by
Jason Lillie appeals the Employment Security Board’s denial of his claim for unemployment benefits. In July 2014, Lillie was an employee of Amerigas Propane, Inc. and suffered an injury while working. He reported the injury to his employer, which in turn reported it to its worker’s compensation insurer. He sought medical attention for his injury shortly after being hurt but was able to continue working for several weeks, most of it on modified or light duty. In October, Amerigas fired Lillie for an alleged safety violation. A few days later, Lillie’s doctor indicated he was medically unable to work. Lillie expressed concern that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he was not able to work but was told he must apply in order to receive economic benefits. Lillie then sought workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits, which were initially denied by the insurer. Without any income or compensation disability benefits for several weeks, Lillie sought economic assistance from the Vermont Economic Services Division of the Department for Children and Families. Lillie was told by Economic Services that in order to be eligible for economic assistance he would have to file for unemployment benefits, even if he felt he would not qualify for them. With his workers’ compensation claim still in dispute, and based upon the information he had received from Economic Services, Lillie filed a claim for unemployment benefits. The Unemployment Division found him to be monetarily eligible for unemployment benefits when he sought them in December 2014. While he had the necessary base period wages to make him monetarily eligible for benefits, Lillie was not able to work and available for work, as required by 21 V.S.A. 1343(a)(3), because he was medically unable to work. He was, therefore, denied unemployment compensation. "At a minimum, coordination of the important information between the Unemployment Division and Economic Services concerning monetary eligibility, the establishment of a benefit year, and the use of wages and the use of wages prior to disability in connection therewith in the case of a worker injured on the job may have avoided this quagmire. Following the advice given by Economic Services, which we do not doubt was provided in good faith to Lillie, resulted in the unintended consequence of his loss of unemployment benefits once he regained his ability to work in 2017." The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits; the Unemployment Division applied the law properly, and the Court was "not at liberty to rewrite the applicable statutes to obtain a different outcome." View "Lillie v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

by
The North Slope Borough discharged employee Tom Nicolos after he made statements that Borough employees interpreted as threats. Nicolos appealed the superior court’s order approving the Borough Personnel Board’s decision affirming his discharge. He claimed his statements did not constitute threats or other misconduct under the Borough’s personnel rules and that the Borough failed to conduct an adequate investigation into his alleged misconduct before terminating him. Nicolos also claimed that his purportedly threatening statements were manifestations of a disability and that his discharge violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Alaska Human Rights Act (AHRA). We reject Nicolos’s claims of error and affirm the judgment of the superior court approving the Personnel Board’s decision. Th Alaska Supreme Court found substantial evidence supporting the Board’s finding that Nicolos told a counselor that he had a premeditated plan to kill his supervisor, coworker, and others. This finding, combined with the undisputed evidence about Nicolos’s earlier conversation with his supervisor, justified the Board’s conclusion that Nicolos had violated the personnel rules on workplace violence. These violations were the basis for Nicolos’s discharge. The Board found that Nicolos was not terminated on the basis of prejudice: Nicolos did not argue, and has not shown, that he was terminated due to prejudice against him as a disabled person. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's approval of the Personnel Board's discharge decision. View "Nicolos v. North Slope Borough" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs each entered into agreements to provide services to Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. government-funded broadcast service. The agreements were a series of individual purchase order vendor (POV) contracts that each plaintiff entered into over several years with the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees VOA. In 2014, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State issued a report that was critical of the BBG’s use of POV contracts, concluding that the BBG was using such contracts in some cases to obtain personal services. Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging that, along with other individuals who have served as independent contractors for VOA, they should have been retained through personal services contracts or appointed to positions in the civil service. If their contracts had been classified as personal services contracts or they had been appointed to civil service positions, they alleged, they would have enjoyed enhanced compensation and benefits. The Claims Court dismissed and denied their request for leave to file a proposed second amended complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting several contract-based claims, seeking damages for the loss of the additional compensation and benefits to which Plaintiffs contend they were entitled. Plaintiffs have set forth no viable theory of recovery. View "Lee v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The district court did not err in finding that Elizabeth Mays, an exotic dancer with Midnite Dreams, Inc., doing business as Shaker’s, was an employee entitled to compensation under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, and the Wage and Hour Act (WHA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1201 et seq., but the court erred in granting Mays relief under the FLSA and the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (NWPCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1228 et seq. Mays filed a complaint seeking unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorney fees and costs under FLSA and Nebraska law. The trial court determined that Mays was entitled to a full minimum wage rate and that Defendants were jointly and severally liable for $7,586.78 in damages for unpaid wages. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court correctly determined that Mays was an employee entitled to a minimum wage under the WHA, but Mays was entitled to only the minimum wage amount for tipped employees; and (2) the court erred in ruling that Mays was entitled to relief under the FLSA and the NWPCA. View "Mays v. Midnite Dreams, Inc." on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether a teacher in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system is protected by the Maryland State Whistleblower Protection Law (WBL), Md. Code State Pers. & Pens. 5-301-314. Petitioner filed a WBL complaint against MCPS, arguing (1) teachers employed by the county school board are embraced within the WBL because the county school board is a unit of the executive branch of State government, and (2) MCPS should be estopped from asserting that it is not a State agency because it had asserted in other contexts State agency status. The court of appeals concluded (1) the WBL does not apply to public school teachers employed by county boards of education because they are not employees of the executive branch, and (2) an entity may qualify as a State agency for some purposes while being classified as a local agency for other purposes. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the county board of education is not a State agency for purposes of the WBL, and WBL protection does not otherwise extend to public school teachers; and (2) judicial estoppel has no role in this case because the appropriate designation of a county school board as either a State or local agency depends on the context of the board’s particular authority or function. View "Donlon v. Montgomery County Public Schools" on Justia Law

