Latest Labor and Employment Cases for June 5, 2018

From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...

The following are summaries of the latest court and National Labor Relations Board rulings involving labor law, wage and hour, discrimination, disabilities and individual employment rights, prepared by Bloomberg Law legal editors.

LABOR

Arbitration

A construction company must comply with an arbitration award finding that it violated a labor contract by performing work at the War Memorial Building in San Francisco with workers who weren’t members of a local union. A lower court properly refused to vacate the award because the company had waived its challenge to the arbitrability of the grievance and hadn’t shown that the arbitrator ignored controlling law, a federal appeals court said (Pioneer Roofing Org. v. Local Joint Adjustment Smart Bd. Local 104, 2018 BL 196465, 9th Cir., 17-15296 No. 17-15782, unpublished 6/4/18).

Airline Employees

A former airline employee can’t go forward with his claims that he was wrongfully fired for allegedly forging entries on a worker’s compensation form and that his union didn’t fairly represent him in his grievance. Because he alleges that specific conduct violated a labor contract, this is a “minor dispute” that must be submitted to arbitration under the Railway Labor Act (Schwartz v. IAM Dist. 141 & United Airlines, 2018 BL 196122, D. Minn., 17-cv-0717 (WMW/KMM) Case No. 17-cv-0717 (WMW/KMM), 6/4/18).

WAGE & HOUR

Settlement Agreements

A Kansas electrical contracting company employee can’t settle her collective action claiming that administrative staff weren’t properly paid overtime for rotated “kitchen duty,” even though the company’s agreement to pay a total of $10,000 to settle her disputed claims is fair and reasonable, because the employee didn’t explain what she did to deserve a proposed $1,000 service award (Smith v. R.F. Fisher Elec. Co., 2018 BL 196024, D. Kan., 17-2457-DDC-KGG, 6/4/18).

Class Certification

Ex-employees of a Wisconsin concrete contractor can go ahead with their state-law class action claiming that they should have been paid for travel time to jobsites and challenging the company’s overtime policies, because they say that 40 workers share the claim that an unofficial policy requires them to report to the shop each morning to receive their job assignments and the fact that they can also go ahead with their federal collective action doesn’t stop them from pursuing their state action (Laughlin v. Jim Fischer, Inc., 2018 BL 196687, E.D. Wis., 16-C-1342, 6/4/18).

Settlement Agreements

Sprint Nextel is closer to settling sales representatives’ 10-year-old Kansas wage-law class action claiming that they didn’t get the commissions they earned due to a payroll systems glitch during the Nextel acquisition, because the agreement for the telecommunications company to pay a total of $3.65 million with 23 percent of that amount for attorneys’ fees is fair to the 3,919 class members (Harlow v. Sprint Nextel Corp., 2018 BL 197179, D. Kan., 08-2222-KHV, 6/4/18).

FLSA Coverage

A former caregiver for a Pennsylvania home health care company gave enough information to show that she’s covered by federal wage law for purposes of her unpaid overtime claim, because she said that she used latex gloves, paper, and other goods manufactured out of state, and that is sufficient to show that the company is engaged in interstate commerce (Griffin v. Alysia Home Health Agency, 2018 BL 195895, W.D. Pa., 17-1577, 6/4/18

Wage Payment

Superintendents and other property caretakers for a New York apartment rental company can’t add a claim for the company’s supposed failure to pay their agreed wage rate to their lawsuit for unpaid overtime and minimum wages. Adding the claim would be unproductive, because New York law only permits recovery of full wages as compensation for a wage violation and doesn’t create a separate violation for failure to pay full wages (Contrera v. Langer, 2018 BL 196001, S.D.N.Y., 16 Civ. 3851 (LTS) (GWG), 6/4/18

FMLA Arbitration

An employee of a Texas beef processing company must submit his claim for Family and Medical Leave Act violations to an arbitrator. Although the agreement stated a different name for the company, he didn’t show that it was actually a separate entity from his employer (Lopez v. Kane Beef Processors, LLC, 2018 BL 196539, S.D. Tex., 2:18-CV-80, 6/4/18

DISCRIMINATION

Age Discrimination

In a fired employee’s age-discrimination suit against MT Imports, a court properly allowed evidence of the age of two co-workers in different departments. The employee didn’t specify whose age should be excluded, but the jury was asked whether age had played a role in the firing, not if others were similarly-situated, and the company had fired younger employees (Cular v. MT Imports, Inc., 2018 BL 197488, N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., A-2705-16T1, 6/5/18).

