Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The question before the Ninth Circuit was "simple:" could an employer justify a wage differential between male and female employees by relying on prior salary? Based on the text, history, and purpose of the Equal Pay Act, the Court determined the answer was clearly "no." Prior to the Court's decision here, the law was unclear whether an employer could consider prior salary, either alone or in combination with other factors, when setting its employees’ salaries. The Ninth Circuit took this case en banc in order to clarify the law, and held prior salary alone or in combination with other factors could not justify a wage differential. "To hold otherwise - to allow employers to capitalize on the persistence of the wage gap and perpetuate that gap ad infinitum - would be contrary to the text and history of the Equal Pay Act, and would vitiate the very purpose for which the Act stands." The Fresno County Office of Education (“the County”) did not dispute that it paid Aileen Rizo (“Rizo”) less than comparable male employees for the same work. However, it argued this wage differential was lawful under the Equal Pay Act. The County contended that the wage differential was based on a fourth, "catchall exception: a 'factor other than sex.'” The Ninth Circuit surmised this would allow the County to defend a sex-based salary differential on the basis of the very sex-based salary differentials the Equal Pay Act was designed to cure. Because the Court concluded that prior salary did not constitute a “factor other than sex,” the County failed as a matter of law to set forth an affirmative defense. The Court affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment to the County and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rizo v. Yovino" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the union's petition for review of the Board's order declining to award make-whole relief. This case arose when the now-defunct Hacienda Resort Hotel and Casino and Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas violated section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(5), by unilaterally terminating the union's dues-checkoff without bargaining to agreement or impasse. The panel held that the Board clearly abused its discretion in declining to award the standard remedy of make-whole relief where it did not provide a valid explanation for departing from its standard remedy in dues-checkoff cases, and where the Board effectively ordered no relief at all by ordering prospective-only relief against defunct entities. The panel vacated the Board's order and remanded for the Board to award standard make-whole relief. View "Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the union's petition for review of the Board's order declining to award make-whole relief. This case arose when the now-defunct Hacienda Resort Hotel and Casino and Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas violated section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(5), by unilaterally terminating the union's dues-checkoff without bargaining to agreement or impasse. The panel held that the Board clearly abused its discretion in declining to award the standard remedy of make-whole relief where it did not provide a valid explanation for departing from its standard remedy in dues-checkoff cases, and where the Board effectively ordered no relief at all by ordering prospective-only relief against defunct entities. The panel vacated the Board's order and remanded for the Board to award standard make-whole relief. View "Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed suit under the Whistleblower Protection Act against the Department of Defense, alleging that the Department took several adverse personnel actions against him in retaliation for his protected disclosures about misconduct at the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for review of the Board's adverse decision. The panel considered all the Carr factors (Carr v. Social Security Administration, 185 F.3d 1318, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 1999)), and held that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that the agency proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have taken the same disciplinary action against petitioner in the absence of his whistleblowing activities. The panel also held that the administrative judge did not abuse its discretion by excluding witnesses, as well as documents and emails. View "Duggan v. Department of Defense" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendants, alleging that her termination from the police department violated her constitutional rights to privacy and intimate association. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff has put forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on her section 1983 claim for violation of her constitutional rights to privacy and intimate association. In this case, a genuine factual dispute existed as to whether defendants terminated plaintiff at least in part on the basis of her extramarital affair. Furthermore, these rights were clearly established at the time. Therefore, the panel reversed the district court's grant of qualified immunity on her privacy claim and remanded that claim for further proceedings. The panel affirmed summary judgment on plaintiff's due process claim because any due process rights she might have had were not clearly established at the time of the challenged action, and thus defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, the panel affirmed summary judgment on plaintiff's sex discrimination claim because the evidence indicated that defendants' disapproval of her extramarital affair, rather than gender discrimination, was the cause of her termination. View "Perez v. City of Roseville" on Justia Law

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The absence of federal law is not a prerequisite to adopting state law as surrogate federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1333(a)(2)(A). The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of an action alleging wage and hour violations under California law. The panel rejected the proposition that "necessity to fill a significant void or gap," was required in order to assimilate "applicable and not inconsistent," state law into federal law governing drilling platforms affixed to the outer Continental Shelf. Finally, the panel vacated the dismissal of claims brought under California's meal period, final pay, and pay stubs laws. The panel remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court shall determined whether these laws were "not inconsistent" with the existing federal law. View "Newton v. Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of California: 1. Under the California Labor Code and applicable regulations, is an employer of ambulance attendants working twenty-four hour shifts required to relieve attendants of all duties during rest breaks, including the duty to be available to respond to an emergency call if one arises during a rest period? 2. Under the California Labor Code and applicable regulations, may an employer of ambulance attendants working twenty-four hour shifts require attendants to be available to respond to emergency calls during their meal periods without a written agreement that contains an on duty meal period revocation clause? If such a clause is required, will a general at-will employment clause satisfy this requirement? 3. Do violations of meal period regulations, which require payment of a "premium wage" for each improper meal period, give rise to claims under sections 203 and 225 of the California Labor Code where the employer does not include the premium wage in the employee's pay or pay statements during the course of the violations? View "Stewart v. San Luis Ambulance, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of defendant's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on a claim of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Oregon state law and the grant in part of plaintiff's motion for an award of attorney's fees. The panel held that the district court's instructional error by conflating the elements of plaintiff's disparate treatment and failure to accommodate claim was harmless where it was more probable than not that the jury's verdict was not affected. The panel also held that, construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the evidence supported the jury's verdict. In this case, the record reflected that plaintiff satisfied her burden to prove the existence of reasonable accommodations that would enable her to perform the essential job functions of her position. Finally, the district court adequately explained and calculated the attorney fee award and did not abuse its discretion. View "Dunlap v. Liberty Mutual Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the "economic reality" test, cosmetology and hair design students were not employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) even though they alleged that much of their time was spent in menial and unsupervised work. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant, holding that a primary beneficiary analysis, rather than a test formulated by the Department of Labor, applied in the context of student workers. The panel reasoned that the students, not defendant's schools, were the primary beneficiaries of their own labors. The panel also held that the students were not employees entitled to be paid under Nevada or California law. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by striking declarations as sanction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. View "Benjamin v. B&H Education, Inc." on Justia Law

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The relevant unit for determining minimum-wage compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the workweek as a whole, rather than each individual hour within the workweek. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by call center workers under the FLSA. The panel held that, under the workweek standard, Xerox complied with the minimum-wage provision, and plaintiffs concede that their overtime claims rise or fall with their minimum-wage claims. View "Douglas v. Xerox Business Services" on Justia Law