NEW ORLEANS - The fire chief of a Louisiana volunteer department may proceed with his procedural due process claim over his firing, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 5, finding that a trial court erred when it ruled at the summary judgment stage that an unexecuted contract was inadmissible (David S. Mauer v. Nicholas J. Muscarello, Sr., et al., No. 16-30673, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17142).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 5 affirmed a lower federal court's dismissal of a former pension plan administrator's claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because he is suing as a private individual and not a fiduciary, but vacated the dismissal of his state law claim against the chairman of the pension plan's administration committee, finding that the lower court erred in declining to exercise jurisdiction over the tort claim (Roberto Trujillo v. American Bar Association, et al., No. 16-3612, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17116).
CHICAGO - A human resources manager who hid and then lied about her intimate relationship with an employee whom she helped hire and then supervise failed to show that gender discrimination and retaliation caused her firing rather than her false statements and other performance issues, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 31 (Jamie Owens v. Old Wisconsin Sausage Company, Incorporated, No. 16-3875, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16797).
CHICAGO - A trial court that certified a class of participants who filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against a mutual insurance company for allegedly using premiums it obtained through payments made by them for health care coverage to enrich itself failed to address glaring issues, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 31, vacating the order granting class certification and remanding for further proceedings (Susan Priddy, et al. v. Health Care Service Corporation, No. 16-4127, 7th Cir., 2017 US. App. LEXIS 16784).
NEW YORK - An employer violates Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it terminates an employee for refusing to agree to an unlawful confidentiality agreement, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 31 (National Labor Relations Board v. Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc., Nos. 16-2325 and 16-2782, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16745).
CINCINNATI - Termination of grievance proceedings has already been characterized, in EEOC v. SunDance Rehabilitation Corp., 466 F.3d 490, 498 (6th Cir. 2006), as an adverse employment action and because holding proceedings in abeyance is not materially different, a trial court erred in ruling for an employer in a case where an employee alleges that her grievance proceedings were improperly held in abeyance after she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 1 (Joyce Watford v. Jefferson County Public Schools, No. 16-6183, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16876).
DENVER - An unlawful interference claim against an employer that was determined to be moot by a trial court may be revived when an employer asserts a new theory against the former employee that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regards as a continuation of the unlawful interference, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 5 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CollegeAmerica Denver, Inc., No. 16-1340, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17094).
PHILADELPHIA - A former employee of The Coca-Cola Co. (Coke), who says his personally identifiable information (PII) was exposed when company laptops were stolen, failed to establish any errors that would justify reconsidering summary judgment for Coke on contractual claims related to the incident, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Aug. 30, allowing a March ruling to stand (Shane K. Enslin v. The Coca-Cola Co., et al., No. 2:14-cv-06476, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139525).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 31 reversed and remanded a district's court ruling after determining that a disability insurer's denial of benefits based on the plan's pre-existing condition provision was not reasonable because there is no evidence that the claimant's healthy pregnancy caused or contributed to a stroke suffered by the claimant six months after her child was born (Julissa Bradshaw v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 16-11125, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16779).
CHICAGO - A transit worker failed to include any specific medical conditions in his amended complaint alleging disability discrimination, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 1, upholding dismissal of his claims and adding that even if he had included those conditions, he failed to allege that they substantially limited any major life activities (Gregory Lee v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 16-4116, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16836).
ST. LOUIS - An employee who exchanged "I love yous" with her superior and occasionally touched him in a platonic manner and failed to file any complaints about his conduct creating a hostile work environment until she filed a federal complaint against her employer after she resigned cannot now prove a hostile work environment claim, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 31 (Bobbette M. Blake v. MJ Optical, Inc., No. 16-3100, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16742).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration on Aug. 31 published in the Federal Register a proposed 18-month extension from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019, of the special transition period for the fiduciary rule's Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Principal Transactions Exemption and certain amendments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24.
