Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an appeal by Growers against members of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board who promulgated a regulation allowing union organizers access to agricultural employees at employer worksites under specific circumstances. Growers sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the access regulation, as applied to them, was unconstitutional. The panel held that the access regulation as applied to the Growers did not amount to a per se physical taking of their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment. In this case, the Growers did not suffer a permanent physical invasion that would constitute a per se taking. The panel also held that the Growers have not plausibly alleged that the access regulation effects a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. View "Cedar Point Nursery v. Shiroma" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of a complaint brought by a putative class of plaintiffs against an international business that had developed a sophisticated three-tier franchising model. The panel held that Dynamex Ops. W. Inc. v. Superior Court, 416 P.3d 1 (Cal. 2018), which adopted the ABC test for determining whether workers are independent contractors or employees under California wage order laws, applies retroactively and that none of Jan-Pro's other efforts to avoid reaching the merits were viable. Therefore, the case was remanded for the district court to consider the case on the merits in light of Dynamex. View "Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Hearsay does not include statements offered against a party, made by that party's employee on a matter within the scope of the employee's employment, so long as the statement was made while the employee was still employed by that party. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred by granting summary judgment to Frontier regarding plaintiff's failure-to-promote claim, because the district court excluded such a statement proffered by plaintiff on hearsay grounds. However, the panel held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Frontier on plaintiff's termination claim because he failed to produce evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact regarding the claim. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Weil v. Citizens Telecom Services Co." on Justia Law

by
To be "final" for purposes of 33 U.S.C. 921(d), an order must at a minimum specify the amount of compensation due or provide a means of calculating the correct amount without resort to extra-record facts. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action against Vortex, seeking enforcement of a Department of Labor order requiring payment of plaintiff's future medical expenses under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The panel held that the district court correctly found that it lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's section 921(d) enforcement claim. In this case, the ALJ's order stated that Vortex must pay or reimburse plaintiff, but did not list an amount to be paid or a means of calculating what Vortex owed. The panel also held that the district court correctly rejected plaintiff's Medicare Secondary Payer Act claim as premature. View "Grimm v. Vortex Marine Construction" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Salvation Army, in an employment discrimination action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The panel held that the religious organization exemption (ROE) applied to the Salvation Army; the ROE reached claims for retaliation and hostile work environment; and the ROE barred plaintiff's claims because the ROE was nonjurisdictional and subject to procedural forfeiture, and may be first raised at summary judgment absent prejudice. Absent prejudice resulting from the failure to timely raise the defense, the panel held that the Salvation Army permissibly invoked the ROE at summary judgment and it foreclosed plaintiff's Title VII claims. The panel also held that plaintiff failed to make out a claim under the ADA because the Salvation Army was under no obligation to engage in an interactive process in the absence of a disability. In this case, after plaintiff's clearance for work, she failed to show that she was disabled. View "Garcia v. Salvation Army" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Board's decision upholding the ALJ's decision striking, as untimely, a petition for payment of a claimant's attorneys' fees under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The panel held that the ALJ properly used the excusable neglect standard in evaluating the circumstances for the untimely fee petition, and applied the four-factor test in Pioneer Investment Services Co. v. Brunswick Associates Ltd. Partnership, 507 U.S. 378 (1993), to find that there was no excusable neglect in this case. View "Iopa v. Saltchuk-Young Brothers, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
Bio-Rad and its CEO appealed a jury verdict in favor of the company's former general counsel finding that defendants violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Dodd-Frank Act, and California public policy by terminating general counsel's employment in retaliation. General counsel produced an internal report that he believed Bio-Rad had engaged in serious and prolonged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in China. The Ninth Circuit vacated in part and held that the district court erred by instructing the jury that statutory provisions of the FCPA constitute rules or regulations of the SEC for purposes of whether general counsel engaged in protected activity under section 806 of the SOX. However, the panel rejected Bio-Rad's argument that no properly instructed jury could return a SOX verdict in favor of general counsel. The panel held that the district court's SOX instructional error was harmless and affirmed as to the California public policy claim. The panel remanded for further consideration. View "Wadler v. Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The common-law agency test is the most appropriate test for determining whether an entity is a joint employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC brought an enforcement action under Title VII on behalf of Thai workers alleging discrimination charges against Green Acre Farms and Valley Fruit Orchards. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the EEOC's allegations regarding non-orchard-related matters, which in turn affected each of the other decisions under review. The panel held, under the common-law agency test, that the EEOC plausibly alleged that defendants were also joint employers with respect to non-orchard-related matters; the EEOC's allegations stated a plausible basis for holding Green Acre liable for discrimination relating to non-orchard-related matters; and the district court should have granted the EEOC leave to amend its complaint regarding Valley Fruit's liability with respect to such matters. View "EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for BNSF in an action brought by a former employee under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). The district court instructed the jury that BNSF could not be liable if it terminated the employee due to an "honest belief" that he violated the company's safety rules. The panel held that the "honest belief" jury instruction was inconsistent with the FRSA's clear statutory mandate and the panel's prior caselaw. The panel held that, although the FRSA's prohibition on discriminating against an employee ultimately requires a showing of the employer's discriminatory or retaliatory intent, FRSA plaintiffs satisfied that burden by proving that their protected activity was a contributing factor to the adverse employment decision. Therefore, there was no requirement, at either the prima facie stage or the substantive stage, that a plaintiff make any additional showing of discriminatory intent. View "Frost v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, a former employee of Irwin, filed a putative class action alleging that the company denied him overtime pay, failed to give him meal and rest periods, and failed to pay him minimum wage for the 12 hours he was off duty. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff's claim for overtime pay was preempted under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), because California overtime law did not apply to an employee working under a qualifying collective bargaining agreement and he worked under such an agreement. The panel remanded plaintiff's remaining claims to the district court for it to address them in the first instance. View "Curtis v. Irwin Industries, Inc." on Justia Law