PORTLAND, Ore. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 12 reversed the dismissal of an executive administrative assistant's age bias suit against her former employer, finding that she satisfied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2)'s pleading standard (Kathryn Sheppard v. David Evans and Assoc., and Oregon corporation, No. 11-35164, 9th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19135).
PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on Sept. 11 granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a coverage dispute, holding that the plaintiff was subject to Employee Retirement Income Security Act fiduciary standards and that its failure to properly calculate contributions necessary to fully fund employee health benefit plans was a breach of that duty; therefore, coverage was excluded under the liability policy (Enterprising Solutions Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company, No. 10-1430, D. Ariz.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128921).
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A post office worker was not promoted because he was not the most qualified applicant, not because he is black, so the U.S. Postal Service is entitled to summary judgment on the worker's racial discrimination claim, an Alabama federal judge held Sept. 11 (Molton Mayberry v. Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General, No. 2:10-cv-479, M.D. Ala.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128727).
NEW ORLEANS - The State of Texas is not immune from a lawsuit filed by the federal government on behalf of private individuals seeking unpaid wages, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 12 (Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor v. State of Texas, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services Division, No. 12-50049, 5th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19138).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 11 affirmed the dismissal of a second race bias class suit brought against Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. and Bank of America Corp. by essentially the same group of brokers that currently is pursuing another racial discrimination suit against Merrill Lynch in federal court (George McReynolds, et al. v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., et al., No. 11-1957, 7th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19033).
DENVER - A lawsuit filed by a union representing non-management employees of a business communications company that is seeking to represent a new class of employees working as backbone engineers should have been dismissed rather than referred to arbitration, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 11, reversing a trial court ruling (Communications Workers of America v. Avaya, Inc., No. 11-1470, 10th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19088).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Sept. 7 denied certification to a class of truck drivers who allege that they were misclassified as independent contractors, finding that individual questions predominate the proposed classes (Mohit Narayan, et al. v. EGL, Inc., et al., No. 05-04181, N.D. Calif.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128621).
NEW YORK - A school district's typist was speaking as an employee when she reported financial malfeasance to the school district's superintendent and board of education, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 10, reversing a trial court's finding that the employee's speech was protected (Risa A. Ross v. Peter F. Breslin, et al., No. 10-5275, 2nd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18983).
DETROIT - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan engaged in self-dealing in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., by charging self-insured welfare plans and their sponsors an administrative fee and unilaterally determining the amount of the fee, a federal judge in Michigan ruled Sept. 7 in granting summary judgment against Blue Cross on prohibited transaction claims (Borroughs Corporation, et al, v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Nos. 11-12565, 11-12557, E.D. Mich.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127587).
NEW ORLEANS - A former university employee failed to show that she was the victim of disability discrimination when she was terminated after her doctor determined that she could not work the number of hours her job required, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 7, also dismissing a request to review a trial court's imposition of sanctions to reimburse the university for $1,000 of costs and attorney fees (Sabrina Kay Taylor v. University of Phoenix/Apollo Group, No. 11-20681, 5th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18865).
ST. LOUIS - A welfare benefit plan may not enforce its subrogation provision as an implied contract or in equity under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., against a law firm that acknowledged the validity of the provision during its representation of a plan beneficiary in a civil lawsuit but that did not agree to be bound by the provision, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Sept. 7 (Treasurer, Trustees of Drury Industries, Inc. Health Care Plan and Trust v. Sean Goding, et al.,, No. 11-2885, 8th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18815).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Court of Federal Claims lacks jurisdiction to review a complaint by a former federal probation officer who claims that he was wrongfully terminated, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 7 ((Alfredo Semper v. United States, No. 2012-5003, Fed. Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18880).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Allowing an employee to work from home for up to four days a week due to irritable bowel syndrome is not a reasonable accommodation because the essential functions of her job could not be done from home, a Michigan federal judge held Sept. 10 in granting the employer summary judgment on claims by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ford Motor Company, No. 11-13742, E.D. Mich.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128200).
