PHILADELPHIA - An administrative law judge (ALJ) on March 14 ruled that Chipotle Services LLC's (doing business as Chipotle Mexican Grill) social media code violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and that the fast food chain committed further violations by directing an employee to delete certain tweets, prohibiting the employee from circulating a petition challenging the chain's break policy and terminating the employee for his actions (Chipotle Services LLC d/b/a Chipotle Mexican Grill and Pennsylvania Workers Organizing Committee, a Project of the Fast Food Workers Committee, Nos. 04-CA-147314 and 04-CA-149551, NLRB Judges Div.).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 10 denied a request to expand the scope of the class in a wage-and-hour dispute to include both salaried and hourly employees, finding that the lead plaintiff who was salaried failed to show that hourly employees were similarly situated (Julie L. Schneck v. Lawrence D. Brudy & Associates, Inc., No. 15-1058, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31050).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A Connecticut federal judge on March 11 ruled that a correctional officer applicant was barred from bringing gender bias class claims both due to a failure to show that her alleged injuries would be redressed by a ruling in her favor and under the doctrine of res judicata (Denisha Davis, et al. v. State of Connecticut Department of Correction, et al., No. 15-57, D. Conn.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31399).
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A Minnesota federal judge on March 10 decertified a class of sales persons who allege that they were forced to work off the clock and granted summary judgment to the employer on the claims brought by the two remaining plaintiffs (Kenneth Lindsay, et al. v. Clear Wireless LLC, et al., No. 13-834, D. Minn.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31663).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana federal judge on March 10 affirmed a lower court's ruling that there is no professional liability coverage for federal allegations that a labor staffing company insured violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment on the insured's claims for breach of contract and bad faith (Treo Staffing LLC v. AXIS Surplus Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-332, M.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30764).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On remand from the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a North Carolina federal judge on March 11 concluded that an accounting of profits earned by Bank of America Corp. (BAC) should be determined in the aggregate and not based upon profits earned by BAC with regard to the assets of individual participants in a BAC 401(k) plan (William L. Pender, et al. v. Bank of America Corporation, et al., No. 05-238, W.D. N.C.).
HARTFORD, Conn. - Because a disability insurer was properly appointed with fiduciary authority under an employer's disability plan to conduct an administrative appeal review of the denial of a disability benefits claim, an arbitrary-and-capricious standard of review must be applied, a Connecticut federal judge said March 9 in granting the plan's motion for partial summary judgment (Jennifer Dwinnell v. Federal Express Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 14-1439, D. Conn.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29963).
PHOENIX - A damages expert may testify that, in his opinion, the appropriate formula for calculating any minimum wage shortfalls in a wage dispute lawsuit is the effective hourly rate of pay formula, an Arizona federal judge ruled March 8 (Michael Wagner v. ABW Legacy Corp., Inc., et al. No. 13-2245, D. Ariz.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29376).
TRENTON, N.J. - Efforts by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and ExpressJet Airlines to obtain dismissal of an out-of-network health care provider's allegation of Employee Retirement Income Security Act violations were unsuccessful March 7, when a New Jersey federal judge ruled instead that the case should proceed (Atlantic Orthopaedic Associates LLC v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, et al., No. 15-1854, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29360).
GREENVILLE, S.C. - A plaintiff's claim for breach of a salary continuation agreement constitutes an enforcement action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and is accordingly subject to federal preemption, according to a March 7 ruling by a South Carolina federal judge (Frederick D. Shepherd Jr. v. Community First Bank, et al., No. 15-4337, D. S.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28378).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 7 granted a petition by the National Labor Relations Board to enforce its use of the two-step analysis from Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile (357 NLRB No. 83 ) to determine that only drivers and not dockworkers should be included in bargaining units at two FedEx Freight Inc. terminals (FedEx Freight, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 15-1848, 15-1999, 15-2494 and 15-2732, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4221).