by
In this case brought under section 104 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (the LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. 414, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that a union member’s statutory right to “inspect” collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) did not encompass a right to take notes while doing so. Dimie Poweigha, a member of Local Union 26, UNITE HERE, was dissatisfied with the administration of Local 26 and asked the union to permit her to review thirty-seven CBAs that Local 26 had negotiated with employers other than her own. The union offered Poweigha opportunities for this purpose but stated that she could not take notes on the CBAs during her inspections. Poweigha filed this suit alleging that the limitation on note-taking violated section 104 of the LMRDA. The district court granted judgment for Local 26. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, in conferring a right on union members to “inspect” CBAs under section 104, Congress did not also invest the members with a right to take notes. View "Acosta v. Local Union 26, UNITE HERE" on Justia Law

by
Barry, a judicial administrative assistant, alleged that Franklin County Municipal Judge O’Grady created a hostile work environment with vulgar comments about women, either coming from O’Grady directly, encouraged by him, or tolerated by him. After overhearing the judge and bailiffs discussing the sex life of a female lawyer, Barry posted about the conversation on Facebook and told the female lawyer about it. When O’Grady learned that Barry had reported the conversation to the female lawyer, O’Grady retaliated. Barry brought O’Grady’s behavior to the attention of the court administration. She was moved out of O’Grady’s chambers, and accepted a transfer to a less-desirable position as her only real option. Her work life continued to devolve; she suffered from mental-health issues. Barry sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming retaliation in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. O’Grady argued qualified immunity. The district court disagreed, finding disputed issues of material fact and concluding that a reasonable jury could find in Barry’s favor. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal because O’Grady’s argument relied on disagreements with the district court’s weighing of facts and factual inferences, not questions of law. View "Barry v. O'Grady" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff David McQueer brought a negligence action against his employer, Perfect Fence Company, to recover damages after he was injured on the job. Perfect Fence moved for summary judgment on the ground that the exclusive-remedy provision of the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act (WDCA), MCL 418.101 et seq., barred plaintiff’s action. Plaintiff responded that his action was not barred because defendant had violated MCL 418.611 by failing to procure workers’ compensation coverage for him and had violated MCL 418.171 by encouraging him to pose as a nonemployee. Plaintiff additionally moved to amend his complaint to add claims of intentional tort and breach of an employment contract. Plaintiff argued that the evidence raised a question of fact about whether defendant intended to injure him in a way that brought plaintiff’s claim within the scope of the intentional tort exception to the exclusive-remedy provision of the WDCA. The trial court granted Perfect Fence’s motion, concluding that the company had not violated MCL 418.611 because defendant had provided workers’ compensation coverage. The court also ruled that MCL 418.171 was not applicable to plaintiff’s claims. The court denied plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint, concluding that amendment would be futile because the undisputed facts did not demonstrate that defendant intended to injure plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and denial of plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint in an unpublished per curiam opinion. The panel agreed with the trial court that defendant had not violated MCL 418.611, but concluded that plaintiff had established a question of fact regarding whether defendant had improperly encouraged him to pose as a contractor for the purpose of evading liability under WDCA in violation of MCL 418.171(4). The panel also concluded that because plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence to create a question of fact regarding whether an intentional tort had occurred, the trial court abused its discretion by not allowing plaintiff to amend his complaint. The Michigan Supreme Court held MCL 418.171 did not apply in this case: because plaintiff was not the employee of a contractor engaged by defendant, he had no cause of action under MCL 418.171. For this reason, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals judgment only as to whether MCL 418.171 applied. View "McQueer v. Perfect Fence Company" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, an African-American man, who claimed violation of his constitutional right to equal protection of the law. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that defendants, each mayors of the City of Naples at times when plaintiff was employed by the city, paid two specific white employees at a higher rate than he was paid. The court held that plaintiff failed to show a violation of his constitutional rights where there was no genuine dispute that plaintiff's job was not nearly identical to that of his proffered comparators. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to enter judgment for defendants. View "Mitchell v. Mills" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in this labor dispute and vacated the the district court’s judgment, holding that the case was moot. A group of supervisors working for Utah Transit Authority (UTA) coordinated with a labor organization in an effort to unionize, which the UTA resisted. The union and supervisors subsequently filed an action seeking a declaration of their right to organize. After the district court entered a non-final order concluding that the supervisors had collective bargaining rights under Utah law, the supervisors voted not to unionize. Because the district court had not entered a final judgment, the case became moot. The district court then entered its final judgment, and UTA appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and vacated the judgment below, holding that the controversy became moot before the district court had entered its final judgment, and the district court should have dismissed the case as moot at that point. View "Teamsters Local 222 v. Utah Transit Authority" on Justia Law