Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

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Elation sued Fenn and Shi for breach of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) (against Shi only) entered during the course of Shi’s prior employment with Elation and breach of a confidential settlement agreement and mutual release (Settlement Agreement) (against both defendants) entered to resolve a prior action between the parties. The defendants filed a cross-complaint, alleging Elation’s breach of the Settlement Agreement. Elation admitted to liability and stipulated to $10,000 in liquidated damages on the cross-claim for breach of the Settlement Agreement. A jury found that Shi had breached the NDA and harmed Elation, and awarded Elation $10,000 in damages. The court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), denied Elation’s motion for injunctive relief, and awarded defendants $700,000 in attorney fees.The court of appeal reversed in part. The trial court should have awarded Elation nominal damages on its NDA claim, as defendants’ JNOV motion did not challenge the jury’s finding that Shi breached the NDA. Substantial evidence did not support the jury’s finding in Elation’s favor on its Settlement Agreement claim. The court affirmed the order granting JNOV as to Elation’s Settlement Agreement claim and vacated the award of attorney fees. View "Elation Systems, Inc. v. Fenn Bridge LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court preliminarily enjoining the West Virginia Paycheck Protection Act, passed by the Legislature in 2021, from taking effect, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it granted Respondents injunctive relief.Respondents - labor unions, employee associations, and individual members of such groups - sought to enjoin the enforcement of the Act, which prohibits state employers from continuing to deduct union dues and employee association membership fees from public employees' wages. The circuit court concluded that the law violated certain of Respondents' constitutional rights and that its enforcement would irreparably harm them. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it did not deny injunctive relief to Respondents. View "Justice v. W. Va. AFL-CIO" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the circuit court entered under the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, W. Va. Code 23-5-1 to -18 (the WPCA), holding that the court acted within its discretion, and there was otherwise no error.Employer in this case made withholdings from the wages of its employees that met the definition of an assignment set forth under the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, W. Va. Code 23-5-1 to -18 (the WPCA). Employer, however, never procured from its employees a writing that complied with the conditions set forth in the WPCA. Employees filed a class-action suit to recoup Employer's withholdings. The circuit court entered an orders (1) finding Employer liable for violating the WPCA, and (2) awarding Employees the wages improperly taken from their paychecks, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion or err in its orders. View "Fairmont Tool, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court reversing the decision of a West Virginia State Police Grievance System hearing officer and ordering the reinstatement of Respondent to his employment as a state trooper, holding that the circuit court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of the hearing examiner.The hearing examiner concluded that Respondent had committed conduct unbecoming of a state trooper and had used excessive force, among other things, and that the preponderance of the evidence supported the decision to terminate Respondent's employment. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the hearing examiner's decision was clearly wrong and erroneous as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of the hearing examiner, who was the factfinder in this manner; and (2) the hearing examiner's account of the evidence was plausible in light of the entire record. View "W. Va. State Police v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of workers' compensation claims determining that Employee's workplace injury did not arise primarily out of and in the course and scope of his employment and granting summary judgment for Employer, holding that the court of workers' compensation claims property granted summary judgment for Employer.Employee was painting the exterior of a house a house while working for Employer on a windy day when he took a break from painting. At one point, he used a portable restroom, not obtained by Employer, located on the street and was struck by a dead tree that had fallen. Employer denied Employee workers' compensation, finding that Employee's injury resulted from an "act of God" and did not arise primarily out of his employment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of workers' compensation claims properly determined that Employee's injuries did not arise primarily out of his employment. View "Rosasco v. West Knoxville Painters, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (the Hospital) terminated the employment of registered nurse Kimberly Wilkin (Wilkin) after discovering she had violated the Hospital’s policies governing the handling and documentation of patient medications. Wilkin sued the Hospital, alleging her discharge constituted disability discrimination, retaliation, and otherwise violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); resulted in the unlawful denial of medical leave and retaliation in violation of the Moore- Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act (CFRA); and constituted a wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Over a year after Wilkin filed her complaint, the Hospital moved for summary judgment, producing undisputed evidence, including Wilkin’s deposition testimony, showing she had violated policies governing the handling of medication, and, for over a year before she was discharged, had been regularly counseled for her chronic absenteeism and other issues. The trial court concluded the Hospital carried its burden of producing evidence showing its decision was based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons. After Wilkin did not produce any evidence showing the Hospital’s reasons were fabricated or otherwise pretextual, the trial court concluded a reasonable trier of fact could not find in favor of Wilkin on any of her claims and granted summary judgment in favor of the Hospital. To this, the Court of Appeal affirmed. "As all of Wilkin’s claims depended on there being a triable issue of fact regarding the lawfulness of her discharge, and our record does not show such a triable issue of fact exists, summary judgment was properly granted." View "Wilkin v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula" on Justia Law

