Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

by
Flight Options announced that it would merge with Flexjet. The Teamsters Union already represented Options' pilots. Flexjet pilots elected the Teamsters to represent them. The existing Options collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) requires the parties to modify the agreement “to permit the integration” of new pilots within nine months; if they reach an impasse, they must submit to binding arbitration. However, the CBA became “amendable” under the Railway Labor Act after the merger, so that either party could propose broad changes affecting the pilots’ rates of pay and working conditions, 45 U.S.C. 156, by serving a “Section 6” notice. The union served a Section 6 notice before the parties began their CBA negotiations. The airlines maintain that they must resolve their CBA negotiations before turning to the Section 6 proposals. The union argues that both negotiations should happen simultaneously. The union obtained a preliminary injunction ordering the airlines to bargain the Section 6 proposals in good faith. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court incorrectly assumed the parties’ dispute over the order of negotiations was “major” under the Act, and, therefore, required good-faith bargaining. Given that the airlines’ claim is consistent with the CBA and the union has failed to identify any contradictory language, the dispute is minor; Whether the terms of the CBA allow the airlines to delay Section 6 negotiations must be determined in arbitration. View "Flight Options, LLC v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1108" on Justia Law

by
Gregg has a compensation policy whereby its retail and sales employees, who are paid solely on the basis of commission, are advanced a “draw” to meet the minimum-wage requirements whenever their commissions fall below minimum wage. The amount of the draw is then deducted from future earnings in weeks when the employees’ commissions exceed the minimum-wage requirements. Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and other former and current Gregg employees, brought suit claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law. The district court found that defendants’ compensation policy was legal and dismissed all of plaintiffs’ federal claims. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The district court incorrectly applied the retail or service establishment exemption, which relieves employers from only their overtime obligations, 29 U.S.C. 207(i). Department of Labor regulations state that when an employee earns less in commissions than he was advanced through a draw, “a deduction of the excess amount from commission earnings for a subsequent period, if otherwise lawful, may or may not be customary under the employment arrangement,” 29 C.F.R. 779.416. Plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to indicate that Gregg violated the FLSA by policies and practices that encouraged employees to work “off the clock” without compensation View "Stein v. hhgregg Inc." on Justia Law

by
Mullendore served as the Belding, Michigan City Manager, beginning in April 2013. During her tenure, she was involved in political disputes and a newly-elected city council member advocated termination of her at-will employment. On January 6 2015, she gave notice that she would be taking time off due to a surgery, scheduled for January 15, indicating that she would be able to work remotely while recovering. The city purchased a laptop for her use in working from home. Mullendore stated that she would not seek medical leave and declined to complete the city’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA, 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(1)) paperwork. While she was recovering, the city council voted to terminate her employment, citing her role in causing political strife in the community. She sued under the FMLA. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, holding that Mullendore had not given sufficient notice that she would be taking FMLA leave and that the defendants also provided a non-discriminatory reason for the termination. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. An employee lawfully may be dismissed, preventing him from exercising his statutory rights to FMLA leave or reinstatement, if the dismissal would have occurred regardless of the employee’s request for or taking of FMLA leave. View "Mullendore v. City of Belding" on Justia Law

by
The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed by the Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) and Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA) provided that if an employee believed that they were discriminated against, that employee could file a grievance with JCBE; if the employee subsequently filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the grievance proceedings would be held in abeyance. Watford filed a grievance on the day she was terminated (October 13, 2010) and those proceedings are still in abeyance. Watford sued, alleging that JCBE and JCTA retaliated against her for filing an EEOC charge. The district court awarded the defendants summary judgment, The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding the judgment inconsistent with prior holdings that “an adverse action against [an] employee because the employee had pursued the statutorily protected activity of filing a charge with the EEOC” is “clearly” retaliation. The CBA is retaliatory on its face. View "Watford v. Jefferson County Public Schools" on Justia Law

