Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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Retirement status alone, in and of itself, is not dispositive to determining disability under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the Benefit Review Board's decision denying claimant disability benefits under the Act. The panel interpreted the language of 33 U.S.C 902(10) defining "disability," and held that claimant's decision to retire early did not prevent him from receiving permanent total disability benefits. In this case, substantial evidence supported the ALJ's findings that claimant was disabled within the meaning of the Act and that he has attained maximum medical improvement, no longer being able to return to work. Therefore, the panel reversed and remanded for a calculation of the permanent total disability benefits to be awarded to claimant. View "Christie v. Georgia-Pacific Co." on Justia Law

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The en banc court held that the Railway Labor Act did not preempt a worker's claim premised on a state law right to reschedule vacation leave for family medical purposes, when the worker's underlying right to vacation leave was covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The court also held that the Act did not preempt the worker's claim because the claim neither arose entirely from nor required construction of the CBA. Furthermore, that the CBA must be consulted to confirm the existence of accrued vacation days was not sufficient to extinguish the worker's independent state law right to use the accrued time to care for a sick child. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "Alaska Airlines v. Schurke" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted Frimmel's petition for review of the ALJ's final decision and order declining to suppress employment records ICE obtained through an investigation of Frimmel's compliance with employment verification requirements. ICE had initiated an investigation of Frimmel after the Maricopa Sheriff's Office (MCSO) conducted illegal raids of two restaurants and the home of Bret Frimmel, owner of Frimmel. The panel held that MCSO committed knowing or reckless material omissions and distortions in search warrant affidavits that resulted in a search violating the Fourth Amendment, and the violation was egregious because a reasonable officer should have known the conduct was unconstitutional. The panel also held that ICE's investigation was not attenuated from MCSO's illegal raid and ICE's evidence was the fruit of MCSO's illegal raid. Finally, the panel held that MCSO's conduct easily met the flagrancy standards and it had immigration enforcement in its "zone of primary interest." Therefore, the exclusionary rule would serve to deter MCSO from Fourth Amendment violations by the probability that illegally obtained evidence would not be useful to ICE, even in a civil proceeding. The panel reversed the ALJ's ruling that denied suppression of ICE's evidence pursuant to the exclusionary rule, remanding for further proceedings. View "Frimmel Management, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Taco Bell in a putative class action alleging that employees should be compensated under California law for the time spent on the company's premises eating discounted meals during meal breaks. As a preliminary matter, the panel held that plaintiff's dismissal with prejudice created a valid final judgment for purposes of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. On the merits, the panel held that Taco Bell did not violate California Wage Order 5–2001, because the employees were free to use the thirty minutes in any way they wished, subject only to the restriction that if they purchased a discounted meal, they had to eat it in the restaurant. The panel held that Taco Bell’s meal policy satisfied the standard set forth in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 273 P.3d 513 (Cal. 2012), because the company relieved employees of all duty and relinquished control over their activities. Even assuming the regular rate claim was not completely derivative of plaintiff's meal break claim and referred to overtime hours worked apart from meal breaks, and even assuming further that the value of the meal could be considered part of her compensation, she has not established that value. View "Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed a preliminary injunction pursuant to Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), requiring the employer to engage in unconditional bargaining. The panel held that the Director has shown a sufficient likelihood of success in establishing a withdrawal of recognition and refusal to bargain unconditionally, as well as a continuing threat of irreparable harm to the union's collective bargaining rights, to support the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief. In this case the record did not show that the employer had considerable dealings with the union following the union's certification, including discussions that resulted in agreements over some hours and working conditions, and that these negotiations took place before the employer made any official challenge to the certification. View "Coffman v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction an action brought under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), alleging that a union engaged in intentional and negligent misrepresentation to induce it to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. The panel held that section 301(a) of the LMRA grants jurisdiction only for suits that claim a violation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which the employer in this case, Nu Image, did not do. The panel concluded that the holding in Rozay's Transfer v. Local Freight Drivers, Local 208, Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers of Am., 850 F.2d 1321 (9th Cir. 1988), that an employer can sue under section 301(a) for declaratory relief to void a provision of a CBA without alleging a contract violation, could not stand following Textron Lycoming Reciprocating Engine Div., Avco Corp. v. United Auto., Aerospace, & Agric. Implement Workers of Am., 523 U.S. 653 (1998). View "Nu Image, Inc. v. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order affirming an arbitration award for the union. ASARCO argued that the award was invalid because the arbitrator reformed the Basic Labor Agreement (BLA) between the union and ASARCO in contravention of a no-add provision in that agreement. The district court affirmed the award, holding that ASARCO properly preserved its objection to the arbitrator's jurisdiction, but the arbitrator was authorized to reform the BLA, despite the no-add provision, based on a finding of mutual mistake. The panel affirmed, holding that the arbitrator was acting within his authority when he crafted a remedy to cure the parties' mutual mistake. Even if ASARCO did not waive its right to contest the arbitrator's jurisdiction, which it did, the panel deferred to the arbitrator's judgment. View "ASARCO, LLC v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action alleging employment discrimination claims. The panel held that plaintiff, a teacher, failed to establish a prima facia case of disparate treatment based on her sex and race under Title VII because she did not show that she was subject to an adverse employment action or that similarly situated individuals outside her protected class were treated more favorably; plaintiff's hostile work environment claim failed because the few isolated and relatively mild comments that plaintiff alleged were not sufficient to show a severe and pervasive environment that altered the terms or conditions of her employment; plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because plaintiff did not establish that defendants' asserted rationale for its actions was mere pretext; and plaintiff's Title IX claims for intentional discrimination failed for essentially the same reasons that her Title VII claims failed. View "Campbell v. Hawaii Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging Ordinance 124968, which permits independent-contractor drivers, represented by an entity denominated an "exclusive driver representative," and driver coordinators to agree on the "nature and amount of payments to be made by, or withheld from, the driver coordinator to or by the drivers." The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's federal antitrust claims because the ordinance sanctions price-fixing of ride-referral service fees by private cartels of independent-contractor drivers. The panel held that the State-action immunity doctrine did not exempt the ordinance from preemption by the Sherman Act because the State of Washington had not clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed a state policy authorizing private parties to price-fix the fees that for-hire drivers pay to companies like Uber or Lyft in exchange for ride-referral services. Furthermore, the active-supervision requirement for state-action immunity applied, and was not met. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's National Labor Relations Act preemption claims. View "U.S. Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Seattle" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following questions of state law to the Supreme Court of California: (1) Wage Order 9 exempts from its wage statement requirements an employee who has entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in accordance with the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Does the RLA exemption in Wage Order 9 bar a wage statement claim brought under California Labor Code 226 by an employee who is covered by a CBA? (2) Does California Labor Code 226 apply to wage statements provided by an out-of-state employer to an employee who resides in California, receives pay in California, and pays California income tax on her wages, but who does not work principally in California or any other state? View "Ward v. United Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law