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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Salvation Army, in an employment discrimination action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The panel held that the religious organization exemption (ROE) applied to the Salvation Army; the ROE reached claims for retaliation and hostile work environment; and the ROE barred plaintiff's claims because the ROE was nonjurisdictional and subject to procedural forfeiture, and may be first raised at summary judgment absent prejudice. Absent prejudice resulting from the failure to timely raise the defense, the panel held that the Salvation Army permissibly invoked the ROE at summary judgment and it foreclosed plaintiff's Title VII claims. The panel also held that plaintiff failed to make out a claim under the ADA because the Salvation Army was under no obligation to engage in an interactive process in the absence of a disability. In this case, after plaintiff's clearance for work, she failed to show that she was disabled. View "Garcia v. Salvation Army" on Justia Law

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Employees at Seoul Garden, an Ann Arbor, Michigan restaurant, customarily work lunch and dinner shifts six days a week. Before August 2016, when the restaurant got a time clock, employees did not record their hours. The owners marked employees as present or absent for each shift without recording whether employees left early or stayed late. Employees work an average of 52 hours a week. The owners negotiate a “guaranteed wage” day rate with each employee, then derive an hourly rate (for 40 hours) and overtime rate. Although the rate is generous compared to minimum wage, some employees’ rates are too low to reach the guaranteed wage even working a full week, so the owners add a “bonus” to reach the agreed-upon weekly wage. In rare instances, employees exceed their guaranteed wage; the owners apply a “negative bonus” to reduce the pay to the guaranteed wage. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigated and alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207(a). The district court held that the owners owe back pay of $112,212 to 28 employees and enjoined them from continuing violations, but excused them from paying liquidated damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting the owners’ insufficient record-keeping but stating that they acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing they were in compliance with the Act. View "Acosta v. Min & Kim, Inc." on Justia Law

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Where a jury awarded plaintiff nominal compensatory damages and punitive damages for his claim of hostile work environment against his former employer, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's post-trial motions and grant of attorney's fees to plaintiff. The court held that the $250,000 award of punitive damages was supported by the record where plaintiff repeatedly complained to supervisors that his manager was using racial slurs and the company did not take action; plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1981 claim was timely under the applicable four year statue of limitations where the workplace abuse continued into the limitations period; the punitive damages amount was constitutionally sound in light of the degree of reprehensibility of defendant's misconduct; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees and accepting the attorney's hourly rate as reasonable. View "Bryant v. Jeffrey Sand Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants and the denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, holding that Plaintiffs, who worked for Defendants’ company that grew, harvested, packages, and distributed bean sprouts, were entitled to overtime pay for the hours they worked over forty each week under the overtime statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A. The superior court judge concluded Plaintiffs were not entitled to overtime wages because the work they performed fell under the agricultural exemption to the overtime statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed after reading the plain language of the exemption in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A(19) narrowly in include only the work of planting, raising, and harvesting crops, holding that Plaintiffs were not “engaged in agriculture and farming” within the meaning of the agricultural exemption and thus were entitled to overtime pay as provided by the overtime statute. View "Arias-Villano v. Chang & Sons Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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At the summary judgment stage, the district court found that an employee of Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. caused over $100,000 in losses to the P.C., while he was acting in the ordinary course of the P.C.’s business. The district court then issued a judgment to the P.C. for the policy amount of $100,000 pursuant to a Dishonesty Bond issued by Western Surety Company. Western appealed the district court’s determinations that the employee caused the loss while acting in the ordinary course of business and that the P.C. actually suffered the loss. The P.C. cross-appealed the district court’s findings that it was the only entity insured under the bond and argued it was awarded too little by way of attorney’s fees. The Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) the district court correctly concluded that only the P.C. was an insured and the only entity that could recover under the bond; (2) whether the employee was acting the “ordinary course of [the P.C.’s] business” was a jury question; (3) a genuine issue of fact existed regarding the amount of losses the P.C. sustained; and (4) the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to the P.C. The Supreme Court therefore vacated summary judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Greenwald v. Western Surety" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals vacating the jury verdict in favor of Charles Dawson as to his claim that the negligence of his employer, BNSF Railway Company, caused his back injuries, holding that reasonable minds could reach different conclusions as to whether Dawson’s claim was timely. In 1979, Dawson began his employment with BNSF as a switchman and brakeman and later worked as a conductor. In 2008, Dawson began experiencing back pain. In 2011, Dawson filed this action against BNSF under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) alleging that BNSF’s negligence led to his injuries. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dawson. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the district court erred when it denied BNSF’s motion for judgment as a matter of law because Dawson’s cumulative claim was time barred and that Dawson’s acute injury claims were time barred. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the district court, holding that the district court did not err when it submitted the statute of limitations question to the jury. View "Dawson v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s suit against Nueces County, holding that governmental immunity barred the suit. Plaintiff served as an assistant district attorney in Neuces County for two years. After he was fired, Plaintiff sued the County, the district attorney’s office, and the then-district attorney (collectively, the County), alleging wrongful termination and seeking actual damages and exemplary damages. The trial court dismissed the case on the ground that governmental immunity barred Plaintiff’s claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither Sabine Pilot Service, Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733 (Tex. 1985), nor the Michael Morton Act waived the County’s governmental immunity from Plaintiff’s claim. View "Hillman v. Nueces County, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action alleging that she had not been notified that her employment contract would not be renewed within the timeframe required by a collective bargaining agreement, holding that Plaintiff’s action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Plaintiff brought this action against the Board of the Nebraska State Colleges alleging that the Board had breached the collective bargaining agreement by failing to timely notify her in writing of its intent not to renew her employment contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment and dismissed this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that that Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action against the Board was an action against the State, and Plaintiff failed to identify any statute that served to waive the State’s sovereign immunity. View "Burke v. Board of Trustees of Nebraska State Colleges" on Justia Law