LOS ANGELES - After finding that the makers of down feather products failed to show that claims asserted by a former employer for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and other causes of action did not meet the amount in controversy requirements to maintain federal jurisdiction, a California federal judge on Aug. 28 remanded the case to state court (Maria Serrano v. Pacific Coast Feather Cushion Co., et al., No. 17-4414, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138153).
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 29 affirmed a Minnesota federal judge's decision that a trades service association has a right to collect fringe benefit contributions due under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), saying that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits a fiduciary of a plan, like the association, to bring a civil action to enforce the obligation arising under a plan or a collectively bargained agreement (Twin City Pipe Trades Service Association, Inc. v. Wenner Quality Services, Inc., No. 16-1791, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16468).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Aug. 25 dismissed several claims in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action lawsuit against New York University, saying that the plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts to support their claims that the university breached its duty of loyalty by not offering any factual allegations that actions taken by the university benefitted a third party or itself (Dr. Alan Sacerdote, et al. v. New York University, et al., No. 1:16-cv-6284, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137115).
PASADENA, Calif. - A railway worker who was diagnosed with sleep apnea after he was facing discipline for numerous absences and was ultimately terminated due to those absences failed to show that he was a victim of disability discrimination, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 25 (Antonio Alamillo v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 15-56091, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16267).
CHICAGO - Two funeral home companies that were owned by the same parties, merged and then ceased operations were a single employer and failed to show that the combined employees amounted to one individual, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 28, rejecting the employer's attempt to claim that it properly repudiated the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) under the National Labor Relation Board's "one-man unit rule" (Cremation Society of Illinois, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 727, No. 16-2322, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16449).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission simply co-opted existing standards in concluding that a 30 percent incentive for disclosing certain protected information to employee health programs was not coercive rather than considering the impact the rule would have in different settings, a federal judge in the District of Columbia held Aug. 22 in remanding the rule for further consideration (AARP v. United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 16-2113, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180612).
CINCINNATI - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 22 affirmed a Michigan federal judge's ruling that a participant was not entitled to additional benefits under Chrysler Corp.'s accident insurance plan because the total permanent disability benefit was discontinued by the plan before the participant's July 2008 car crash that left him unable to work (John Butler v. FCA US, LLC, No. 16-2726, 6th Cir.).
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 22 affirmed that a laborers union health and welfare fund had a right to a portion of a settlement attributable to medical expenses, agreeing with a Minnesota federal judge that the fund had a first-priority subrogation interest in that payment (Tim Mackey, et al. v. Terry Lynn Johnson, et al., No. 16-1886, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16014).
BOSTON - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 22 affirmed a Connecticut federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a participant in a health care benefit plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act who did not promptly receive requested documents pertaining to her plan because the complaint was filed outside Connecticut's one-year statute of limitations to recover civil forfeitures (Jennifer L. Brown v. Rawlings Financial Services, LLC, et al., No. 16-3748, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15934).
CINCINNATI - A management company that was hired to turn around a nursing home suffering from health and safety violations, but failed to do so, is not liable for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act violation claims brought by a class of employees because it was not the employer, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 18 (Debi McKinney, et al. v. Carlton Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Inc., et al., No. 16-3895, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15647).
ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 14 vacated a Florida federal judge's dismissal of laboratory companies' claims relating to self-funded health care plans, saying that the contractual question of whether an assignment of benefits covers self-funded plans is best addressed by the trial court after the benefit of discovery (BioHealth Medical Laboratory Inc., et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 16-101978, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15010).
TRENTON, N.J. - A driver for Lyft Inc., a transportation service ordered by customers via a mobile phone application, filed a class complaint on Aug. 15 in New Jersey federal court accusing Lyft of misrepresenting to drivers the fares being paid by riders and, as a result, paying drivers less than the amount to which they are contractually entitled (Keara Nieves, et al. v. Lyft, Inc., No. 17-6146, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 14 affirmed that an amendment to a pension plan did not violate the anti-cutback provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the amendment did not decrease a participant's accrued benefits (Vincent Morrone v. The Pension Fund of Local No. One, I.A.T.S.E., No. 16-723, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15026).