Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Plaintiffs, former employees of a Manhattan restaurant, filed suit against BLCH, the restaurant owner and operator, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL). Although the district court found in favor of plaintiffs, the court held that they were not entitled to a double recovery of liquidated damages and that a shareholder of the employer was not personally liable. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly declined to award cumulative liquidated damages. In this case, plaintiff's argument for double recovery was foreclosed by the court's recent decision in Rana v. Islam, 887 F.3d 118, 123 (2d Cir. 2018), which vacated a judgment under the FLSA in favor of a larger judgment under the NYLL on the ground that the FLSA did not allow duplicative liquidated damages. The court applied the Carter factors and held that the shareholder was not personally liable where only the fourth Carter factor -- maintaining of employment records -- was partially satisfied. View "Tapia v. Blch 3rd Ave LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Just Energy on plaintiffs' minimum wage and overtime claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law. The Second Circuit held that there was no genuine issue of fact to dispute that plaintiffs were outside salesmen—that is, to dispute that they were regularly employed away from Just Energy's office and that their primary duty was to make sales as well as to obtain orders or contracts for services. The court rejected plaintiffs' argument that the outside salesman exemption may not be applied because of the fact that Just Energy retained discretion to reject commitment contracts that plaintiffs secured from their door‐to‐door customers, and that the outside salesman exemption may not be applied because of the overall degree of supervision that Just Energy exercised over plaintiffs' activities. The court also held that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion when it declined to find that Just Energy should be collaterally estopped from invoking the outside salesman exemption in this case. View "Flood v. Just Energy Marketing Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to DLC in an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seeking overtime compensation for former DLC drivers. The court held that the FLSA's overtime requirement did not apply to DLC's drivers because DLC was engaged in the business of operating taxicabs. The court reasoned that a taxicab was (1) a chauffeured passenger vehicle; (2) available for hire by individual members of the general public; (3) that has no fixed schedule, fixed route, or fixed termini. In this case, there was no genuine dispute that DLC's vehicles met this description and thus DLC's drivers were employed by an employer engaged in the business of operating taxicabs. View "Munoz-Gonzalez v. D.L.C. Limousine Services" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the Board's finding that HealthBridge engaged in a number of unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The court held that sound legal reasoning and substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that HealthBridge violated the Act by temporarily requiring housekeeping workers to work under a subcontractor only to rehire them as new employees following their termination by the subcontractor--thereby divesting them of seniority and related benefits accrued under the CBAs. In this case, the obligations that HealthBridge attempted to shed remained binding, and no reasonable reading of those obligations permitted HealthBridge to eliminate the seniority-based entitlements of its housekeeping workers as it did. Furthermore, the Board was correct in finding that HealthBridge committed two additional NLRA violations for failing to rehire two employees when every other housekeeping worker who sought continued employment with the company was returned to its payroll, and for threatening to call the police on workers who would not either immediately vacate the premises or accede to the unlawful elimination of their bargained-for seniority. The court also affirmed the Board's finding that HealthBridge violated the Act when it discontinued two of its policies without attempting to bargain. View "HealthBridge Management, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that defendants took adverse employment action against plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment in retaliation for her giving advice to a co-worker who was being arrested by campus police. The court declined to apply the law of the case doctrine where the district court initially entered an order denying defendants' motion for summary judgment before changing its mind, because plaintiff did not point to any prejudice she suffered by reason of the change of ruling and the court saw no impropriety in the district court's exercise of its discretion to revisit its earlier denial of summary judgment. On the merits, the court held that defendants were protected from both liability and the obligation to defend the case because of qualified immunity. In this case, there was no clearly established law to the effect that plaintiff's speech was on a matter of public concern. View "Colvin v. Keen" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in refusing to exercise supplemental jurisdiction in an action brought by laundromat workers against their employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The day before the final pretrial conference and one week prior to the first day of trial, the district court sua sponte, and without notice to the parties or any opportunity to be heard, issued an order revoking its exercise of supplemental jurisdiction, vacating the trial, and dismissing the case. The court held that the district court committed three errors where it acted sua sponte without affording the parties notice and an opportunity; it impugned, on the record, plaintiffs' counsel's motives without affording any notice about this assessment of counsel's conduct or any opportunity to explain himself; and its analysis of the factors considered under 28 U.S.C. 1367(c) for determining whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction was inadequate. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lopez Catzin v. Thank You & Good Luck Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiffs. The court certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals and received two answers to those questions. The state court answered that no particularized inquiry was necessary to determine whether public benefit corporations should be treated like the State for purposes of capacity. The state court also held that a claim-revival statute will satisfy the Due Process Clause of the State Constitution if it was enacted as a reasonable response in order to remedy an injustice. Therefore, the court held that the BPCA, like any other state entity, may challenge the constitutionality of Jimmy Nolan’s Law only if it qualifies for one of the "narrow" exceptions to the capacity-to-sue rule. In this case, no such exception applied. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "In re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a police officer and former police union official, filed suit alleging that defendants violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech by retaliating against him for criticizing management decisions by police officials. The district court ruled in favor of defendants. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff's union remarks were not made under his official duties as a police officer and thus he spoke as a private citizen for purposes of the First Amendment. However, Defendants Moran and Mueller were entitled to qualified immunity, and plaintiff failed to allege a plausible claim for municipal liability against the city. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Montero v. City of Yonkers" on Justia Law

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Because New York Labor Law does not call for awards of New York Labor Law (NYLL) liquidated damages on top of liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), district courts may not award cumulative liquidated damages for the same course of conduct under both statutes. Defendant Islam appealed the district court's damages orders after a default judgment was entered against defendants in an action filed by plaintiff, alleging violations of various state and federal labor and human trafficking laws. The Second Circuit vacated the damages award in this case under the FLSA in favor of the NYLL award. View "Rana v. Islam" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the ARB's final order affirming the ALJ's decision that Intervenor Anthony Santiago was entitled to relief under section 20109(c)(1) of the Federal Railroad Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 20101 et seq. The court held that the ALJ's determination that Metro‐North had denied, delayed, or interfered with intervenor's medical treatment for a back injury he suffered during the course of his employment was not supported by substantial evidence. In this case, the record considered as a whole was inadequate to support the finding that Metro-North exerted so much influence over OHS that the OHS determination was not truly independent, such that Metro-North could be blamed for the delay in intervenor's medical treatment. Therefore, the court vacated the ARB's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Metro-North Commuter Railroad Co. v. U.S. Department of Labor" on Justia Law