Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting in part a union's motion to dismiss and holding that five claims brought by a union member were preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and were thus "converted" into section 301 claims. In this dispute between union members and their union, plaintiff filed suit in state court challenging the trusteeship as violating the Nevada Service Employees Union's (the Local) constitution, the Service Employees International Union's (the International), and an affiliation agreement between the two organizations. After removal to federal court, the district court granted the Local's board's (the Union) motion to dismiss in part.The panel concluded that section 301 completely preempts claims that require interpretation of a union constitution, to the extent the constitution is a contract between unions. The panel explained that savings clauses included in the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act did not repeal section 301's preemptive force. The panel also concluded that plaintiff's five claims required analysis of at least one section 301 labor contract. Therefore, plaintiff's claims were preempted and removable. View "Garcia v. Service Employees International Union" on Justia Law

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Members of the plaintiff class were former Alaska State employees. When they enrolled in the State employee retirement system, a statute provided that if they left eligible employment, withdrew their contributions to the system, and later returned to eligible employment, they could repay their withdrawn contributions, be reinstated to their original benefits level, and have their credited service time restored. The statute was later repealed. The superior court ruled on summary judgment that this repeal did not diminish or impair the former employees’ accrued benefits and was therefore constitutional. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the statutory reinstatement right was an accrued benefit of the retirement system protected against diminishment or impairment by article XII, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution. The Court therefore reversed the superior court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Metcalfe v. Alaska" on Justia Law

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In this case involving an Employer's subrogation interest in a $1.5 million settlement, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the Workers Compensation Board calculating the subrogation interest for Employer and remanding for a larger reduction, holding that the Board correctly determined the calculations.Employee suffered a workplace injury and received workers compensation benefits from Employer and its insurance carrier. Employee sued three other entities he claimed were liable for some or all of his injuries and settled with two of those entities. In this matter, Employer and its insurer sought to be repaid from one of those settlements under Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-504(b). The jury found Employer twenty-five percent at fault and assessed Employee's damages at more than $4 million. The Board reduced the subrogation interest for Employer's past and future expenses by twenty-five percent of the settlement, but the court of appeals concluded that the reduction should be by twenty-five percent of the jury's award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board did not err in calculating Employer's subrogation interest. View "Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service" on Justia Law

