Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
by
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding Claimant's award for loss of post-accident earnings, holding that because the Board departed from its administrative precedent without explanation, the case must be remitted so the Board may clarify its rationale and issue a decision in accordance with Matter of Zamora v. New York Neurologic Association, 19 NY3d 186 (N.Y. 2012). On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board's decision was inappropriate because, at the time of her disability classification, Claimant failed to establish that she attempted to and could not find work commensurate with her abilities. Before the Court of Appeals the Board admitted that it departed from its purported precedent by applying a discretionary inference in favor of Claimant as permitted by Zamora without first requiring Claimant to present evidence of her efforts to obtain work or get retrained. The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to the Board to permit the Board to develop a record of its purported precedent as applied to Claimant and clarify its determination whether to draw an inference in accordance with Zamora's core holding. View "O'Donnell v. Erie County" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that Claimant, a former courier with Postmates, Inc., and others similarly situated are employees for whom Postmates is required to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the Board's finding that the couriers were employees. In reversing the Board's determination, the Appellate Division concluded that the proof did not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it failed to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates' control over the means by which the couriers performed their work. The Court of Appeals revered, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors. View "In re Vega" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals upheld a determination of the Comptroller's Office that a Port Authority compensation adjustment program artificially enhanced certain employees' final average salaries so as to increase their retirement benefits, holding that substantial evidence supported the Comptroller's determination. The Comptroller concluded that the payments made pursuant to the compensation adjustment program were not pensionable compensation under N.Y. Retire. & Soc. Sec. Law 431(3), which provides that "any additional compensation paid in anticipation of retirement" must be excluded from final average salary calculations. Petitioner employees commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding challenging the determination of the Comptroller's Office. The Appellate Division annulled the Comptroller's determination and granted the petition, concluding that the payments did not artificially inflate Petitioners' final average salary in anticipation of retirement. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Comptroller's determination that the Port Authority's compensation adjustment program constituted "additional compensation paid in anticipation of retirement." View "Bohlen v. DiNapoli" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division confirming the determination of Respondents New York State Comptroller and New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System that Petitioner was not entitled to performance-of-duty disability retirement benefits under the circumstances of this case, holding that Petitioner's injuries were sustained by "any act of any inmate" within the meaning of N.Y. Retire. & Soc. Sec. Law 607-c(a). An inmate accidentally fell on Petitioner, a correction officer, while Petitioner was attempting to remove the inmate from a van. Petitioner applied for benefits under section 607-c(a). Respondents denied the application, concluding that the alleged cause of disability was not the result of an act of any inmate within the meaning of the statute. The Appellate Division agreed with Respondents, concluding that Petitioner's injuries did not arise directly and proximately from any disobedient and affirmative act of the inmate. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Appellate Division erred in restricting the word "act" in section 607-c(a) to "volitional or disobedient" acts; (2) the word "act" broadly includes voluntary and involuntary conduct; and (3) Petitioner's injuries were sustained by "any act of any inmate" in this case. View "Walsh v. New York State Comptroller" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court holding that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) violated section 71 of the Civil Service Law by refusing to reinstate Petitioner to her labor class caretaker position after terminating her, holding that Petitioner did not fall with the ambit of N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 71, a provision governing reinstatement of public sector employees injured on the job. Petitioner's petition fell within the "labor class" - one of four classifications under New York's Civil Service Law - which includes "all unskilled laborers" in the State's service. NYCHA terminated Petitioner after she missed more than one year of work due to a disability. Petitioner requested reinstatement, but NYCHA refused. Petitioner then filed this action. Supreme Court granted the petition as against NYCHA, concluding that the plain language of section 71 did not exclude labor class employees. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that NYCHA did not violate section 71 when it refused to reinstate Petitioner. View "Jordan v. New York City Housing Authority" on Justia Law