ALBANY, N.Y. - In a securities fraud action filed by employees, a New York federal judge on March 7 allowed certain testimony from defense experts on fiduciary duty standards and when the employer should have disclosed a financial investment offer (Clifford P. Beede, et al. v. Stiefel Laboratories, Inc. and Charles W. Stiefel, No. 13-120, N.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28304).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split National Labor Relations Board panel on March 3 ordered a satellite television provider to cease and desist from maintaining its policy barring solicitation in the workplace and make whole a former employee who was terminated after he solicited coworkers to join in his complaint regarding the company's pay practices (Dish Network, LLC and David Rabb, No. 27-CA-131084, NLRB).
SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 7 affirmed a trial court's decision rejecting an unfair labor practices petition filed against an employer by the then-acting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, finding that the acting general counsel held his post in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) when he served in that position while also being the nominee to the permanent position (Ronald K. Hooks, Regional Director of the Nineteenth Region of the National Labor Relations Board, for an on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board v. Kitsap Tenant Support Services, Inc., No. 13-35912, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4246).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 7 directed the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not preempt a Michigan state law established to generate revenue necessary to fund the state's obligations under Medicaid in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. (Self-Insurance Institute of America v. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 14-741, U.S. Sup.).
TOPEKA, Kan. - A trial judge did not err in excluding a liability expert from testifying as to breach of duty and to causation in an employee's lawsuit filed under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S. Code Section 51 et seq. (2012), a Kansas appeals panel affirmed March 4 because the expert failed to provide specific examples of what an employer did wrong or could have done better (Jay E. Smart v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 113,809, Kan. App.; 2016 Kan. App. LEXIS 16).
FRESNO, Calif. - Having previously excluded an expert's report and testimony as to dollar figures of his aggregate damages analysis for rest break premiums, meal period premiums and underpaid meal premium classes for damages pursuant to California Labor Code Section 226.7, a California federal magistrate judge on March 2 precluded plaintiffs from eliciting testimony from the defendant's expert as to the damage estimates (Sandrika Medlock, et al. v. Taco Bell Corp., et al., No. 07-01314, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26350).
BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 2 upheld a trial court's finding that a discount retailer's failure to accommodate a pregnant worker's lifting restrictions did not constitute disability discrimination or violate New Hampshire law (Nicole Lang v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., No. 15-1543, 1st Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3909).
CINCINNATI - A divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 2 upheld a trial court's summary judgment ruling in favor of a worker challenging a reduction of his benefits two years after his retirement based on a miscalculation of his years of service (John R. Paul, Jr. v. Detroit Edison Company, et al., No. 15-1493, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4169).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 1 affirmed a trial court's decision finding Ford Motor Company General Retirement Plan Retirement Committee did not owe a retired worker's estate the initial, miscalculated cash out amount that it offered the retired employee (Lydia Donati v. Ford Motor Company, General Retirement Plan, Retirement Committee, No. 15-160, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 65696).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 2 reversed the dismissal of a worker's bias claims and remanded, finding that the arbitration agreement cited by the employer in its defense was illusory (Michael Nelson v. Watch House International, L.L.C., No. 15-10531, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3959).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Feb. 29 denied a motion filed by a woman objecting to a class settlement reached with her former employer seeking to certify a judgment settling the class claims in the case prior to the resolution of the individual claims so that she can file an immediate appeal (Danette M. Moore, et al. v. Petsmart, Inc., No. 12-3577, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24836).
CINCINNATI - A Tennessee federal judge properly granted an insurance fund summary judgment on allegations that its denial of benefits was arbitrary or capricious, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in a Feb. 29 unpublished decision (Scott Foltz v. Barnhart Crane and Rigging Inc., et al., No. 15-5907, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3822).
CAMDEN, N.J. - Allegations that Aetna Inc. violated New Jersey's anti-subrogation laws were rejected, in part, on March 1 by a New Jersey federal judge on grounds of preemption by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Michelle Roche, et al. v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 13-1377, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25208).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A New York federal magistrate judge on Feb. 26 granted a motion for conditional certification of a collective action brought by a dishwasher who alleges that his former employer skirted overtime wages by using two time cards per worker (Orbin Zaldivar, et al. v. JMJ Caterers, Inc. d/b/a The Metropolitan, et al., No. 14-924, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23969).