's claims. View "Waugh v. Genesis Healthcare LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered in favor of Defendant by the superior court on Plaintiff's claims of a hostile work environment and gender discrimination prohibited by the Maine Human Rights Act and unlawful retaliation in violation of the Maine Whistleblower's Protection Act, holding that the superior court did not err by granting a summary judgment in favor of Defendant on all of Plaintiff's claims of discrimination in the workplace.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the superior court did not err when it concluded that Plaintiff failed to present evidence that he had been subjected to a hostile work environment arising from sexual harassment, that he was terminated from his employment in retaliation for complaints he had made about other employees, and that he was the victim of gender-based discrimination. View "Johnson v. York Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Spurwink Services, Inc. on the claim filed by Sydney and Patricia TerMorshuizen for overtime pay pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 664, holding that interruptions to "sleep time" are not compensable under section 664.The TerMorshuizens worked as a therapeutic couple at Spurwink's day and residential treatment program for children and adolescents with significant emotional and behavioral needs. The TerMorshuizens, who lived in the residence with the children, brought suit seeking overtime wages, arguing that, while Spurwink paid them for sleep time interruptions, they were entitled to payment for other client interruptions that prevented them from sleeping, regardless of whether those interruptions actually required direct client interaction. The trial court granted summary judgment for Spurwink on the grounds that Spurwink's sleep time compensation policy was in compliance with federal law and was reasonable as a matter of law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err in (1) applying section 29 C.F.R. 785.23 to determine whether sleep time constitutes compensable work time; and (2) determining that Spurwink's sleep time policy was reasonable as a matter of law. View "TerMorshuizen v. Spurwink Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of the Town of Denmark on Plaintiff's claim that the Town violated Maine's Whistleblowers' Protection Act (WPA), Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 831-40, by suspending Plaintiff after he engaged in what he alleged was WPA-protected activity, holding that the Town's actions were not unlawful.The trial court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiff had not engaged in WPA-protected activity, a necessary element to succeed in a WPA claim. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) a dispute over the interpretation of an employment contract, without more, does not constitute a report of illegal activity; and (2) even if Plaintiff subjectively believed that the Town's action violated Maine law or the Town's charter, his subject belief alone was insufficient to meet the WPA's "reasonable cause" requirement. View "Lee v. Town of Denmark" on Justia Law

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After correcting one aspect of the judgment, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint stemming from a hospital’s decision not to employ her, holding that the superior court correctly granted the hospital's and a physician's separate motions to dismiss the complaint for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted because some counts failed due to the absolute immunity provisions of the Maine Health Security Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2501-2988, and other counts were legally insufficient.Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against a physician and a hospital, asserting various claims. The superior court dismissed the counts against the physician, determining he was entitled to immunity pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2511, and dismissed the claims against the hospital for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the superior court correctly dismissed all claims against the physician because he was immune from civil liability, but the judgment dismissing the claims against the physician for defamation, slander per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress was corrected as dismissals with prejudice. View "Argereow v. Weisberg" on Justia Law