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Arturo Aguilar appealed the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Order of the Idaho Industrial Commission in which it concluded the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was not liable to him for worker’s compensation benefits. Aguilar was born in Mexico, spoke limited English and testified through a translator at his hearing. Aguilar, in the words of the Commission, is “a Mexican National and has resided illegally in the United States since approximately 1986.” Married, Aguilar and his wife had two daughters, the eldest of whom had cerebral palsy and was seriously disabled. Aguilar primarily worked as a manual laborer, including agricultural work, ranch work, and, for the last fifteen to sixteen years prior to the injury giving rise to this claim, concrete and cement work. During this latter line of employment, Aguilar sustained multiple back injuries. On December 11, 2006, Aguilar suffered another low back injury while screeding concrete. Following this latter injury, Aguilar was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and a disc herniation at the L4-5 level of his spine. Because he was unable to get his pain to abate, he underwent back surgery, which resulted in the fusion of the L4-5 level of Aguilar’s spine. The Industrial Commission (the Commission) found that Aguilar was totally and permanently disabled and that he had pre-existing impairments that constituted subjective hindrances to his employment. However, the Commission rejected Aguilar’s claim that the ISIF was liable for benefits. Specifically, the Commission found Aguilar’s limitations and restrictions had not materially changed following the second injury. Having drawn that conclusion, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the Commission failed to apply the correct legal test in analyzing the ISIF’s liability. The Court also determined the Commission erred by failing to apply the disjunctive test for causation as set out in Idaho Code section 72-332. As a result of these two errors, the order set out in the Commission’s decision was vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Aguilar v. Idaho ISIF" on Justia Law

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In the three months plaintiff Ashley Schutz worked for Defendant O’Brien Constructors and project manager Keely O’Brien, she had declined multiple invitations by Keely O’Brien to join him and other coworkers for drinks after work. Plaintiff nevertheless felt pressured to accept an invitation so that she would advance in the firm. Plaintiff sued her employer and its agent, alleging that she had been seriously injured in an auto accident after she was pressured to attend a work-related event where she had become intoxicated. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that they were entitled to statutory immunity under ORS 471.565(1) and that that grant of immunity did not violate the remedy clause of Article I, section 10, of the Oregon Constitution. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s remedy clause analysis and reversed. On review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded defendants were not entitled to statutory immunity under ORS 471.565(1). The Court of Appeals’ judgment was vacated, the trial court reversed, and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Schutz v. La Costita III, Inc." on Justia Law