CINCINNATI - Fifth Third Bancorp breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., by continuing to offer company stock as a retirement plan investment option at a time when the bank was engaged in subprime lending and by providing false and misleading information about the company stock to plan participants through intentionally incorporating the bank's filings with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission into the plan's summary plan description (SPD), the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 5, reversing a district court ruling granting the fiduciaries' motion to dismiss (John Dudenhoefer, et al. v. Fifth Third Bancorp, et al., No. 11-3012, 6th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18622).
DENVER - A 401(k) plan administrator was not liable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., to reimburse a plan participant for benefits that the participant's ex-wife fraudulently withdrew from his account, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Sept. 5 (William Foster v. PPG Industries, Inc., et al., No. 10-5123, 10th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18678).
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 7 vacated a $59,787.50 award of attorney fees against unsuccessful plaintiffs in a political discrimination suit (Myrta Torres-Santiago, et al. v. Municipality of Adjuntas, et al., No. 10-2248, 1st Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18915).
NEW ORLEANS - A Rite Aid manager failed to show that his termination was the result of his subordinates' alleged refusal to work under a black manager, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 5 (Malcolm Armstrong v. K & B Louisiana Corporation, et al., No. 11-30744, 5th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18640).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The daily tasks of a former drug store co-manager show that she was properly classified as an executive and therefore was not eligible for overtime pay, a New York federal judge held Sept. 6 in granting the drug store summary judgment on the worker's wage and hour claims (Dilara Yesmin v. Rite Aid of New York, Inc. and Genovese Drug Stores, Inc., No. 10-4157, E.D. N.Y.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127655).
NEW YORK - A security guard who allegedly was threatened with a gun by his former boss when he asked to be paid for several months of work is entitled to more than $30,000 for unpaid wages and liquidated damages, a New York federal magistrate judge held Sept. 7 (Darnell Greathouse v. JHS Security, Inc. and Melvin Wilcox, No. 11-7845, S.D. N.Y.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127312).
INDIANAPOLIS - The anti-retaliation provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act protects an employee who made unsolicited and informal complaints to his employer and the U.S. Department of Labor about his employer's failure to deposit amounts into his ERISA plan accounts, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 4 (Victor George v. Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, Inc. No. 11-3291, 7th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18571).
NEW YORK - Employee privacy concerns outweigh public interest when it comes to not only the names of federal employees but also their duty station information, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 5, reversing a trial court's ruling in part (Susan B. Long, et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, Nos. 10-1600 and 10-1618, 2nd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18664).
DENVER - A steel company will pay more than $800,000 to settle individual and collective action claims of 570 current and former employees that the company failed to fully compensate them for donning and doffing their uniforms and protective equipment and for time spent walking to and from their time clocks after donning and doffing, according to a settlement agreement approved Sept. 5 by a Colorado federal judge (Ralph Abeyta, et al., v. CF&I Steel, L.P., d/b/a Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel, No. 1:11-cv-00663, D. Col.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126166).
NEW YORK - Drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) and its retirement plans' fiduciaries did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., by permitting participants to continue to invest in company stock when GSK was allegedly engaged in four illegal schemes that would predictably lead to the loss of the value of the company stock, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Sept. 4 in an unpublished order (In re GlaxoSmithKline ERISA Litigation [Charles J. Gum, et al. v. GlaxoSmithKline Retirement Savings Plan Committee, et al., No. 11-2289-cv, 2nd Cir.]; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18552).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A U.S. Department of State information technology manager and her husband tricked an Ethiopian woman into accompanying them as their domestic servant to Japan, where they held her virtually as a prisoner in their home and forced her to work for them for less than $1 per hour and where the husband repeatedly raped the woman with his wife's consent, a Virginia federal judge found Sept. 4 in awarding the woman $3.3 million in damages on a default judgment against the couple (Jane Doe v. Linda Howard and Russell Howard, No. 1:11-cv-1105, E.D. Va.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125414).
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DETROIT - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 1001 et seq., does not preempt the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act, which imposes an assessment of 1 percent on the value of all claims paid by every carrier or third-party administrator for medical services that are rendered in Michigan to a resident of the state, including ERISA plans, a federal judge in Michigan ruled Aug. 31 (Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc. v. Rick Snyder et al., No. 11-15602, E.D. Mich.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124405).