Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Tracking a fugitive, Deputy Marshal Linder interrogated the fugitive’s father. Another deputy saw Linder punch the father. Linder was indicted for witness tampering and using excessive force and was put on leave. McPherson, the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois, instructed other deputies not to communicate with Linder or his lawyers without approval. The indictment was dismissed as a sanction. Linder returned to work. Linder filed a “Bivens action,” against McPherson and a suit against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b). The district court dismissed all of Linder’s claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed against the government alone. Section 2680(a) provides that the Act does not apply to “[a]ny claim ... based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty on the part of a federal agency or an employee of the Government, whether or not the discretion involved be abused.” In deciding when federal employees needed permission to talk with Linder or his lawyer, McPherson exercised a discretionary function. The court rejected arguments that the discretionary function exemption does not apply to malicious prosecution suits. “Congress might have chosen to provide financial relief to all persons who are charged with crimes but never convicted. The Federal Tort Claims Act does not do this.” View "Linder v. McPherson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the denial of Appellant's application to the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. After Appellant injured his back the Division awarded him temporary benefits. When several years had passed without relief from his pain, Appellant appleid for PPD benefits. The Division denied Appellant's application. The OAH upheld the Division's denial of PPD benefits, concluding that Appellant failed to prove his work injury was the cause of his inability to return to employment and failed to prove that he timely filed his PPD application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the OAH correctly calculated the limitations period under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-405(h)(ii); and (2) there was substantial evidence to support the OAH's conclusion that Appellant failed to prove that his injury was the cause of his inability to return to work. View "Camacho v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the order of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division's (Division) final determination regarding compensability, holding that the OAH erred in its determination that equitable estoppel did not bar the Division from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense. The OAH affirmed the final determination of the Division denying benefits to Appellant on the grounds that Appellant did not file a claim for benefits within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in Wyo. Stat. 27-14-503(a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Division was estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense, and therefore, the OAH's conclusion that section 27-14-503(a) barred Appellant's claim was not in accordance with law. View "Sweetalla v. State ex rev. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his transfer was retaliatory, holding that the common-law tort of retaliation may be premised on an employer's action short of dismissal or demotion. Plaintiff, a Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) trooper, alleged that the KHP retaliated by requiring him to move across the state to keep his job after the Kansas Civil Service Board ordered the agency to reinstate him to work. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed, although the lower courts disagreed as to inquiries at issue on this appeal. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case, holding (1) common-law retaliation may be premised on the involuntary job relocation alleged in this case; (2) sovereign immunity did not bar Plaintiff's claim; but (3) there were genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Hill v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the award of benefits entered by the Utah Labor Commission in favor of Jessica Wilson, holding that the Commission did not err in concluding that Wilson's injuries arose out of, and in the course of, her employment with her employer, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). Wilson sustained injuries after tripping and falling in a parking lot while walking into work. Wilson requested benefits from IHG. IHG denied Wilson's claim, concluding that, under the going-and-coming rule, Wilson's accident did not arise out of and in the course of her employment. An ALJ with the Commission reviewed Wilson's claim and concluded that Wilson was entitled to benefits under the premises rule. The Commission affirmed, concluding that the communal parking area where the accident occurred was proof IHG's premises for purposes of determining compensability. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission properly determined that Wilson's accident occurred on IHG's premises and that, under case law, this constituted an accident in the course of her employment. View "Intercontinental Hotels Group v. Utah Labor Commission" on Justia Law

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In this claim for workers' compensation benefits the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the district court affirming the appeals officer's decisions as to compensability and liability and reversing as to the award amount, holding that the liability determination and award amount determination were improper. Plaintiff sought benefits after her husband died as a result of heart disease. The decedent's former employer and its former insurer denied benefits. The appeals officer reversed, concluding that the decedent's death was caused by a compensable occupational heart disease, that his employer was liable as the self-insurer, and that the amount of the claim was based on the decedent's income from his private employer at the time of death. The district court reversed in part, concluding that the award should be based on the decedent's wages on the date of disablement, or death, which were zero. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the last injurious exposure rule determines the liable insurer for an occupational disease claim that arose out of and in the course of employment even if the employee no longer works for that employer; and (2) death benefits should have been based on the decedent's wages at the time he last worked for the employer. View "Demaranville v. Employers Insurance Co. of Nevada" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Freedom Foundation filed a public records request for documents relating to union organizing by several University of Washington (UW) faculty members. The UW asked one of the faculty to search his e-mail accounts for responsive records, and after reviewing those records, gave notice that it intended to release many of them in the absence of an injunction. Respondent Service Employees International Union 925 sued to enjoin release of any union-related records, arguing they were not "public records" under 42.56 RCW, the Washington Public Records Act. The trial court granted the injunction and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Foundation petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review, arguing that the "scope of employment test" employed by the trial court and affirmed on appeal, only applied to records stored on an employee's personal device, and should not have been extended to records on public agencies' e-mail servers. The Supreme Court agreed, reversed and remanded. View "Serv. Emps. Int'l Union Local 925 v. Univ. of Wash." on Justia Law

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The federal district court in Washington State certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court. Plaintiffs Valerie Sampson and David Raymond (collectively, Sampson) were Washington residents who worked as commercial truck drivers for defendants Knight Transportation Inc., Knight Refrigerated, LLC, and Knight Port Services LLC (collectively, Knight). Plaintiffs brought this putative class action on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated for several alleged violations of Washington wage and hour laws. At issue here was Sampson's claim that piece-rate drivers must receive separate hourly compensation for all time spent "on-duty not- driving." The question the federal court posed to the Supreme Court was whether the Washington Minimum Wage Act required non-agricultural employers to pay their piece-rate employees per hour for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate work. The Supreme Court responded: no. "All workers must be compensated for all hours worked in a work week in accordance with the Minimum Wage Act (MWA). For nonagricultural workers, WAC 296-126-021 validly allows employers to demonstrate compliance with the MWA's guaranty that Washington workers receive a minimum wage for each hour worked by ensuring that the total wages for the week do not fall below the statutory minimum wage for each hour worked. Accordingly, the plaintiffs in this case fail to demonstrate as a matter of law that they were uncompensated for time spent "loading and unloading, pre-trip inspections, fueling, detention at a shipper or consignee, washing trucks, and other similar activities." View "Sampson v. Knight Transp., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying Appellant's request for permanent partial disability benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious. In denying Appellant permanent partial disability benefits the hearing examiner determined that Appellant had not established that because of his injury he was unable to return to employment at a wage of at least ninety-five percent of his monthly earnings at the time of his injury. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the hearing examiner should have found dispositive the undisputed fact that Appellant had applied for over fifty positions and still had no job. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing examiner's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and the district court did not err in affirming the hearing examiner's conclusion. View "Bollinger v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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First Student petitioned for review of a decision and order of the NLRB finding it was a "perfectly clear" successor employer and violated the National Labor Relations Act by changing the terms and conditions on which it would hire the incumbent employees without bargaining with their union. The DC Circuit denied the petition, holding that not only is the Board's finding that First Student was a perfectly clear successor consistent with Board precedent, it also rests on a reasonable interpretation of the perfectly clear successor doctrine. The court explained that the Board's interpretation was consistent with the Supreme Court's understanding that the doctrine applies where it is perfectly clear that the new employer plans to retain all the employees in the unit. Furthermore, the Board's interpretation also protects the incumbent employees. The court also rejected First Student's alternative claim that the general manager's statements at the March 2nd meeting gave unit employees adequate notice of its intent to impose new terms of employment. Accordingly, the court denied First Student's petition for review and granted the Board's cross-petition for enforcement of its order in full. View "First Student, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law