Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Donohue v. Cuomo
In a challenge to the State of New York's 2011 reduction, through the amendment of a state statute and regulation, of its contribution rates to retired former state employees' health insurance premiums, the Second Circuit certified the following questions to the New York Court of Appeals: (1) Under New York state law, and in light of Kolbe v. Tibbetts, 22 N.Y.3d 344 (2013), M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 574 U.S. 427 (2015), and CNH Indus. 5 N.V. v. Reese, 138 S. Ct. 761 (2018), do 9.13 (setting forth contribution rates of 90% and 75%), 9.23(a) (concerning contribution rates for surviving dependents of deceased retirees), 9.24(a) (specifying that retirees may retain NYSHIP coverage in retirement), 9.24(b) (permitting retirees to use sick-leave credit to defray premium costs), and 9.25 (allowing for the indefinite delay or suspension of coverage or sick-leave credits) of the 2007-2011 collective bargaining agreement between the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. and the Executive Branch of the State of New York ("the CBA"), singly or in combination, (1) create a vested right in retired employees to have the State's rates of contribution to health-insurance premiums remain unchanged during their lifetimes, notwithstanding the duration of the CBA, or (2) if they do not, create sufficient ambiguity on that issue to permit the consideration of extrinsic evidence as to whether they create such a vested right? (2) If the CBA, on its face, or as interpreted at trial upon consideration of extrinsic evidence, creates a vested right in retired employees to have the State's rates of contribution to health-insurance premiums remain unchanged during their lives, notwithstanding the duration of the CBA, does New York's statutory and regulatory reduction of its contribution rates for retirees' premiums negate such a vested right so as to preclude a remedy under state law for breach of contract? View "Donohue v. Cuomo" on Justia Law
Posted in: Labor & Employment Law
Legg v. Ulster County
Four female employees, including plaintiff, filed suit alleging hostile work environment claims. The jury awarded plaintiff a total of $400,000 on her claims against defendants under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The County then filed motions for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) and 59(b). The district court then sua sponte denied the motions based on the restrictions established by Rule 6(b)(2) on extending time for filing such motions. The Second Circuit vacated the denial order and remanded. On remand, the district court found that plaintiff "constructively waived" her objection to the timeliness of the County's motions and entered orders reducing plaintiff's Title VII award to $75,000 and overturning the jury verdict in her favor on her section 1983 claim for want of evidence of an unlawful municipal custom or practice under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Both plaintiff and the County appealed.The Second Circuit held that plaintiff forfeited her right to object to the untimeliness of the County's post-trial motions by failing to raise the issue contemporaneously with the district court's grant of the extension. The court further rejected the County's position that plaintiff's acceptance of remittitur on her Title VII claims forecloses her appeal of the judgment insofar as it relates to her section 1983 claim. On the merits, the court affirmed the judgment in plaintiff's favor on her Title VII claim and rejected the County's cross-appeal seeking judgment in its favor on that claim as a matter of law. In regard to the section 1983 claim, the court concluded that the district court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for the County, because the jury had a reasonable basis for its finding of sufficient municipal involvement to support its award to plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Legg v. Ulster County" on Justia Law
Aleutian Capital Partners v. Pizzella
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming the Board's conclusion that Aleutian violated certain statutory and regulatory requirements governing the H-1B temporary foreign worker program, and order requiring Aleutian to pay back wages to two Program workers.The court held that agency regulations duly promulgated under the statute unambiguously require H-1B employers to make wage payments in "prorated installments," "no less often than monthly." Therefore, the court concluded that an employer's failure to satisfy this requirement constitutes a failure to comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act's overall "required wage obligation"—a conclusion that supports DOL's award of back wages to Employee Gangjee.The court declined to adopt the proposed limitations on DOL's investigatory authority by holding that DOL's investigation into an H-1B Program complaint may not exceed the specific allegations of misconduct made in that complaint. Rather, the court affirmed DOL's authority to investigate Aleutian's compliance with the H-1B Program's wage requirement as to Employee Horn, as well as to Gangjee. The court stated that such an inquiry was reasonably within the scope of DOL's investigative authority into the allegations made in Gangjee's complaint and is lawfully contemplated by Program regulations. View "Aleutian Capital Partners v. Pizzella" on Justia Law
Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc.
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Title VII disparate impact class action against their would-be employer. Plaintiffs, African-American men who were hired at a technology services provider before their offers of employment were revoked because of past criminal convictions, cited national statistics showing that African Americans are arrested and incarcerated at higher rates than whites relative to their share of the national population.The court held that plaintiffs have set forth no allegations plausibly suggesting that the company's hiring policy has a disparate impact on African Americans within the relevant hiring pool. The court stated that, while national statistics may be used to advance a disparate impact claim if there is reason to believe that the general population is representative of the qualified applicant pool subject to the challenged policy, plaintiffs' complaint suggests that the jobs they applied for required substantial educational and technical credentials, and plaintiffs have provided no basis on which to presume that their proffered statistics are representative of the applicant pool in question. View "Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc." on Justia Law
G4S International Employment Services (Jersey), Ltd. v. Newton-Sealey
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
Service Employees International Union Local 200 v. Trump
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
American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund v. Neshoma Orchestra and Singers, Inc.
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
Emamian v. Rockefeller University
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
ABM Industry Groups, LLC v. International Union of Operating Engineers
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
Thomas v. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Inc.
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
Posted in: Labor & Employment Law