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In consolidated petitions for review, RadNet challenges the Board's decisions finding unfair labor practices based on RadNet's refusal to bargain with the Union on behalf of six separate bargaining units, each representing certain technical workers employed at a different RadNet facility in Southern California. RadNet contends that all six certifications are marred by defects in election procedure, election misconduct, or underlying representation issues.The DC Circuit denied the petitions for review, concluding that the Regional Director did not abuse its discretion in determining that certain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologists and Nuclear Technologists were not guards within the meaning of section 9(b)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA); RadNet's claim that the elections were a priori defective because they were conducted pursuant to the Board's 2014 revised election rules lacks merit; although the Board abused its discretion in choosing to postpone the counting of ballots and the disclosure of results until the conclusion of voting in all ten of the individual unit elections, the error was harmless; the Board did not abuse its discretion by overruling RadNet's union affiliation objection, and in any event, RadNet has shown no prejudice; even assuming the veracity of RadNet's factual allegations, the court was unpersuaded that the Board abused its discretion in overruling the four separate objections concerning the conduct of individual elections, and the court saw no specific evidence of prejudice to the fairness of the election; and the Board did not abuse its discretion in granting summary judgment to the General Counsel without allowing relitigation of certain underlying representation issues. View "RadNet Management, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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Appellants, truck owner/operators who performed work as putative independent contractors for East Coast, filed suit alleging that they were actually employees rather than independent contractors and were therefore wrongfully deprived of statutory protections and benefits given to employees. After the first portion of a bifurcated trial on appellants' claim under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), the trial court ruled that appellants were independent contractors rather than employees, and disposed of appellants' claims.The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that, since the trial court's ruling, the California Supreme Court has decided that Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903, should be applied retroactively. The court explained that Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International (2021) 10 Cal.5th 944, which held so, is controlling here, and thus the judgment may not be affirmed on the legal grounds that the trial court adopted. In regard to East Coast's alternative contention, the court concluded that federal law does not preempt application of the ABC test to motor carriers. In this case, the trial court should consider in the first instance whether appellants were misclassified as independent contractors under the ABC test. View "Parada v. East Coast Transport Inc." on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded on plaintiff's age discrimination and gender discrimination claims, affirming the Title VII retaliation and hostile work environment claims. Plaintiff sought rehearing, arguing that the Supreme Court's decision in her case also undermined the court's Trask-based rejection of her Title VII retaliation claim and that an intervening 11th Circuit decision, Monaghan v. Worldpay US, Inc., 955 F.3d 855 (11th Cir. 2020), gutted the precedent on which the court had relied in rejecting her hostile work environment claim.The Eleventh Circuit held that the Supreme Court's decision in plaintiff's case undermined Trask v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, 822 F.3d 1179 (11th Cir. 2016), to the point of abrogation and that the standard that the Court articulated there now controls cases arising under Title VII's nearly identical text. The court also held that Monaghan clarified the court's law governing what the court called "retaliatory-hostile-work-environment" claims, and that the standard for such claims is, as the court said there, the less onerous "might have dissuaded a reasonable worker" test articulated in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006), and Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F.3d 961 (11th Cir. 2008), rather than the more stringent "severe or pervasive" test found in Gowski v. Peake, 682 F.3d 1299 (11th Cir. 2012). Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII retaliation and hostile work environment claims and remanded for the district court to consider those claims under the proper standards. View "Babb v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the school district, alleging race, sex, and age discrimination claims under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act as well as retaliation and due process claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff was employed by the school district as principal of a middle school until the school district concluded that plaintiff had violated several district policies and voted not to renew her contract.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district. In regard to plaintiff's state-law discrimination claims, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of race discrimination where she failed to show either that she was replaced by someone outside her protected class or treated less favorably than similarly situated individuals who were outside her protected class. The court also concluded that plaintiff's sex discrimination claim failed where the undisputed facts establish that plaintiff was not replaced by someone outside her protected class and she failed to raise a dispute of fact to show that she was treated less favorably than other similarly situated individuals. The court further concluded that plaintiff's age discrimination claim failed where the school district rebutted the presumption of discrimination by offering a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its nonrenewal of plaintiff's contract. In this case, the school district's investigation found, among other things, that plaintiff engaged in impermissible fundraising activities and worked on an outside film project during her working hours. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to present evidence that the school district's stated reasons were pretextual. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's due process claim where she failed to establish that she has a protected liberty interest. View "Ross v. Judson Independent School District" 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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In 2010, Felten filed a qui tam complaint alleging that his then-employer, Beaumont Hospital, was violating the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3730(h), and the Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to physicians and physicians’ groups in exchange for referrals of Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE patients. Felten also alleged that Beaumont had retaliated against him by threatening and “marginaliz[ing]” him for insisting on compliance with the law. After the government intervened and settled the case against Beaumont, the district court dismissed the remaining claims, except those for retaliation and attorneys’ fees and costs.Felten amended his complaint to add allegations of retaliation that took place after he filed his initial complaint: he was terminated after Beaumont falsely represented to him that an internal report suggested that he be replaced and that his position was subject to mandatory retirement. Felten further alleged that he had been unable to obtain a comparable position in academic medicine because Beaumont “intentionally maligned [him].”The district court dismissed the allegations of retaliatory conduct occurring after Felten’s termination. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The FCA’s anti-retaliation provision protects a relator from a defendant’s retaliation after the relator’s termination. View "Felten v. William Beaumont Hospital" on Justia Law

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In 2008, State Bank, a Fentura subsidiary, hired Wollschlager to deal with “problem loans.” Wollschlager’s contract provided a golden parachute worth $175,000 if the Bank fired him early. In 2009, the FDIC deemed the Bank “troubled.” In 2010, Wollschlager negotiated an amended agreement worth $245,000. Wollschlager's 2011 separation agreement provided that the $245,000 payment would comprise $138,000 (one year’s salary) within 60 days of Wollschlager’s departure; $107,000 plus his base compensation through the end of the year ($28,000) would be paid once the Bank’s conditions improved. Fentura did not seek FDIC prior approval. The FDIC and the Federal Reserve subsequently approved the $138,000 installment. FDIC regulations “generally limit payments to no more than one year of annual salary.” In 2013, Fentura sought approval to pay the remainder, acknowledging that the agreements required prior approval. The FDIC refused, citing 12 U.S.C. 1828(k).The district court granted the FDIC judgment on the record. The Sixth Circuit affirmed The statute says that the agency should withhold golden parachute payments for misconduct and should also consider whether the employee “was in a position of managerial or fiduciary responsibility,” the “length of” the employment, and whether the “compensation involved represents a reasonable payment for” the employee’s services. The FDIC reasonably found that the payment would result in a windfall of two years’ salary for an employee who worked for just three years and that the Bank never sought initial approval. View "Wollschlager v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation" on Justia Law