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Reinebold, then 56 years old, applied to be the head baseball coach of Indiana University South Bend (IUSB). After IUSB declined to hire Reinebold, he sued IUSB, Athletic Director Bruce, and Assistant Athletic Director Norris under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed all of Reinebold’s claims with his concession except for his section 1983 claims against Bruce and Norris in their individual capacities. The district court then entered summary judgment in favor of Bruce and Norris, finding that Reinebold did not identify a suitable comparator and did not show that he was intentionally treated differently because of his age.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The hiring committee distinguished Reinebold and his proposed comparator Buysse (age 31) based on their respective performances during their interviews. The evidence shows that Reinebold performed poorly during his phone interview. Buysse performed well. An employer is not required to score a job interview using objective criteria. View "Reinebold v. Bruce" on Justia Law

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In this vaccination dispute, the First Circuit denied the motion brought by Appellants seeking an injunction pending appeal, holding that Appellants were not entitled to the injunction.Appellants, eight employees of Mass General Brigham, Inc. (MGB), challenged MGB's application of its mandatory vaccination policy to them individually. The policy was issued in June 2021 requiring all MGB employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualified for a medical or religious exemption. After Appellants' requests for exemptions were denied and they still refused to get vaccinated, MGB placed them on unpaid leave. Appellants sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that MGB unlawfully denied their individual exemption requests. The district court denied Appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have required Appellants' reinstatement from unpaid leave status. The First Circuit denied Appellants' motion for injunction pending appeal, holding that adequate legal remedies foreclosed injunctive relief. View "Together Employees v. Mass General Brigham Inc." on Justia Law

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Fried worked as a manicurist, 2005-2017. Fried complained about female manicurists receiving most of the appointments and that other male manicurists also complained. In 2017, Fried became frustrated and threw a pencil at a computer because customers were requesting female manicurists more often than male manicurists. His manager disciplined him and commented that he might want to find other work. He alleges that his coworkers and customers made harassing comments and that he was told to finish a pedicure for a male customer who had solicited him for sex. Fried filed suit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, alleging sex discrimination, retaliation, and hostile environment.The Ninth Circuit reversed the summary judgment against Fried. A reasonable factfinder could decide that Fried’s employer created a hostile work environment. An employer can create a hostile work environment by failing to take immediate and corrective action in response to a coworker’s or third party’s sexual harassment or racial discrimination that the employer knew or should have known about. While comments made by a manager and coworkers on two occasions were insufficiently severe or pervasive to support a hostile work environment claim, an employer’s response to unwelcome sexual advances toward an employee can independently create a hostile work environment. Fried’s manager failed to take immediate corrective action and also directed Fried to return to the customer and complete his pedicure. The district court should reconsider the cumulative effect of the coworkers’ comments. View "Fried v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 1972, P&A signed a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Local 15024. In the early 1980s, according to P&A, Local 825 pressured P&A to employ them instead. P&A created Utility Systems to hire Local 825 workers. Utility signed a CBA with Local 825. In 2016-2018, Utility subcontracted a number of construction projects to P&A, which used its workers from Local 15024 on those jobs. Local 825 brought grievances against Utility. P&A feared that if Local 825’s arbitrator ruled that Utility’s subcontractors must use Local 825 workers, that might force P&A to violate its CBA with Local 15024. P&A and Utility filed suit, requesting an order compelling joint arbitration with both employers and both unions. The district court held that it could enforce joint arbitration under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(a), but that it would be inappropriate here because there was an insufficient risk that P&A and Utility would face conflicting arbitration awards simultaneously granting the same jobs to both unions. It also determined that P&A and Utility could not be deemed a single or joint employer.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Joint arbitration is available under the Act as a general matter, either before or after the bipartite arbitration award at issue has become final, but the employers here which are two at least nominally separate companies, cannot invoke that general rule. View "P&A Construction Inc v. International Union of Operating Engineers" on Justia Law