Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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In these related appeals brought under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), at issue was whether the district court properly compelled arbitration of plaintiff's claims for whistleblowing retaliation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed as to the retaliation claim against plaintiff's employer, American Airlines, holding that the Airline did not waive its right to arbitrate by waiting to move to compel until after an agency investigation into its conduct was complete, nor was there reason to believe private AIR21 retaliation claims were inherently nonarbitrable. The panel reversed as to the retaliation claim against the Union, holding that the Union was not a party to the arbitration provision at issue in these cases and was not otherwise entitled to enforce the provision. View "American Airlines, Inc. v. Mawhinney" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a California statute, Cal. Lab. Code 1720.9, that amended the prevailing wage laws to ensure that delivery drivers of ready-mix concrete are paid a minimum wage. The district court denied IBT's motion to intervene and granted the State's motion to dismiss the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) claim. The district court granted plaintiffs summary judgment on the equal protection claim. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs and held that the district court wrongly disregarded as irrelevant certain differences between ready-mix drivers and other drivers that the legislature could have relied on in extending the prevailing wage law. The panel reversed the district court's denial of IBT's motion for leave to intervene and held that IBT had a significantly protectable interest in the case. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FAAAA claim, holding that the prevailing wage law was not related to prices, routes, and services within the meaning of the FAAAA's preemption clause. View "Allied Concrete and Supply Co. v. Baker" on Justia Law

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The en banc court reversed the district courts' dismissals of actions concerning tip credits toward servers' and bartenders' wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Plaintiffs alleged that their employers abused the tip credit provision by paying them a reduced tip credit wage and treating them as tipped employees when they were engaged in either (1) non-tipped tasks unrelated to serving and bartending; or (2) non-incidental tasks related to serving or bartending. The court held that the Department of Labor foreclosed an employer's ability to engage in this practice by promulgating a dual jobs regulation, 29 C.F.R. 531.56(e), and subsequently interpreting that regulation in its 1988 Field Operations Handbook (the Guidance). The en banc court held that the regulation was entitled to Chevron deference; and the agency's interpretation in the Guidance was entitled to Auer deference because the regulation was ambiguous and the Guidance's interpretation was both reasonable and consistent with the regulation. The en banc court reversed and remanded, holding that plaintiffs have stated a claim under the FLSA for minimum wage violations. View "Marsh v. J. Alexander's LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Washington Supreme Court: Under what circumstances, if any, does obesity qualify as an "impairment" under the Washington Law against Discrimination, Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.040? View "Taylor v. Burlington Northern Railroad Holdings Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decertification of two related collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by LAPD officers, alleging a pervasive, unwritten policy discouraging the reporting of overtime. The panel held that the officers can appeal a decertification order when they were dismissed from the collective action before final judgment and without prejudice to their individual FLSA claims. The panel held that opt-in plaintiffs are parties to the collective action, and an order of decertification and dismissal disposes of their statutory right to proceed collectively. Therefore, they have standing to appeal and may do so after the interlocutory decertification order to which they are adverse merges with final judgment. The panel also held that the collective actions in this case were properly decertified and the officers properly dismissed for failure to satisfy the "similarly situated" requirement of the FLSA. The panel's de novo review of the record demonstrated that the officers failed, as a matter of law, to create a triable question of fact regarding the existence of a Department-wide policy or practice. View "Campbell v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 does not preempt the California Labor Commissioner's use of a common law test, the Borello standard, to determine whether a motor carrier has properly classified its drivers as independent contractors. The Ninth Circuit held that the Borello standard, a generally applicable test used in a traditional area of state regulation, was not "related to" prices, routes, or services, and therefore was not preempted. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief of the Commissioner's use of the test. View "California Trucking Association v. Su" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Paramount in an action under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. AFM filed suit alleging breach of Article 3 of the Basic Theatrical Motion Picture Agreement, a collective bargaining agreement, in connection with the motion picture, Same Kind of Different As Me, which was scored in Slovakia. The panel held that the district court misinterpreted Article 3 to apply only if a signatory producer employs the cast and crew shooting the picture; Article 3 functions as a work preservation provision that dictates when a signatory has to hire those musicians; and Article 3 applied when a signatory studio produces a motion picture and has authority over the hiring and employment of scoring musicians. The panel held that there was a disputed question of fact as to whether Paramount produced the movie and had sufficient authority over the hiring of scoring musicians such that Article 3 applied. Finally, the panel rejected Paramount's affirmative defense that Article 3 violated the National Labor Relations Act's "hot cargo" prohibition and reversed two of the district court's evidentiary rulings. View "American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada v. Paramount Pictures Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court of California: Whether work installing electrical equipment on locomotives and rail cars (i.e., the "onboard work" for Metrolink's PTC project) falls within the definition of "public works" under California Labor Code 1720(a)(1) either (a) as constituting "construction" or "installation" under the statute or (b) as being integral to other work performed for the PTC project on the wayside (i.e., the "field installation work"). View "Busker v. Wabtec Corp." on Justia Law

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A class of retired employees filed suit alleging that two reforms adopted by the County of Orange violated their vested rights when it restructured its health benefits program, in violation of the County's contractual obligations, and constituted age discrimination in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FEHA claim, holding that plaintiffs had no contractual right to continue receiving the Retiree Premium Subsidy pursuant to the holding in Retired Emps. Ass'n of Orange Cty., Inc. v. Cty. of Orange (REAOC V), 742 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir. 2014); California law did not fault the County for offering different benefits to retirees and to active employees at the outset, absent a FEHA violation; the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act applied to plaintiffs; and plaintiffs' claim of unlawful age discrimination under FEHA failed as a matter of law. The panel held, however, that the district court erred in dismissing some of plaintiffs' contract claims. The panel held that plaintiffs set forth sufficient allegations regarding the continuation of the Grant Benefit during the employees' lifetime to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Harris v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant and denial of plaintiff's motion to remand in an action alleging violation of a City of San Jose minimum wage ordinance. The district court concluded that plaintiff failed to first exhaust his claim through a required grievance process. The panel held that, whether plaintiff's claims were exhausted or not, the district court was without jurisdiction to hear this case. The panel recognized the strong preemptive force of section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), but held that plaintiff's suit amounted to an interpretive challenge to the San Jose ordinance, not one that required substantial analysis of his union's collective-bargaining agreement. Therefore, the panel remanded for removal to state court and further proceedings. View "McCray v. Marriott Hotel Services, Inc." on Justia Law