PHILADELPHIA - Anti-assignment provisions in health insurance contracts are enforceable and bar a provider's Employee Retirement Income Security Act suit, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 16 (American Orthopedic & Sports Medicine v. Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield, et al., No. 17-1663, 3rd Cir.).
HELENA, Mont. - A trial court didn't err when it found that a woman who sued a company performing background checks over the inclusion of obsolete information in checks carried out for potential employers failed to satisfy the element of superiority under Montana Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) in her motion for class certification, a divided Montana Supreme Court ruled May 15 (Nissa Ascencio, et al. v. Orion International Corp., No. DA 17-0353, Mont. Sup., 2018 MT 121).
SAN FRANCISCO - Lyft Inc., an app-based taxi service, has deceived and violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by misrepresenting and changing fare practices, one driver alleges in his May 10 class complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Fernando Villasenor, et al. v. Lyft, Inc., et al., No. 18-2769, N.D. Calif.).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A magistrate judge erred in recommending dismissal of a former casino employee's wage-and-hour class claims based on the employer's connection to an Indian tribe, the ex-worker says in a May 11 objection to the magistrate judge's memorandum and recommendation in North Carolina federal court (Joseph Clark v. Harrah's NC Casino Company, LLC, et al., No. 1:17-cv-00240, W.D. N.C.).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 rejected a petition to reconsider its finding that an amendment to a pension plan's calculation of retirement income credits does not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's anti-cutback rule (James P. Teufel v. The Northern Trust Co., et al., Nos. 17-1676, 17-1677, 7th Cir.).
ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 10 reaffirmed the precedent established in Evans v. Ga. Regional Hospital, 850 F.3d 1248, 1255 (11th Cir. 2017), and ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., does not cover bias based on sexual orientation (Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners, et al., No. 17-13801, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12405).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 14 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by an out-of-network health care provider denied coverage by an Employee Retirement Income Security Act administrator for more than $11 million in claims that was seeking a ruling on two ERISA-related issues (Humble Surgical Hospital, LLC v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-1325, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3013).
MADISON, Wis. - Direct employers are not subject to liability in a case alleging discrimination against transgender individuals in the provision of health insurance, but claims against the providers of that insurance may proceed and the plaintiffs may amend their Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) claims, a federal judge in Wisconsin held May 11 (Alina Boyden and Shannon Andrews v. State of Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, et al., No. 17-264, W.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191306).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 weighed in on a longstanding dispute between retirees and their retirement plan, writing that because it "cannot discern the contours of the parties' intent" from plan language relating to early retirement reductions for post-2004 retirees, a summary judgment that the plan is unambiguous must be vacated (Elizabeth A. Clemons, et al. v. Norton Healthcare Inc Retirement Plan, Nos. 16-5063, -5124, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12226).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 14 agreed to hear an appeal over the payment of employment taxes under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) on a railroad's payment to a worker for time lost from work due to work-related injuries (BNSF Railway Company v. Michael D. Loos, No. 17-1042, U.S. Sup.).
NORFOLK, Va. - A Virginia federal judge on May 9 issued two separate opinions, one granting conditional certification and the second partially granting dismissal in a complaint brought by a former Virginia school district computer specialist who alleges that a decision to force all specialists to reapply for their jobs discriminated against older employees (Joseph H. Andreana et al. v. Virginia Beach City Public Schools, et al., No. 17-574, E.D. Va., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78799, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78801).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 9 granted a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants in a class action alleging that a retirement plan breached its duty to diversify and its duty of prudent following a spinoff of the company because the plan did not mandate that the participants' assets remain in specific stock funds created following the spinoff (Jeffery Schweitzer et al., v. The Investment Committee of the Phillips 66 Savings Plan et al., No. 17-3013, S.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77788).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge did not err in granting a retirement plan summary judgment on allegations that it breached its fiduciary duty when ending medical benefits for a retiree who violated a plan provision relating to continued work in the construction industry, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 7 (John D. Bickhart v. Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity, No. 17-2834, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11888).