by
The Ohio Department of Health cited Carlton Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center for health and safety violations. Carlton hired Sovran Management to help turn things around. When that failed, the nursing home closed. McKinney, a former employee, sought back pay in a purported class action under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires “employer[s]” to give their employees 60 days’ notice before they “order” the closing of a company, 29 U.S.C. 2102. Carlton defaulted but had no assets. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment for Sovran. Carlton, not Sovran, was the employer and decided to close the facility. Only “employer[s]” that “order” a plant closing face regulation by the Act or liability under it. View "McKinney v. Carlton Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Crosby, a tenured professor at the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law, claiming that his removal as Department Chair amounted to a deprivation of his protected property and liberty interests without due process of law. He claimed that the defendants were not protected by qualified immunity and were liable under contract law for monetary damages. Before his removal, Crosby had been investigated for being “[v]olatile,” “explosive,” “disrespectful,” “very condescending,” and “out of control.” The report included an allegation that Crosby stated that the Associate Dean for Research had been appointed “because she is a woman, genitalia” and contained claims that the Department’s performance was suffering as a result of Crosby’s temper and hostility toward other departments. The University declined Crosby’s request to handle his appeal under a proposed Governing Regulation and stated that existing regulations would apply. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of his claims.Crosby identified no statute, formal contract, or contract implied from the circumstances that supports his claim to a protected property interest in his position as Chair; “the unlawfulness” of the defendants’ actions was not apparent “in the light of pre-existing law,” so they were entitled to qualified immunity. View "Crosby v. University of Kentucky" on Justia Law

by
The Unions represents the pilots of merged airlines Flight Options and Flexjet. Flight Options and its pilots have had a collective bargaining agreement since 2010, while Flexjet’s pilots are newly unionized and are not yet party to a CBA. The parties dispute whether the integration of the pilot groups’ seniority lists (ISL) is solely a Union matter, so that the airlines must accept the Union's list or whether the airlines should have been allowed to participate in negotiating the list. The 2010 CBA governs the creation of the ISL when Flight Options acquires another carrier. The district court, acting under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 152, entered a preliminary injunction ordering the airlines to accept the Union’s ISL. On appeal, the airlines argued that the dispute was “minor” and subject to exclusive arbitral jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. The 2010 CBA does not arguably justify the airlines' assertion that they have a right to participate in the ISL process; the dispute is major. The district court properly enjoined the airlines to honor the express terms of the CBA, but those terms provide that if the airlines refuse to accept the Union’s proffered ISL, the Union may invoke an expedited grievance-arbitration process, which uniquely applies to such disputes. The court ordered modification of the injunction accordingly. View "Flight Options v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters" on Justia Law

by
In 2009, Williamson, an Army veteran and U.S. postal worker, began experiencing pain in his right foot. He usually worked a walking route, walking up to eight miles per day on the job. He was also doing other physical activity, including running and CrossFit, which could have contributed to his injury. He eventually received benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA): $79,379.66 in temporary total disability net compensation from March 20, 2010 through October 25, 2012; $27,801.27 for medical expenses; and $19,974.19 as a lump-sum “schedule award.” Williamson then sought damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for medical malpractice by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the treatment of his injuries, which included two unsuccessful surgeries. The district court denied the government’s motion for summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Liability under FECA is “exclusive” of “all other liability of the United States” to the employee “under a Federal tort liability statute,” 5 U.S.C. 8116(c) (2012). Because this exclusion applies broadly even when a work-related injury has been negligently treated by an entirely non-work-related federal hospital, Williamson may not recover under the FTCA. View "Williamson v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs brought suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act against their employer, FTS, a cable-television business for which the plaintiffs work or worked as cable technicians. The district court certified the case as an FLSA collective action. FTS Technicians are paid pursuant to a piece-rate compensation plan; each assigned job is worth a set amount of pay, regardless of the amount of time it takes. FTS Technicians are paid by applying a .5 multiplier to their regular rate for overtime hours. They allege that FTS implemented a time-shaving policy that required its employees to systematically underreport overtime hours. A jury returned verdicts in favor of the class, which the district court upheld. The Sixth Circuit affirmed certification of the case as a collective action and a finding that sufficient evidence supports the verdicts, but reversed the calculation of damages. Following a remand by the Supreme Court, for further consideration in light of Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo (2016), the Sixth Circuit held that Tyson does not compel a different resolution; the court again affirmed certification of the case as a collective action and that sufficient evidence supports the jury’s verdicts, and again for recalculation of damages. View "Monroe v. FTS USA, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Matovski, a UPS operations manager who has a disability, filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, claiming that UPS discriminated and retaliated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12112(d). Matovski claims that UPS published confidential medical information about him and other employees on its intranet page. The EEOC investigation resulted in a subpoena that requested information about how UPS stored and disclosed employee medical information. UPS opposed the subpoena, claiming that the requested information was irrelevant to Matovski’s charge. The district court granted an application to enforce the subpoena. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The information that the EEOC requested “relates to unlawful employment practices” covered by the ADA. UPS has not shown that the subpoena is burdensome in any material way. View "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Parcel Service,Inc." on Justia Law