6th Circuit Reinstates Employee's Harassment, Retaliation Suit

    CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 17 reinstated a harassment and retaliation suit filed by a former employer of an equipment manufacturer, finding that disputed issues of material fact bar the summary judgment ruling for the employer (Eric K. Paasewe v. Action Group, Inc., No. 12-3701, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14668).

    Blue Cross Violates Fiduciary Duty By Setting, Imposing Fee, 6th Circuit Rules

    CINCINNATI - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) violated its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by discretionarily setting and billing a self-funded benefits fund for a cost-transfer subsidy fee to satisfy its obligation to the State of Michigan, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 18 in affirming summary judgment to the fund (Pipefitters Local 636 Insurance Fund, et al. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 12-2265, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14517).

    Federal Circuit Denies Navy Reserve Officer's Request For Back Pay

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Navy reserve officer failed to prove he was entitled to back pay under the Military Pay Act as a result of being assigned only to unpaid units, a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 18 (James Antonellis v. United States, No. 2012-5140, Fed. Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14501).

    Court Affirms Denial Of Certification Of Nurses' Competition Law Class Claims

    SAN DIEGO - A trial court judge provided an appellate opinion as an alternative explanation for his ruling denying class certification of a California unfair competition law (UCL) claim but did not fail to address the claim, a state appeals court held July 17 (Juan Marcos Almaraz, et al. v. Sharp Healthcare, et al., No. D059648, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1).

    1st Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Suit Over Unemployment Benefits

    BOSTON - A trial court ruled correctly when it dismissed a telecommunications company's suit against the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) and union workers who collected unemployment benefits after a large-scale work stoppage; however, the dismissal was only warranted under the Younger v. Harris (401 U.S. 37 $(1971$)) abstention doctrine, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 (Verizon New England, Inc. v. Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, et al., No. 12-2398, 1st Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14468).

    4th Circuit: 3 Labor Board Appointments Were Constitutionally Invalid

    RICHMOND, Va. - A split Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 17 ruled in two consolidated cases that three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2012, were invalid under the recess appointments clause of U.S. Constitution (National Labor Relations Board v. Enterprise Leasing Company Southeast, LLC, No. 12-1514, Huntington Ingalls Incorporated v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 12-2000, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14444).

    Texas Court Finds Teacher Failed To Show She Was Fired For Mold Complaints

    HOUSTON - A Texas appeals court on July 16 affirmed a trial court's decision in favor of a school district in a suit filed by a former teacher who alleged that her job was terminated after she complained about mold, finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to submit certain questions and charges to the jury (Dorthea Walker v. Hitchcock Independent School District, 01-11-00797, Texas App.; 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 8746).

    Beauty School Admissions Reps Granted Conditional Certification In Overtime Suit

    MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota federal judge on July 15 conditionally certified a class of beauty school admissions representatives seeking overtime compensation after first dismissing the reps' record-keeping claims (Michelle Le, et al. v. Regency Corporation d/b/a Regency Beauty Institute, et al., No. 13-391, D. Minn.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98276).

    Wisconsin Federal Judge Denies Class Certification In Workers' Overtime Suit

    MADISON, Wis. - Two meat-packing plant workers have failed to show that all workers in their proposed class were denied overtime in a manner similar enough for certification to be appropriate, a Wisconsin federal judge ruled July 15, denying a motion to certify their state claims and granting a motion by the defendants to decertify federal law claims that were previously granted conditional certification (Gustavo Utrera Viveros, et al. v. VPP Group, LLC, et al., No. 12-129, W.D. Wis.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97997).

    Magistrate Judge Denies Sanctions For City's Deletion Of Email

    LAS VEGAS - A federal magistrate judge in Nevada on July 11 refused to impose sanctions against the City of Las Vegas in a hostile work environment lawsuit after finding that its deletion of a response to an email in April 2010 occurred as part of its existing practice of purging emails after 45 days and before it was on notice of litigation from a former employee (Jennifer Hixson v. City of Las Vegas, No. 12-cv-00871-RCJ-PAL, D. Nev.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96952).

    Magistrate Judge Grants Majority Of Plaintiff's Motion To Compel

    WICHITA, Kan. - A federal magistrate judge in Kansas overseeing discovery in a gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit against Kohl's Department Stores Inc. on July 12 granted a majority of the plaintiff's motion to compel records and set parameters for the time frame and geography of relevant documents (Tiffany Kear v. Kohl's Department Stores Inc., No. 12-cv-1235-JAR-KGG, D. Kan.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97418).

    1st Circuit Affirms Denial Of Signal Inspector's Race Bias, Retaliation Claims

    BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 15 upheld the rejection of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) employee's claims that he was subjected to racial bias and retaliation on the job (Keith Pearson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, No. 12-1956, 1st Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14254).

    8th Circuit: Antenuptial Agreement Did Not Waive Surviving Spouse's Rights

    ST. LOUIS - An antenuptial agreement did not waive a spouse's right to survivor benefits under a retirement plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the antenuptial agreement lacked an acknowledgment, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 12 in ruling that the surviving spouse and not the named beneficiaries were entitled to the plan's funds (MidAmerican Pension and Employee Benefits Plans Administrative Committee v. Michael G. Cox, et al., No. 12-3563, 8th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14104).