Retaliation

A black female police officer may proceed with her claim that the City of Chicago suspended her in retaliation for complaining about race and sex discrimination. The officer alleged that she was suspended while an investigation of her complaints was ongoing or recently completed and that she was treated more harshly than Caucasian or male police officers under similar circumstances, the court said (Watkins v. City of Chicago, 2018 BL 197585, N.D. Ill., 17 C 2028, 6/5/18).

Age Discrimination

An airline pilots’ union is entitled to summary judgment on the age discrimination claims of protected-age pilot-instructor evaluators who were fired when the union entered into a collective bargaining agreement with an airline which had a policy that required them to be under 65, in order to comply with federal law. Though the evaluators argued that the policy didn’t improve operational safety, there was no indication that it was designed to eliminate older employees, and any e-mails or internal communications that were offered to show age discrimination couldn’t be considered because of evidentiary or relevancy issues (Bader v. Air Line Pilots Ass’n, 2018 BL 195914, N.D. Ill., No. 14 C 6415, 6/4/18).

EEOC Charge

An employee for the Memphis/Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee can’t proceed on his sex discrimination or retaliation claims, because his allegations to support those claims weren’t specifically referenced in his EEOC charge, and he didn’t object within 14 days to the magistrate judge’s order dismissing the claims (Towns v. Memphis/Shelby Cty. Health Dep’t, 2018 BL 196103, W.D. Tenn., 2:17-cv-02626-SHM-tmp, 6/4/18).

Retaliation

A New Jersey state high school employee can’t proceed on her claim that she was reassigned to a less desirable job because of her EEOC charges against the school. Her allegations didn’t make clear whether she dropped the EEOC charges, or, if she didn’t, what the EEOC’s findings were and how they might’ve led to her reassignment (Mohamed v. Atl. Cty. Special Servs. Sch. Dist., 2018 BL 196147, D.N.J., 17-3911 (RBK/KMW), 6/4/18).

Hostile Work Environment

A Hispanic fired IT worker couldn’t proceed with a racial harassment claim against a Texas hospital after getting phone calls with heavy breathing on the other line and threatening texts. He didn’t know who was behind these incidents, and although white senior management allegedly used racial slurs, the insults weren’t directed at him, and the anonymous messages only accused him of siding with management over staff (In re Parkland Health & Hosp. Sys. Litig., 2018 BL 197082, Tex. App., 5th Dist., 05-17-00670-CV, 6/4/18).

Retaliation

A female employee at an Alabama Wal Mart couldn’t show that the company retaliated against her after she complained internally about sex and religious discrimination, because her only allegation was that she was “scolded,” which isn’t a significant enough change in her employment to support the claim (Miller v. Wal-Mart Stores E., LP, 2018 BL 196504, M.D. Ala., No. 2:17-cv-837-GMB, 6/4/18).

Discovery

A former employee may withhold certain handwritten notes between his former attorneys from Sherwin-Williams Company in Connecticut surrounding an alleged settlement agreement the parties entered into on the employee’s racial discrimination and retaliation claims. The notes are protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges because they only include information about a case strategy and an attorney’s thoughts and don’t relate to any discussions about a settlement or settlement authority, the court said (Polk v. Sherwin-Williams Co., 2018 BL 196533, D. Conn., 3:16cv1491(MPS), 6/4/18).

Sex Discrimination

A male fired employee of Nashville Cmty. Care at Bordeaux in Tennessee couldn’t establish a plausible claim for reverse sex discrimination. He didn’t allege having complained about discrimination or that he was replaced by a female, and he didn’t establish that two female employees who were disciplined instead of fired had also engaged in verbal altercations with a supervisor (Burse v. Nashville Cmty. Care at Bordeaux, 2018 BL 197026, M.D. Tenn., 3:17-cv-01117, 6/4/18).

Jurisdiction

A federal district court erred in ruling that it didn’t have jurisdiction to enter final judgment on a black physician’s defeated claims after it dismissed her racial discrimination claim against an operator of a medical center in Florida without prejudice. The joint stipulation to dismiss only one claim of the complaint without prejudice was invalid, because a joint stipulation of voluntary dismissal can only be used to dismiss an action in its entirety, the court said (Perry v. Schumacher Grp. of La., 2018 BL 196296, 11th Cir., 16-15400, 6/4/18).

Hostile Work Environment

In a case against BMW of North America, a black employee can move forward with a claim that she suffered a hostile work environment because of race. The court found evidence of racist remarks made in her presence sufficient to establish a possible inference of harassment, rejecting the company’s argument that most comments she cited weren’t related to race (Savoy v. BMW of N. Am., LLC, 2018 BL 196551, N.D. Ill., 17 C 7225, 6/4/18).

