Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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ABM appealed the district court's denial of its motion to confirm an arbitration award and granting in part the union's motion to vacate the award, under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). In this case, the arbitrator issued an opinion and award, concluding that two employees were not entitled to termination pay and directing them to repay certain amounts to ABM. The district court denied the motion to confirm the arbitrator's award, concluding that the award was ultra vires and unenforceable.The Second Circuit held that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority because, under both agency law principles and federal labor law, the union possessed the authority to bind the employees to the arbitration award. The court stated that the district court plainly erred by reasoning that no precedent or authority supported the proposition that a union can bind its members to make payments ordered by an arbitrator under an arbitration agreement to which they were not signatories, following a process in which they did not participate. Rather, the court held that the record is clear that the employees did participate in the arbitration proceeding and the union possessed both agency and statutory authority to appear in the arbitration on their behalf. View "ABM Industry Groups, LLC v. International Union of Operating Engineers" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting BBB's motion for summary judgment in an action brought by BBB employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiffs alleged that BBB was precluded from using the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method in calculating overtime compensation.The court held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether their wage payments were inconsistent with the FWW method. In this case, plaintiffs demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether they received fixed and guaranteed weekly wages; the FWW method does not require employees' hours to fluctuate above and below 40 hours per week; and BBB's practice of permitting employees to take days of paid time off on later dates after working on holidays or previously scheduled days off is consistent with the FWW method. View "Thomas v. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Inc." on Justia Law

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Unions representing Nassau County employees filed suit against NIFA after it instituted a year-long wage freeze for all county employees. The unions alleged that the wage freeze, because it was a legislative act that was not reasonable and necessary to achieve NIFA's purported goal of fiscal soundness, violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court held that NIFA's implementation of the wage freeze was administrative, rather than legislative, and granted summary judgment for defendants.The Second Circuit held that NIFA's wage freeze did not violate the Contracts Clause and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. The court assumed without deciding that NIFA's imposition of the wage freeze was legislative in nature, and held that the wage freeze was a reasonable and necessary means to achieve NIFA's asserted end of ensuring the continued fiscal health of the county. View "Sullivan v. Nassau County Interim Finance Authority" on Justia Law

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Vaughn sued Phoenix House, a drug treatment facility, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL), alleging that he was not paid for work he performed while a patient there. Following a remand, the complaint was dismissed for a second time. The Second Circuit affirmed. The section 1983 claim was untimely. Vaughn was not an employee of Phoenix House within the meaning of the FLSA. The court analyzed the “Glatt” factors, used for assessing unpaid internships, to apply the “primary beneficiary test.” Although Vaughn was not compensated for his work duties, Vaughn received significant benefits from staying at Phoenix House. He was permitted to receive rehabilitation treatment there in lieu of a jail sentence and was provided with food, a place to live, therapy, vocational training, and jobs that kept him busy and off drugs. View "Vaughn v. Phoenix House New York, Inc." on Justia Law

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A party who complied with directly controlling Supreme Court precedent in collecting fair-share fees cannot be held liable for monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 to obtain repayment of fair-share union fees. The court held that, because defendants collected fair share fees in reliance on directly controlling Supreme Court precedent and then-valid state statutes, their reliance was objectively reasonable, and they are entitled to a good-faith defense as a matter of law. The court reviewed plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Wholean v. CSEA SEIU Local 2001" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for overtime pay under the New York Labor Law's (NYLL) overtime-pay provision.The court held that, although the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were ineligible for overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular wage, the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs were ineligible for any overtime pay under the NYLL. The court explained that a plain reading of the NYLL's overtime-pay provision demonstrates that employees subject to certain exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Motor Carrier Exemption, must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Class plaintiffs are seven named plaintiffs representing six putative classes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). Plaintiffs also filed suit on behalf of themselves and 516 individuals who opted in to a conditionally certified collective action (the "collective plaintiffs") under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Class plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle misclassified them as exempt employees in violation of the labor laws in six states, and collective plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle misclassified them as exempt employees in violation of the FLSA.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying class certification on the basis of a lack of predominance and superiority. While reasonable minds could disagree, on the record before the court, it could not say that the district court's factual findings were clearly erroneous or that its conclusion was outside the range of permissible decisions.However, the court vacated the district court's order decertifying the collective action, holding that the district court committed legal error by improperly analogizing the standard for maintaining a collective action under the FLSA to Rule 23 procedure, and relying on that improper analogy in concluding that named plaintiffs and opt-in plaintiffs are not "similarly situated." In this case, the district court committed legal error in employing the "sliding scale" analogy to Rule 23 as it improperly conflated section 216(b) with Rule 23 and that rule's more stringent requirements. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff's action against the Town, alleging that she was terminated from her employment based on age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The district court granted summary judgment on the sole ground that plaintiff had failed to make out a prima facie case of any adverse employment action, because she chose to retire rather than attend a scheduled disciplinary hearing.The court held that, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the evidence was sufficient to present genuine issues of fact as to whether a reasonable person in plaintiff's shoes would have felt compelled to retire. In this case, the district court failed to view evidence that the retirement was not voluntary because it was coerced by the threat of likely termination, and therefore plaintiff suffered a constructive-discharge adverse employment action. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Green v. Town of East Haven" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff's claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. 1981, alleging a discriminatory hostile work environment and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. In this case, defendant alleged that employees retaliated against him for reporting possible overcharging at his job and that employees made inflammatory remarks regarding his Egyptian heritage and his Coptic Christian religion. Plaintiff was terminated by Marriott shortly after a physical altercation with another employee.The court held that a hostile work environment claim does not require a plaintiff to show that he or she had been physically threatened by the defendant or that his or her work performance has suffered as a result of the claimed hostile work environment; discriminatory conduct not directly targeted at the plaintiff can contribute to an actionable hostile work environment; and dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim by summary judgment was improper because plaintiff's submission in opposition to the motion presented disputed issues of material fact that should be resolved by a jury. View "Rasmy v. Marriott International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act.The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law