Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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District courts have discretion to award the equitable relief of a "gross-up" adjustment to compensate for increased income-tax liability resulting from a plaintiff's receipt of a back-pay award in one lump sum. In this case, the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying plaintiff a tax adjustment of a damages award in a Title VII case. The jury awarded damages for back pay and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. The district court refused to consider adjusting plaintiff's lump sum back-pay award to account for the corresponding increse in his tax liability. The panel reversed and remanded for further proceedings, and addressed other issues in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition. View "Clements, Jr. v. CenturyLink Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. 4311(a), arguing that when he returned from service in the U.S. Air Force, FedEx improperly paid him a $7,400 bonus instead of the $17,700 bonus he would have earned had he not served. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision awarding plaintiff the higher signing bonus and attorney's fees. The panel held that arbitration was not required in this case; the district court properly used the reasonable certainty test to determine that plaintiff showed by a preponderance of the evidence that his military service was a "substantial or motivating factor" to cause an adverse employment action; the district court properly relied on the the escalator principle, which provides that a returning service member should not be removed from the progress of his career trajectory; the district court did not clearly err in finding that plaintiff was reasonably certain to have achieved the higher bonus status had he not left for his military service; the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's bonus was, in part, a seniority-based benefit; and even if the signing bonus were not a seniority-based benefit, Section 4316 still would not bar plaintiff's claim. View "Huhmann v. Federal Express Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the denial of petitioner's unfair labor practice complaint. The panel held that the NLRB properly applied a new standard for deferring to arbitral decisions only prospectively. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the arbitral decision under the previous deferral standard. The panel applied a five-factor analysis in Montgomery Ward & Co. v. FTC, 691 F.2d 1322, 1333 (9th Cir. 1982), to balance the interests in considering retroactive application of a new standard and held that the NLRB properly applied the new standard only prospectively. Although petitioner's case was one of first impression before the Board, the other four factors of the retroactivity test substantially outweighed that one factor. View "Beneli v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order granting petitions for panel rehearing, denied petitions for rehearing en banc, withdrawing the opinion, and directing the filing of a new opinion. The panel also filed a new opinion, holding that the City of Los Angeles, which operates LAX, can require businesses at the airport to accept certain contractual conditions aimed at preventing service disruptions. One such condition, section 25, requires service providers to enter a "labor peace agreement" with any employee organization that requests one. The panel reasoned that the City was acting as a market participant when it added section 25 to its LAX licensing contract, and the preemption provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), did not apply to state and local governmental actions taken as a market participant. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' preemption claim for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Furthermore, the district court did not err by denying leave to amend. View "Airline Service Providers Assoc. v. L.A. World Airports" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three officers of Latino descent, filed suit against the City and Westminster Police Chiefs, alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race and religion. The jury awarded plaintiffs general and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and costs. The panel held that the district court properly denied the City's motion for a new trial and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether Plaintiff Flores failed to establish his claim of retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov't Code 12900–12996. In this case, the evidence at trial would permit a trier of fact to conclude he was subjected to adverse employment actions, that his protected conduct was a substantial motivating factor behind the adverse employment actions, and that the City's proffered reasons for its actions were pretextual. Accordingly, the panel affirmed as to this issue and also affirmed the jury's award of damages to Officer Flores on the FEHA retaliation claim. The panel further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in regard to evidentiary rulings, and the jury's verdict against two police chiefs for race discrimination was not fatally inconsistent. However, the panel vacated the judgment against Chief Mitchell Waller, who died before trial, and remanded to the district court to grant two officers leave to substitute the Chief's estate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a)(1). View "Flores v. City of Westminster" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Board's determination that CVMC committed serious and widespread unfair labor practices before and after the Union election in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The panel also granted the Union's petition for review of an issue regarding whether CVMC's written policy banning employees from communicating with the media should be rescinded as an unfair labor practice. In this case, CVMC's meritless due process argument did not preclude summary enforcement of the Board's order; CVMC violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) by firing an employee; CVMC violated Section 8(a)(1) by serving subpoenas seeking information about confidential union activity protected by Section 7; CVMC's unfair labor practices warranted the Board's remedy of a reading order; and remand was appropriate for the Board to address an unfair labor practice that was litigated and closely connected to the complaint. View "United Nurses Associations of California v. NLRB" on Justia Law