by
In these joint appeals from putative class actions, the Supreme Court reversed the orders of the Appellate Division rejecting the New York State Department of Labor's (DOL) interpretation of the DOL's Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations Minimum Wage Order (Wage Order), holding that DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order did not conflict with the promulgated language, nor did DOL adopt on irrational or unreasonable construction. Under the Wage Order, an employer must pay its home health care aid employees for each hour of a twenty-four-hour shift. At issue in this case was DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order to require payment for at least thirteen hours of a twenty-four-hour shift if the employee is allowed a sleep break of at least eight hours and actually receives five hours of uninterrupted sleep and three hours of meal break time. Supreme Court refused to adopt DOL's interpretation and determined that class certification was appropriate. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that DOL's interpretation was neither rational nor reasonable because it conflicted with the plain language of the Wage Order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division failed to afford adequate deference to DOL's interpretation of the Wage Order. View "Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board that Claimant was entitled to 275 weeks of additional compensation due to an arm he received during the course of his employment under Workers’ Compensation Law WCL 15(3)(v) (paragraph v), holding that awards for additional compensation are not subject to the durational limits contained in WCL 15(3)(w) (paragraph w). Paragraph v permits certain permanently partially disabled workers who have exhausted their schedule awards to apply for additional compensation. Claimant did just that and was awarded additional compensation. On appeal, Claimant argued that paragraph v incorporates only paragraph w’s formula for calculating the weekly payment amount and not paragraph w’s durational component setting forth the number of weeks that sum is paid. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed, holding that under the plain language of paragraph v, additional compensation awards are calculated pursuant to the formula and durational provisions of paragraph w. View "Mancini v. Services" on Justia Law

by
In this case concerning the interpretation of New York’s constitutional prevailing wage requirement, the Court of Appeals upheld the New York State Department of Labor’s statute-based policy limiting the payment of apprentice wages on public work projects to apprentices who are performing tasks within the respective trade classifications of the approved apprenticeship programs in which they are enrolled, holding that the Department’s interpretation of the relevant statute was rational. Plaintiffs brought this declaratory judgment action asserting that the Department’s interpretation of N.Y. Labor Law 220(3-3) violates the plain meaning of the law and that the statute permits contractors on public works to pay apprentices the posted apprentice rates provided that they are registered in any Department-certified apprenticeship program. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that the Department’s analysis was an arbitrary and irrational interpretation of the statute. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Department’s interpretation of the statute was eminently reasonable. View "International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, District Council No. 4 v. New York State Department of Labor" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the conclusion of the courts below that the finding of the Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board that Petitioner’s conduct was not “proper” within the meaning of N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-1 was rational. Petitioner, a Nassau County police officer, commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding seeking a judgment annulling the determination of the Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board revoking a prior defense and indemnification determination in favor of Petitioner. At issue was whether Petitioner’s conduct was “proper” under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-1, which provides for defense and indemnification of Nassau County police officers in civil actions arising out of “a negligent act or other tort of such police officer committed while in the proper discharge” of the officer’s duties and within the scope of the officer’s employment. Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition, concluding that the Board rationally concluded that Petitioner’s conduct was not proper. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Board’s determination that Petitioner’s conduct was not in the “proper discharge of his duties” was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Lemma v. Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board" on Justia Law

by
A court must offset a retired New York City police officer’s projected accident disability retirement (ADR) benefits against the injured retiree’s jury award for both future lost earnings and pension. Plaintiff, a retired police officer who was injured on duty, filed a personal injury action against Defendants. The jury found Defendants responsible for the accident and awarded Plaintiff a set amount for past and future lost earnings and future loss of pension. Defendants moved to offset the jury award pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 4545, which permits a court to find that certain awarded damages will, with a reasonable certainty, be replaced or indemnified from a collateral source. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division granted Defendants’ motion to offset the award for future pension benefits by the total amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits and otherwise affirmed Supreme Court’s denial of an offset for Plaintiff’s future lost earnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) the Appellate Division erred in holding that ADR benefits could not be offset against lost earnings and incorrectly applied the entire amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits against the future lost pension; and (2) therefore, recalculation of the offset to future lost earnings and pension is warranted. View "Andino v. Mills" on Justia Law