Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The zone of special danger doctrine can apply to local nationals working in their home countries under employment contracts covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as extended by the Defense Base Act (DBA). The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of a decision of the United States Department of Labor's Benefits Review Board (BRB) awarding disability benefits, pursuant to the DBA, to Edwin Jentil. Jentil was employed by a U.S. government contractor when he was injured. The panel held that the ALJ and BRB did not commit legal error by applying the zone of special danger doctrine to Jetnil. In this case, substantial evidence supported the ALJ and BRB's decision that Jetnil was entitled to disability benefits because his injury arose out of the zone of special danger associated with his employment. View "Chugach Management Services v. Jetnil" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and a class of underwriters, filed suit seeking overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. The Ninth Circuit applied the analysis used by the Second Circuit and held that, because the mortgage underwriters' primary job duty does not relate to the bank's management or general business operations, the administrative employee exemption under 29 U.S.C. 213(a)(1) and 29 C.F.R. 541.200(a) does not apply. Therefore, the underwriters in this case were not entitled to overtime compensation. View "McKeen-Chaplin v. Provident Savings Bank" on Justia Law

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The passage of Assembly Bill 97, a massive reform package designed to streamline public education financing and decentralize education governance, did not abrogate the Ninth Circuit's decisions in which the panel held that California school districts and county offices of education (COEs) are "arms of the state" entitled to state sovereign immunity. Applying the factors set forth in Mitchell v. Los Angeles Community College District, 861 F.2d 198, the panel held that school districts and COEs in California remain arms of the state and cannot face suit. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit against the Orange County Department of Education where plaintiff alleged claims related to his termination with the Department. View "Sato v. Orange County Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Neiman Marcus, alleging interference with the exercise of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12203(b). The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order finding this action moot and granting summary judgment to Neiman Marcus. The panel held that section 12203 authorized the district court to award nominal damages as equitable relief to plaintiff. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Bayer v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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An employer's attorney can be held liable for retaliating against his client's employee because the employee sued his client for violations of workplace law. In this case, plaintiff may proceed with his retaliation action against the attorney under sections 215(a)(3) and 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3) and 216(b), because the complaint manifestly fell within the purview, purpose, and plain language of the FLSA. The court explained that the wage and hours provisions of the FLSA focus on de facto employers, but the anti-retaliation provision refers to "any person" who retaliates. View "Arias v. Raimondo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Fire District, a subdivision of Arizona, alleging that it violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621-34. The district court granted the Fire District's motion for summary judgment, concluding that it was not an "employer" within the meaning of the ADEA. The Ninth Circuit held that the meaning of section 630(b) was not ambiguous and thus the district court erred in concluding that the twenty-employee minimum applied to political subdivisions. Even if the panel agreed with the First District and concluded that the statute was ambiguous, the outcome would not change. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Guido v. Mount Lemmon Fire District" on Justia Law

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After American filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it sought to reject and to renegotiate its collective bargaining agreements with TWU. American and TWU negotiated new agreements, including an early separation program. TWU members who took advantage of the Early Separation Program filed two putative class-actions alleging that TWU breached its duty of fair representation by excluding them from the bulk of the equity distribution. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the consolidated actions, holding that TWU did not breach its duty of fair representation. In this case, TWU's equity distribution scheme was not arbitrary; the allegations of discrimination were implausible; and TWU did not act in bad faith. View "Demetris v. Transport Workers Union of America" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff discovered that she was payed less than her male counterparts for the same work, she filed suit under the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5; and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code 12940. The County conceded that it paid plaintiff less than comparable male employees for the same work, but raised an affirmative defense to a claim under the Equal Pay Act that the differential was "based on any other factor other than sex." In this case, the County claimed that the pay differential was a result of prior salary. The court concluded that Kouba v. Allstate Insurance Co. is controlling in this case. Kouba held that prior salary can be a factor other than sex, provided that the employer shows that prior salary effectuates some business policy and that the employer uses prior salary reasonably in light of its stated purpose as well as its other practices. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's denial of the County's motion for summary judgment, remanding with instructions for the district court to evaluate the business reasons offered by the County and to determine whether the County used prior salary reasonably in light of its stated purposes as well as its other practices. View "Rizo v. Yovino" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a 53-year-old garbage truck driver, filed suit against USA Waste, his employer of 32 years, alleging wrongful termination based on age discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for USA Waste. The court held that the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of USA Waste because plaintiff established a prima facie case under both his age discrimination and retaliation theories, and USA Waste failed to introduce any evidence that it had a legitimate reason for firing him. In this case, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Pub.L. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, did not require proof of employment eligibility from plaintiff, and USA Waste could not make plaintiff's reinstatement contingent on verification of his immigration status because doing so would violate California public policy. Furthermore, plaintiff's use of an attorney was activity protected by California public policy, USA Waste fired plaintiff because he was represented by his attorney at the Settlement Agreement negotiations, and the district court erred by holding that USA Waste provided a legitimate reason for firing plaintiff. Therefore, the court concluded that USA Waste failed to meet its burden as to plaintiff's claim based on retaliation discrimination. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied plaintiff's oral request for leave to amend the complaint eight months after the filing deadline. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Santillan v. USA Waste of California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Matteo Brunozzi and Casey McCormick, technicians for CCI, filed separate suits alleging that CCI's compensation plan violated the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 207, and Oregon's statutory requirement that an employer pay all wages earned and unpaid after terminating an employee, ORS 652.140. Brunozzi also alleged additional claims under Oregon law. The district court granted summary judgment for CCI. The court held that CCI's pay plan violated the FLSA's overtime provisions. In this case, the diminishing "bonus" device in CCI's pay plan caused it to miscalculate the technicians' regular hourly rate during weeks when they work overtime and allowed CCI to pay the technicians less during those weeks. Consequently, the court reversed as to this issue and also reversed as to plaintiffs' claim under ORS 652.140. Having examined the text, context, and pertinent legislative history, the court found that the Oregon legislature intended the term "reported" in ORS 659A.199 to mean a report of information to either an external or internal authority. In this case, Brunozzi complained to his supervisors on several occasions that he was not being properly compensated for overtime. Therefore, the court reversed as to Brunozzi's retaliation claim under ORS 659A.199. The court also reversed as to Brunozzi's retaliation claim under ORS 652.355 where the act of complaining about inadequate wages was a protected activity. View "Brunozzi v. Cable Communications, Inc." on Justia Law