Amendment of Pleadings

In a suit against Juvenile Court of Shelby County Government in Tennessee on race discrimination and retaliation claims, a former employee couldn’t file a second amended complaint to include additional parties and a higher claim for punitive damages. The court found she gave up her chance to name other parties by not including them in her first complaint and that she provided no argument to support an increase in damages (Minner v. Juvenile Court, 2018 BL 196128, W.D. Tenn., Case 2:17-cv-02714-JPM-cgc, 6/4/18).

Remand

In a suit against AT&T for racial discrimination and retaliation, a federal court in Kentucky allowed a black former employee to remand her case back to state court. The court found insufficient evidence to support AT&T’s arguments regarding back wages and compensatory damages, and the employee stipulated through counsel that the amount of money at issue wouldn’t exceed $75,000 (Mooney v. AT&T Corp., 2018 BL 196057, W.D. Ky., 3:18CV-225-CRS, 6/4/18).

DISABILITIES

Hiring

BellSouth didn’t violate the law by not hiring a disabled job applicant because he didn’t complete the application process. He couldn’t show that his incomplete application wasn’t the real reason he wasn’t hired, and it doesn’t matter that he didn’t know everything he had to do to complete the process (Toland v. AT&T Inc., 2018 BL 197546, 11th Cir., 17-14095, unpublished 6/5/18).

INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

Contracts

A police officer may proceed with his claim that Windsor Locks, Connecticut breached his settlement agreement by failing to purchase pension credits for the six-year period before he was rehired and had his full benefits restored. The town says that the six-year limitation period for the officer’s claim began when he was rehired in 1993, but the credits could’ve been purchased at any time, and the alleged breach didn’t occur until 2013 (Bracken v. Town of Windsor Locks, 2018 BL 197113, Conn. App. Ct., No. AC 39680, 6/5/18).

Emotional Distress/Damages

A former employee for CDC Software in Georgia may proceed with his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress alleging that its successor and law firm acted in bad faith during his previous breach-of-contract lawsuit. CDC’s successor says that the employee failed to plead special damages, but he’s entitled to only pursue general damages, the court said (Coen v. Aptean, Inc., 2018 BL 197122, Ga. Ct. App., A18A0522., 6/4/18).

First Amendment

An employee for Lane County, Oregon may proceed with his First Amendment claim that he was fired in retaliation for reporting that the county administrator was spending money on unnecessary investigations to human resources. The county says that the employee was fired due to budget issues, but he was fired four months after making his report, and the number of employees and funds in the office grew after he left (Kardell v. Lane County, 2018 BL 196790, D. Or., 6:13-cv-736-MC, 6/4/18).

Public Employees

East Baton Rouge Parrish School Board properly demoted an assistant principal to an administrative dean position after a drop in enrollment led to budget issues. The board had good cause to demote the assistant principal, it wasn’t required to offer her a new contract, and she didn’t receive a reduction in pay (Turner v. E. Baton Rouge Par. Sch., 2018 BL 196648, La. Ct. App., 1st Cir., 2017 CA 1769, 6/4/18).

CLASS & COLLECTIVE ACTIONS

Settlement Agreements

A Kansas electrical contracting company employee can’t settle her collective action claiming that administrative staff weren’t properly paid overtime for rotated “kitchen duty,” even though the company’s agreement to pay a total of $10,000 to settle her disputed claims is fair and reasonable, because the employee didn’t explain what she did to deserve a proposed $1,000 service award (Smith v. R.F. Fisher Elec. Co., 2018 BL 196024, D. Kan., 17-2457-DDC-KGG, 6/4/18).

Class Certification

Ex-employees of a Wisconsin concrete contractor can go ahead with their state-law class action claiming that they should have been paid for travel time to jobsites and challenging the company’s overtime policies, because they say that 40 workers share the claim that an unofficial policy requires them to report to the shop each morning to receive their job assignments and the fact that they can also go ahead with their federal collective action doesn’t stop them from pursuing their state action (Laughlin v. Jim Fischer, Inc., 2018 BL 196687, E.D. Wis., 16-C-1342, 6/4/18).

Settlement Agreements

Sprint Nextel is closer to settling sales representatives’ 10-year-old Kansas wage-law class action claiming that they didn’t get the commissions they earned due to a payroll systems glitch during the Nextel acquisition, because the agreement for the telecommunications company to pay a total of $3.65 million with 23 percent of that amount for attorneys’ fees is fair to the 3,919 class members (Harlow v. Sprint Nextel Corp., 2018 BL 197179, D. Kan., 08-2222-KHV, 6/4/18).

Request Labor & Employment on Bloomberg Law