Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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No provision with the force of law permits the Department of Labor to require employers to engage in time tracking and accounting for minutes spent in diverse tasks before claiming a tip credit. The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's final orders and judgments in favor of defendants in an action brought by former servers and bartenders under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1)(c). Plaintiffs alleged that their employers improperly claimed their tips as a credit toward the required minimum wage. The panel held that the DOL's interpretation, in its Field Operations Handbook, of 29 C.F.R. 531.56(e), a regulation addressing application of the FLSA's tip credit provision to the situation in which an employee works for an employer in two different jobs, did not merit controlling deference because the DOL's interpretation was inconsistent with the dual jobs regulation and attempted to create de facto a new regulation. In this case, plaintiffs could not state a claim under section 206 by alleging that discrete "related" tasks or duties, which were performed intermittently over the course of the day and were intermingled with their duties directed at generating tips, comprise a dual job when aggregated together over the course of a workweek. The panel remanded to allow plaintiffs opportunities to propose new amended complaints. View "Marsh v. J. Alexander's LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiff in an action filed under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq. The panel held that the district court properly instructed the jury that the vessel owner owed a duty to plaintiff as a longshoreman to turn over the ship and its equipment in a reasonably safe condition, which necessarily required the vessel owner to take reasonable steps to inspect the ship and equipment before turnover; the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing plaintiff's key scientific expert to describe his theory of electrical injury because the district court adequately assessed the reliability of his theory and fulfilled its gatekeeping function under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579; and there was no error in admitting the medical experts' testimony. View "Murray v. Southern Route Maritime SA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against BNSF, alleging that the company terminated him in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov. Code 12940 et seq. The Ninth Circuit applied the McDonnell Douglas test and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to BNSF, holding that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination based on his obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) where no evidence established that plaintiff's OSA was a substantial motivating reason for BNSF's decision to terminate him. Even if plaintiff had made a prima facie case of discrimination, plaintiff failed to offer evidence that BNSF's stated reason -- recurrent absenteeism -- was either false or pretextual. Therefore, BNSF did not engage in unlawful discrimination by declining to alter plaintiff's disciplinary outcome based on his OSA diagnosis. Finally, the panel rejected plaintiff's claim that BNSF failed to provide a reasonable accommodation and interactive process claims. View "Alamillo v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law