Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the Benefit Review Board's decision affirming the ALJ's award of disability benefits to an employee of a defense contractor under the Defense Base Act (DBA), which extends workers' compensation benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act to certain employees of U.S. government contractors working overseas.In this case, the employee alleged that his injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment, thereby establishing a prima facie case for benefits under the LHWCA. The court held that the record supports the Board's conclusion that petitioner failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that the named defendants were not employers. Therefore, the Board did not err when it affirmed the ALJ's finding that the employee's claims were not barred under Section 933(g) of the LHWCA. View "G4S International Employment Services (Jersey), Ltd. v. Newton-Sealey" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the Unions' request for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the implementation of three Executive Orders relating to federal labor-management relations. The Orders and Guidances issued by President Trump address collective bargaining, work time for representational activities, and discipline and discharge.After an independent review of the record and relevant case law, the court affirmed for substantially the reasons set forth by the district court in its carefully reasoned December 10, 2019 decision and order. The district court held that (1) it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Unions' substantive Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim; and (2) the Unions' procedural APA claim was unlikely to succeed on the merits because the Guidances were not subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking as the Orders were "presumptively legally binding" and the Guidances "did nothing more than summarize the legally binding . . . Orders." View "Service Employees International Union Local 200 v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The Fund brought this action to collect $1.1 million in withdrawal liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). At issue was whether arbitration was properly initiated by Neshoma in response to the suit and whether Neshoma's third-party claim against its union was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).The Second Circuit held that the parties were bound by the Fund rules, which required Neshoma to initiate arbitration with the AAA by filing a formal request before the statutory deadline, and Neshoma failed to do so. The court also held that the district court did not err in dismissing Neshoma's third-party complaint against the Union on the pleadings as preempted by the NLRA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund v. Neshoma Orchestra and Singers, Inc." on Justia Law

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After a jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff on her claim of intentional discrimination on the basis of race or national origin by her former employer, Rockefeller University, both plaintiff and the University appealed the final judgment of $250,000 in back pay and $200,000 in remitted emotional distress damages.The Second Circuit affirmed and rejected both parties' claims of error. The court held that, at bottom, any evidence in the trial record that could even arguably justify punitive damages is sparse, and the failure to instruct the jury on such damages accordingly did not cut to the core of plaintiff's case; plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the failure to instruct the jury on punitive damages constituted an error so serious and flagrant that it goes to the very integrity of the trial; the requirement of intentional discrimination was clearly expressed in the jury instructions and thus the court rejected the University's contention to the contrary; there was no prejudicial error in the formulation of the verdict form necessitating a new trial; the district court had the power to rescind its discharge order and, in the circumstances of this case, its decision to do so was a proper exercise of discretion; and the court rejected the University's challenge to the second verdict form. View "Emamian v. Rockefeller University" on Justia Law

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ABM appealed the district court's denial of its motion to confirm an arbitration award and granting in part the union's motion to vacate the award, under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). In this case, the arbitrator issued an opinion and award, concluding that two employees were not entitled to termination pay and directing them to repay certain amounts to ABM. The district court denied the motion to confirm the arbitrator's award, concluding that the award was ultra vires and unenforceable.The Second Circuit held that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority because, under both agency law principles and federal labor law, the union possessed the authority to bind the employees to the arbitration award. The court stated that the district court plainly erred by reasoning that no precedent or authority supported the proposition that a union can bind its members to make payments ordered by an arbitrator under an arbitration agreement to which they were not signatories, following a process in which they did not participate. Rather, the court held that the record is clear that the employees did participate in the arbitration proceeding and the union possessed both agency and statutory authority to appear in the arbitration on their behalf. View "ABM Industry Groups, LLC v. International Union of Operating Engineers" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting BBB's motion for summary judgment in an action brought by BBB employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiffs alleged that BBB was precluded from using the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method in calculating overtime compensation.The court held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether their wage payments were inconsistent with the FWW method. In this case, plaintiffs demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether they received fixed and guaranteed weekly wages; the FWW method does not require employees' hours to fluctuate above and below 40 hours per week; and BBB's practice of permitting employees to take days of paid time off on later dates after working on holidays or previously scheduled days off is consistent with the FWW method. View "Thomas v. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Inc." on Justia Law

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Unions representing Nassau County employees filed suit against NIFA after it instituted a year-long wage freeze for all county employees. The unions alleged that the wage freeze, because it was a legislative act that was not reasonable and necessary to achieve NIFA's purported goal of fiscal soundness, violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court held that NIFA's implementation of the wage freeze was administrative, rather than legislative, and granted summary judgment for defendants.The Second Circuit held that NIFA's wage freeze did not violate the Contracts Clause and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. The court assumed without deciding that NIFA's imposition of the wage freeze was legislative in nature, and held that the wage freeze was a reasonable and necessary means to achieve NIFA's asserted end of ensuring the continued fiscal health of the county. View "Sullivan v. Nassau County Interim Finance Authority" on Justia Law

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Vaughn sued Phoenix House, a drug treatment facility, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL), alleging that he was not paid for work he performed while a patient there. Following a remand, the complaint was dismissed for a second time. The Second Circuit affirmed. The section 1983 claim was untimely. Vaughn was not an employee of Phoenix House within the meaning of the FLSA. The court analyzed the “Glatt” factors, used for assessing unpaid internships, to apply the “primary beneficiary test.” Although Vaughn was not compensated for his work duties, Vaughn received significant benefits from staying at Phoenix House. He was permitted to receive rehabilitation treatment there in lieu of a jail sentence and was provided with food, a place to live, therapy, vocational training, and jobs that kept him busy and off drugs. View "Vaughn v. Phoenix House New York, Inc." on Justia Law

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A party who complied with directly controlling Supreme Court precedent in collecting fair-share fees cannot be held liable for monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 to obtain repayment of fair-share union fees. The court held that, because defendants collected fair share fees in reliance on directly controlling Supreme Court precedent and then-valid state statutes, their reliance was objectively reasonable, and they are entitled to a good-faith defense as a matter of law. The court reviewed plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Wholean v. CSEA SEIU Local 2001" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for overtime pay under the New York Labor Law's (NYLL) overtime-pay provision.The court held that, although the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were ineligible for overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular wage, the district court erred in holding that plaintiffs were ineligible for any overtime pay under the NYLL. The court explained that a plain reading of the NYLL's overtime-pay provision demonstrates that employees subject to certain exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Motor Carrier Exemption, must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayward v. IBI Armored Services, Inc." on Justia Law