    2nd Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Lehman Stock-Drop Case

    NEW YORK - Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.'s former directors and benefit committee members did not breach fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by continuing to offer company stock as an investment option for Lehman's employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) before the company's declaring bankruptcy, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 15 (In re Lehman Bros. ERISA Litig. $(Alex E. Rinehart, et al. v. John F. Akers, et al.$), No. 11-4233-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14194).

    Employees Reach Settlement With 2 High-Tech Employers On Conspiracy Claims

    SAN JOSE, Calif. - Employees who allege that seven high-tech companies conspired to restrict the mobility of technical employees by entering into agreements not to compete for each other's employees told a federal judge in California on July 12 that they have reached an agreement with defendants Pixar and Lucasfilm Ltd. (In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-CV-02509, N.D. Calif.).

    11th Circuit Affirms Order Compelling Arbitration Of Claims Against Cruise Line

    ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 12 affirmed a decision to compel arbitration of a cruise line worker's clams against Carnival Corp., finding that an arbitration agreement in his contract applied and that the dispute was governed by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Jose Alvaro Dolmo Montero v. Carnival Corp., No. 12-15525, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 14141).

    Executor Is Not Entitled To Equitable Relief Under ERISA, Federal Judge Rules

    LYNCHBURG, Va. - An executor of a decedent's estate is not permitted leave to amend her complaint because the equitable remedies of reformation and surcharge are not available against the defendants, who were not fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal judge in Virginia ruled July 9 on remand (Judy L. Moon, et al. v. BWX Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 6:09-cv-00064, W.D. Va.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95626).

    1st Circuit Upholds Ruling That Skycaps' Claims Over Baggage Fees Are Preempted

    BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 9 upheld the dismissal of two class suits filed by airline skycaps claiming that their employer improperly retained baggage-handling fees for curbside service, finding that the complaints "intrude into a no-fly zone demarcated by the preemption provision of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA)" (Joseph Brown, et al. v. United Airlines, Inc., No. 12-1543, Ben Mitchell, et al. v. US Airways, Inc., No. 12-2056, 1st Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13804).

    2nd Circuit: Undocumented Aliens Barred From Collecting Back Pay

    NEW YORK - The decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB (535 U.S. 137 $(2002$)) prohibits undocumented aliens from recovering back pay even when those employees did not violate the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 10 (Christian Palma, et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 12-1199, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13911).

    5th Circuit: Presumption Of Prudence Applies To Motion To Dismiss In ESOP Case

    NEW ORLEANS - Participants in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) who alleged that the plan's fiduciaries breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by continuing to offer and hold company stock as an investment option failed to overcome the presumption of prudence, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 9 in granting the fiduciaries' motion to dismiss (Randy Kopp v. Scott W. Klein, et al., No. 12-10416, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS).

    11th Circuit: RV Park Does Not Fall Under Recreational Establishment Exemption

    ATLANTA - A recreational vehicle park does not qualify as a recreational establishment that is exempt from providing employees overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 9, upholding a trial court's award of wages to a former groundskeeper (John Mann, et al. v. Michael Falk, et al., No. 12-16434, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13834).

    8th Circuit: Arbitrator Properly Awarded Reinstatement, Pay Beyond Decertification

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 2 rejected a Missouri hospital's claims that an arbitrator exceeded his authority by ordering reinstatement and back pay beyond a union's decertification (Midwest Division - LSH, LLC, doing business as Lee's Summit Medical Center v. Nurses United for Improved Patient Care, CAN/NNOC, No. 12-2229, 8th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13482).

    Excessive Fees Settlement Between 401(k) Participants, CIGNA, PRIAC Is Approved

    URBANA, Ill. - A federal judge in Illinois on July 3 granted preliminary approval of a $35 million settlement between participants in Cigna Corp.'s 401(k) plan, Cigna and Prudential Retirement Insurance and Annuity Co. (PRIAC) on the participants' claims that the defendants violated their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by profiting from the investment options and service providers selected for the plan and by offering imprudent funds as investment options (Kim Nolte, et al. v. Cigna Corp., et al., No. 07-2046, C.D. Ill.).

    9th Circuit Affirms Award For Victim Of Picketing, But Not For Third Parties

    SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 5 affirmed a damages award to be paid by a union to the company running the site where the union was improperly picketing but vacated the award of compensatory damages to several third parties, finding that the award was not necessary to enforce the injunction (Richard L. Ahearn, Regional Director of the Nineteenth Region of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board v. International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Locals 21 and 4, No. 11-35848, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13652).

    U.S., Other Amici File Briefs On Limitations Period In ERISA Benefits Denial Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A beneficiary's claim for wrongful denial of disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not accrue for limitations purposes until the plan's internal benefits resolution process has been exhausted, notwithstanding a plan provision providing that the limitations period commences before the plan has resolved the claim for benefits, the United States told the U.S. Supreme Court in a July 2 amicus brief (Julie Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., et al., No. 12-729, U.S. Sup.).