Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals held in these consolidated appeals that liability for the death benefits claims at issue could not be transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (the Special Fund).At issue in these appeals was whether New York Workers' Compensation Law 25-a(1-a), under which no liability for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2014 may be transferred to the Special Fund, forecloses the transfer of liability for a death benefits claim submitted on or after the cut-off date, regardless of the prior transfer of liability for a worker's disability claim arising out of the same injury. The Court of Appeals held that, based on the plain statutory language and this Court's established precedent, liability for the death benefits claims at issue in these cases could not be transferred to the Special Fund. View "Verneau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the appellate division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, his former employers, violated the antidiscrimination statutes by denying his application for employment following the completion of his criminal sentence. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff adequately alleged a violation of the antidiscrimination statutes. View "Sassi v. Mobile Life Support Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, under NY City Civ Ct Act 1808, small claims judgments do not have collateral estoppel or issue preclusive effect but that such judgments may have the traditional res judicator or claim preclusive effect in a subsequent action involving a claim between the same parties arising out of the same transaction at issue in a prior small claims court action.Plaintiff brought an action against her former employer in a small claims part of Civil Court seeking damages arising out of the alleged nonpayment of wages. After Defendant satisfied the small claims judgment, Plaintiff commenced this action in the federal district court seeking additional damages based on Defendant's failure to pay her overtime wages. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the federal litigation was barred under the doctrine of claim preclusion. In response, Plaintiff argued that NY City Civ Ct Act 1808 rendered small claim preclusion inapplicable to small claims judgments unless the subsequent action raised precisely the same claim or theory as the earlier action. The district court rejected Plaintiff's argument but certified a question to the Court of Appeals asking for an interpretation of section 1808. The Court of Appeals answered the question as set forth above. View "Simmons v. Trans Express Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division holding that recovery of a claimant's schedule loss of use (SLU) award by his estate is limited to the portion of the award that would have been due to the claimant for the period prior to the claimant's death, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.Claimant in this case died from a cause unrelated to his workplace injury during the pendency of his claim for permanent partial disability benefits. The Court of Appeals held that Claimant's estate was not entitled to a lump sum payment of a posthumous schedule loss of use award issued to Claimant pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Law, holding that the estate may recover only reasonable funeral expenses and the portion of the SLU award that would have been due to Claimant before death. View "Estate of Youngjohn v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that sought to hold Michael Bloomberg vicariously liable for Nicholas Ferris's offending conduct, holding that Bloomberg was not an "employer" within the meaning of the New York City Human Rights Law (City HRL).Plaintiff brought this action against her employer Bloomberg L.P., her supervisor Ferris, and Michael Bloomberg, bringing several claims arising from her alleged discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. At issue was whether Bloomberg, in addition to Bloomberg L.P., could be held vicariously liable based on his status as owner and officer of the company. Supreme Court denied Bloomberg's motion to dismiss. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the causes of action against Bloomberg. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege that Bloomberg was her employer for purposes of liability under the City HRL. View "Doe v. Bloomberg, L.P." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division and reinstated Supreme Court's judgment declaring that Defendants violated the second subdivision (h) of Administrative Code of the City of New York 13-218 by excluding police officers in tier 3 of the state retirement system from the retirement benefits conferred by that subdivision reinstated, holding that the relevant part of section 13-218 rendered those officers eligible for credit for certain periods of unpaid childcare leave.At issue was the policy of the City of New York that tier 3 officers are not eligible for certain benefits available to officers in tier 2 of the New York City Police Pension Fund retirement plan, including the mechanism that allows police officers to obtain credit for certain periods of absence without pay for childcare leave. Supreme Court awarded Plaintiffs judgment, declaring that affected police officers were entitled to the childcare leave benefit. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 13-218 renders officers of the New York City Police Department who are members of the tier 3 retirement system are eligible for credit for periods of unpaid childcare leave and that the grant of such benefits for those officers is consistent with the Retirement and Social Security Law. View "Lynch v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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