RICHMOND, Va. - A human resources expert for a woman alleging that her former employer discriminated against her because of her age cannot testify in the case because the expert's opinions are "impermissible legal conclusions" with no reliable methodology supporting them, a Virginia federal judge ruled May 4 (Angela Georges v. Dominion Payroll Services, LLC, No. 3:16-cv-777, E.D. Va., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76112).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following a majority of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling that vacated the U.S. Department of Labor's 2016 "fiduciary rule," the DOL on May 7 issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-02, announcing a temporary enforcement policy related to its rule defining who is a "fiduciary" under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and associated prohibited transaction exemptions, noting that this "temporary enforcement relief is appropriate and in the interest of plans, plan fiduciaries, plan participants and beneficiaries, IRAs, and IRA owners."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new policy implemented by a union requiring members to appear in person with a photo identification and written request to revoke their membership or opt out of dues deduction violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by restricting members' rights, a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 8 (Local 58, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers [IBEW], AFL-CIO v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 17-1058, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11972).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Age Discrimination in Employment Act's (ADEA) Section 630(b) 20-employee minimum that applies to private employers also applies to state agencies and political subdivisions of the state, an Arizona fire district argues in its petitioner brief filed May 7 in the U.S. Supreme Court (Mount Lemmon Fire District v. John Guido, et al., No. 17-587, U.S. Sup.).
SAN DIEGO - A California jury in a two-phased verdict issued May 3 and May 4 awarded a former insurance company field sales leader more than $18.6 million on claims that he was wrongfully fired following criminal charges that he claimed were filed falsely and were ultimately dropped (Michael A. Tilkey v. Allstate Insurance Company, No. 27-2016-00015545-CU-OE-CTL, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must clarify its treatment of an administrative law judge's credibility finding in a dispute over a dancer's firing after she spoke up about pay and working conditions, a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 4 (David Saxe Productions, LLC, et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 16-1315, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11653).
ATLANTA - A loss prevention manager employed by a retail chain who was denied a promotion two years in a row failed to show that the decisions constituted racial discrimination, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 4 (Sherwin Fraser v. J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc., No. 17-13262, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11778).
ALBANY, N.Y. - Because a former McDonald's employee showed that his position at the franchise was terminated the day after he hurt himself at work and shortly after returning from leave, a New York federal judge on May 2 refused to dismiss the majority of his claims against franchisors, including a cause of action for retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (Johnny W. Crosby Jr. v. McDonald's of Guilderland, LLC, et al., No. 1:17-CV-1160, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74168).
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Less than a month after certification of a class of current and former participants in Duke University's retirement plan suing over allegedly excessive fees and the inclusion of imprudent investment funds and less than two weeks after filing a motion for a jury trial, the plaintiffs moved on May 3 to file a third amended complaint (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 16-1044, M.D. N.C.).
SAN DIEGO - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint on May 3 in a California federal court on behalf of a class of Hispanic workers accusing a national grocery chain of violating federal law when it enacted a no-Spanish policy (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Albertsons Companies Inc., et al., No. 18-0852, S.D. Calif.).
CINCINNATI - A disability claimant's benefits must be reinstated because the disability insurer failed to give sufficient weight to the opinions of the claimant's treating physicians, who stated that the claimant was unable to return to work after a leg injury, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 3 in reversing a district court's judgment in favor of the insurer (Richard Wagner v. American United Life Insurance, No. 17-4072, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11477).
NEW ORLEANS - A majority of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 2 denied motions by California, New York, Oregon and AARP to intervene in a majority ruling that reversed a Texas federal court's decision rejecting business groups' challenges of the U.S. Department of Labor's "fiduciary rule" and vacated the rule in toto (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al., American Council of Life Insurers, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al., Indexed Annuity Leadership Council, et al. v. R. Alexander Acosta, et al., No. 17-10238, 5th Cir.).