Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The duty of fair representation under the National Labor Relations Act does not necessarily preempt the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) for claims of discrimination filed by a union member against a labor organization when the labor organization is acting in its capacity as a collective bargaining representative (as distinguished from when it is acting in its capacity as an employer). The Second Circuit held that the Act's duty of representation does not preempt the NYSHRL either on the basis of field preemption or as a general matter on the basis of conflict preemption. Accordingly, the court reversed the declaratory judgment of the district court and denied Local's cross-appeal for injunctive relief. View "Figueroa v. Foster" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's determination that plaintiff asserted claims only under federal law, its dismissal of claims against the individual defendants, and its dismissal of plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. At issue in this appeal was whether a pro se litigant forfeits her claims under New York state and local discrimination law where she has alleged facts supporting such claims, but fails to check a blank on a form complaint indicating that she wishes to bring them. The court held that such a bright-line rule runs counter to the court's policy of liberally construing pro se submissions, and that plaintiff's complaint in this case should have been read by the district court to assert claims under New York state and local discrimination law as well as under federal law. The court addressed the balance of plaintiff's claims on appeal in a summary order issued simultaneously with this opinion, and remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. The Jewish Guild for the Blind" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendants, agreeing with plaintiff that the district court wrongly instructed the jury that "but for" causation applied to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. The court held that FMLA retaliation claims of the sort plaintiff brought here were grounded in 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(1) and a "motivating factor" causation standard applied to those claims. The court also held that the district court exceeded the bounds of its discretion in admitting and permitting the adverse inferences to be drawn in this case. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Woods v. START Treatment & Recovery Centers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former principal of a Roman Catholic school, filed suit alleging that she was terminated on the basis of unlawful gender discrimination and retaliation. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the ministerial exception barred plaintiffʹs employment‐discrimination claims because in her role as principal she was a minister within the meaning of the exception. The court explained that, although her formal title was not inherently religious, the record clearly established that she held herself out as a spiritual leader of the school, and that she performed many significant religious functions to advance its religious mission. View "Fratello v. Archdiocese of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, retired officers of Booz Allen, filed suit alleging that they were improperly denied compensation when, after their retirement, Booz Allen sold one of its divisions in the Carlyle Transaction. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., claims on the ground that Booz Allen's stock-distribution program was not a pension plan within the meaning of ERISA, and denial as futile leave to amend to "augment" the ERISA claims with new allegations; affirmed the dismissal of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., claims on the ground that they were barred by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c); but vacated the district court's judgment to the extent it denied Plaintiff Kocourek leave to amend to add securities-fraud causes of action. The court remanded for the district court to consider his claims. View "Pasternack v. Shrader" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Hospital under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., alleging that the Hospital terminated her illegally for taking medical leave to which she was entitled under the terms of the Act. The DC Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the hospital, holding that the district court erred in determining that plaintiff cannot, as a matter of law, establish a "serious health condition" under 14 C.F.R. 825.115(e)(2), but correctly concluded that the Hospital was not estopped from challenging whether plaintiff established the elements of her FMLA interference claim. Because the Hospital failed to show entitlement to summary judgment on plaintiff's right to leave under section 825.115(e)(2), the Hospital's entitlement to summary judgment turns on the adequacy of plaintiff's notice. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to make this determination. View "Pollard v. The New York Methodist Hospital" on Justia Law

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Former employees of World Airways challenged the dismissal of their complaint seeking damages for fraud, breach of contract and violation of an employee benefit plan. The Second Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiffs' state law claims arose under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq., and were thus preempted. Because those claims bear a close resemblance to claims brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., the court found it appropriate to borrow and apply the three‐year statute of limitations set forth in Section 1113 of ERISA rather than the six‐month limitations period the district court borrowed from Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C.160(b). Accordingly, the court vacated the dismissal of the RLA claims and remanded for further consideration. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Pruter v. Local 210’s Pension Trust Fund" on Justia Law

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The New York Court of Appeals answered a certified question from the Second Circuit, holding that liability under Section 296(15) the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) is limited to an aggrieved party's employer. The New York Court of Appeals answered a second certified question by identifying four factors to use in determining whether an entity is an aggrieved party's employer: the selection and engagement of the servant; the payment of salary or wages; the power of dismissal; and the power of control of the servant's conduct. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Sirva, Inc., as Allied's parent, can be held liable under the NYSHRL for employment discrimination on the basis of plaintiff's criminal convictions. Based on the answers to the certified questions, the Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Griffin v. Sirva Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, employed as English teachers by defendants, filed suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging that defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and New York Labor Law. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to pay them both the statutory minimum wage for hours worked out of the classroom and statutory overtime when plaintiffs' classroom and out‐of‐classroom work exceeded 40 hours per week. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FLSA claims, holding that defendants were exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements applicable to teachers working as bona fide professions because defendants were "educational establishments" under 29 C.F.R. 541.204(b). View "Fernandez v. Zoni Language Centers" on Justia Law

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Pier Sixty challenged the determination that it violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1) and (3), by discharging an employee in retaliation for protected activity. The court held that Pier Sixty has not shown the existence of an "extraordinary circumstance" that requires the court to waive the ordinary rule against considering arguments not presented to the Board as required by 29 U.S.C. 160(e). Therefore, the court did not reach the merits of the challenge to Acting General Counsel Solomon's appointment. The court also affirmed the Board's determination that Pier Sixty violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) by discharging Hernan Perez since Perez's conduct was not so "opprobrious" as to lose the protection of the NLRA. The court's decision rests heavily on the deference afforded to the Boards factual findings, made following a six‐day bench trial informed by the specific social and cultural context in this case. However, the court noted that Perez's conduct sits at the outer‐bounds of protected, union‐related comments. Accordingly, the court granted the Board's application for enforcement and denied Pier Sixty's cross-petition for review. View "NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC" on Justia Law