SAN FRANCISCO - An employer that includes a disclosure required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the same document as a liability waiver willfully violates the FCRA, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 20 in a case that it noted presented a question of first impression (Sarmad Syed, et al. v. M-I, LLC, et al., No. 14-17186, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1029).
ATLANTA - All Ph.D. students at Duke University who are employed by the university to provide instructional services or research services, except for those students at Duke Kushan University and Duke-NUS Medical School, are employees within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and may vote on union representation, a National Labor Relations Board regional director ruled Jan. 18 (Duke University and Service Employees International Union CLC/CTW, No. 10-RC-187957, NLRB, Region 10).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Jan. 13 dismissed claims alleging gender identity discrimination under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) against an insurer and an employer because the plaintiff failed to cite any controlling precedent that recognizes a cause of action under Section 1557 for gender identity discrimination (Charlize Marie Baker v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-3679, N.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5665).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 17 let stand a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that reversed the grant of summary judgment to four carpenter union fringe benefit funds that alleged that a general contractor failed to pay fringe benefits for work performed by nonunion labor as required by a collective bargaining agreement in violation of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund, et al. v. Schal Bovis, Inc., No. 16-690, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 17 denied review of a ruling by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that enforced a forum-selection clause in a disability plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Lorna Clause v. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, et al., No. 16-641, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - The state of Nevada and 20 other states filed a brief on Jan. 17 asking the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a nationwide preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) wage rule that was to increase the minimum salary level for executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees who are exempt from receiving overtime pay from $23,660 per year to $47,892 per year (State of Nevada, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al., No. 16-41606, 5th Cir.).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Jan. 12 denied a plaintiff's motion to remand after determining that her state law claims arising out of the disclosure of medical records without consent are preempted by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (Jane Doe v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 16-8390, N.D. Ill.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4866).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California woman on Jan. 13 filed a class action complaint in federal court alleging that she and other women have been wrongfully denied access to and coverage for a vital women's preventive service - breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling - for which coverage is mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Rachel Condry, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., No. 4:17-cv-00183, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 agreed to hear an appeal in which it has been asked to decide whether an appeal of a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued in a "mixed" case - one involving a claim under the federal anti-discrimination laws - should be reviewed in a district court or in the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Anthony W. Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, No. 16-399, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 agreed to hear the appeal of two consolidated personal injury cases in which the employer, BNSF Railway Co., has asked the high court to decide whether a state court may decline to follow the decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman (134 S. Ct. 746 ) in a lawsuit against an American defendant under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) (BNSF Railway Company v. Kelli Tyrrell, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Brent T. Tyrrell, et al., No. 16-405, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 granted petitions for writ of certiorari filed in three cases challenging the barring of class or collection action waivers in employment agreements, consolidated the three cases and granted a total of one hour for oral arguments (Epic Systems Corp. v. Jacob Lewis, No. 16-285, Ernst & Young, et al. v. Stephen Morris, et al., No. 16-300, NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., et al., No. 16-307, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Jan. 12 denied preliminary approval of a $290,000 wage-and-hour settlement, finding that the parties failed to provide an evaluation of the range of reasonable recoveries (Sean Patterson, et al. v. Premier Construction Co. Inc., et al., No. 15-662, E.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4845).
DETROIT - Michigan's Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Blue Cross Blue Shield have settled the tribe's claims that Blue Cross breached its fiduciary duty and violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in administering the tribe's health care plan for employees, according to a dismissal order filed Jan. 11 in federal court (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 2:15-cv-13708, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - A power company's specification that contractors use asbestos and its ability to prevent the related injuries allow it to be held liable under New York Labor Law Section 200, a divided New York appellate court held Jan. 10 (Phyllis Brown, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190415/12, 206, 205, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 98).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 asked the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the government's views in a case that asks whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits a cause of action for indemnity or contribution by a person found liable for breach of fiduciary duty (David B. Fenkell v. Alliance Holdings Inc., et al., No. 16-473, U.S. Sup.).
MIAMI - A former law enforcement officer's privacy claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and related civil rights claims were properly dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that the claims accrued on the date that the purported violations occurred (Shaun Foudy, et al. v. Indian River County Sheriff's Office, et al., No. 15-14646, 15-14659 and 15-15015, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 369)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 declined to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that affirmed the dismissal of claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (BAH) based on its conclusion that BAH's Stock Rights Plan did not qualify as an ERISA plan because its primary purpose was not to provide deferred compensation or other retirement benefits (Foster Rich v. Ralph W. Shrader, et al., No. 16-415, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 let stand a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that affirmed the dismissal of claims that the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Self-Insurance Institute of America Inc. v. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 16-593, U.S. Sup.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 9, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court's dismissal of an action bought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) against an automobile dealership, holding that Congress never intended for the service advisers to be exempted from receiving overtime pay (Hector Navarro, et al. v. Encino Motorcars, LLC, No. 13-55323, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 344).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 9 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a Florida corporation asking it to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that reversed a trial court's partial summary judgment ruling for the corporation on claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Division on behalf of a class of female prison workers who allege gender discrimination and harassment, finding that the two agencies sufficiently conciliated their claims (The Geo Group, Inc. v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., No. 16-302, U.S. Sup.; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 294).
PHILADELPHIA - A trial court erred when it ruled that a disparate-impact claim is not cognizable where a subgroup comprises workers 50 years old and older, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 10 in an opinion in which it also vacated the exclusion of testimony by the plaintiffs' statistics expert and remanded for further Daubert proceedings (Rudolph A. Karlo, et al. v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, No. 15-3435, 3rd Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 406).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Not allowing non-Indians who were injured as a result of a tribal employee's negligence miles away from a reservation a remedy except what the tribe chooses to provide in tribal court "represents an extraordinary and unwarranted expansion of tribal immunity," an attorney for a couple injured by a limousine driver for a Native American casino told the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 9 (Brian Lewis and Michelle Lewis v. William Clarke, No. 15-1500, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - A disability insurer's termination of benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the evidence supported the termination and the insurer minimized any conflict of interest by employing a number of safeguards, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 6 (Donna Geiger v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 16-2790, 7th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 245).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Jan. 6 granted a request by several companies to transfer an employee's class claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and other causes of action related to alleged employment violations, finding that transfer to another federal court was appropriate because various factors, including the convenience of witnesses, weighed in favor of the transfer (Jorge Perez v. Performance Food Group Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-02390, N.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2319).
DENVER - All of the claims brought by a surgeon who was disciplined for alleged misconduct against the hospital where he was an independent contractor must be submitted to an arbitrator to determine the arbitrability of them in the first instance based on the management services agreement signed by both parties, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 5, reversing in part a trial court's decision that the arbitrability of only one claim should be decided by the arbitrator (LeGrand P. Belnap, M.D. v. Iasis Healthcare, et al., No. 15-4010, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 180).