CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 23 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that an insurer has no duty to defend its farm insured against an underlying injury claim brought by an independent contractor because the employers liability coverage extends only to injuries of employees (Danny Swafford v. Forestry Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-6475, 6th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on July 21 denied a motion by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart Transportation LLC (collectively, Wal-Mart) to certify an interlocutory appeal, finding Wal-Mart's questions of law to be "over-broad, argumentative and untethered" (Charles Ridgeway, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al., No. 08-5221, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94981).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on July 21 granted final approval of a $7.15 million settlement to be paid by Foot Locker Inc. to end a wage-and-hour multidistrict litigation (In Re: Foot Locker, Inc., Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Wage and Hour Litigation, No. 11-MDL-02235, E.D. Pa.).
ATLANTA - A district court must reconsider whether an arbitration agreement between a restaurant and its server is enforceable in a wage dispute, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 21, finding that a trial court failed to issue an order properly explaining its decision to not enforce the agreement (Marquisha Matthews v, Ultimate Sports Bar, LLC, et al., No. 14-14809, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12549).
PHILADELPHIA - Courts must look to the economic realities, not the structure, of the relationship between a business and its workers to determine whether those workers are employees or independent contractors, a split Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 21 (Mikael M. Safarian v. American DG Energy Inc. v. Multiservice Power, Inc., No. 14-2734, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12548).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 17 confirmed an arbitration panel's award in favor of a talk-show radio host in a syndication dispute but denied the host's request for sanctions (Dr. Michael A. Weiner, et al. v. The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc., No. 13-16111, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12389).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - A federal judge in Illinois on July 17 awarded $20.6 million in fees and $1.6 million in costs and, on July 20, granted final approval to a $62 million settlement of claims by participants in two of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s 401(k) plans that the plans' fiduciaries breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing the plans to pay excessive administrative expenses, by investing in a stable-value fund (SVF) that did not result in a rate of return that was sufficient for a retirement asset and by mismanaging the plan's company stock funds (CSFs) (Anthony Abbott, et al. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., et al., No. 06-cv-701, S.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93206).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A fire captain who was terminated after she refused to consent to a fitness-for-duty evaluation without changes to the waiver may partially proceed with claims that she was required to undergo the evaluation in retaliation for complaints protected under the District of Columbia Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act), a divided District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 (Vanessa Coleman v. District of Columbia, et al., No. 12-7114, D.C. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12350).
LOS ANGELES - A former Rite Aid Corp. store manager who claimed that he was subjected to harassment and discrimination and was ultimately fired after he became disabled as the result of an injury he sustained while attempting to stop a robbery at his store was awarded nearly $8.8 million by a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury, the plaintiff's attorney announced July 21 (Robert Leggins v. Rite Aid Corporation, et al., No. BC511139, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board must prove, on remand, that its settlement with an employer to pay back pay to an employee over 11 years with no interest accrual, reached despite objections from the employee, is reasonable and fair, a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 17 (Jamison John Dupuy v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 14-1001, D.C. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12349).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 15 reinstated a sexual harassment suit filed by a temporary factory employee, opining that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for joint employer liability and that when the "hybrid" test is properly applied to the worker's suit, both the factory and the temp agency were the worker's employers (Brenda Butler v. Drive Automotive Industries of America, Incorporated, et al., No. 14-1348, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12188).
ATLANTA - A federal district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that a disability plan's claims administrator and plan administrator are not liable for penalties and attorney fees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for failure to provide plan documents to a plan participant, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 in an unpublished opinion (Allena Burge Smiley, D.M.D. v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, No. 15-10056, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12334).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A former employee's claims against a Nike Netherlands affiliate must be litigated in Dutch court, not the United States, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 16, upholding a trial court's decision (Loredana Ranza v. Nike, Inc., et al., No. 13-35251, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12290).
NEW YORK - A medical center's severance policy that had been maintained for almost 25 years and had not been modified for 15 years was an employee welfare benefit plan within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 (Alexander Okun, MD, v. Montefiore Medical Center, No. 13-3928-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S App. LEXIS 12361).
NEW YORK - Health care providers are not beneficiaries of their patients' health insurance plans and, therefore, do not have standing to assert anti-retaliation protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 15 (Henry L. Rojas, M.D., et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-3455, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12210).
PHILADELPHIA - A former UPS Supply Chain Solutions employee failed to show that his termination, following excessive absences, interfered with his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 16 (Myron Giddens v. UPS Supply Chain Solutions, No. 14-4291, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12279).
NEW YORK - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on July 15 filed a religious bias lawsuit against United Parcel Service Inc. in New York federal court, accusing the company of unlawfully discriminating against a class of male applicants and employees who have beards or long hair as part of their religious observance (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 15-4141, E.D. N.Y.).
BOSTON - A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employee filed a class complaint on July 14 in Massachusetts federal court accusing the retailer of unlawfully depriving health benefits to the spouses of employees who are in same-sex marriages (Jacqueline A. Cote, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 15-12945, D. Mass.).
ATLANTA - A disability insurer did not wrongfully deny a claim for long-term disability benefits because the claimant did not carry his burden of proving that he was entitled to long-term benefits under the plan at issue, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 10 (Greg Oliver v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-15259, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11939).
NEW YORK - A U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York judge on July 10 refused to dismiss a wage-and-hour class complaint filed against the owners of two New York restaurants but agreed with the defendants that the proper venue was the Northern District of New York (Andrew Spiciarich, et al. v. Mexican Radio Corp., et al., No. 14-9009, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89924).
ST. LOUIS - Affirming a lower court's findings related to qualified immunity and unauthorized access of emails, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 10 mostly upheld a trial court's judgment against a firefighter who was fired for sending two emails that were deemed "inflammatory" (Stevon Anzaldua v. Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, et al., No. 14-1850, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11906).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Employees of a shipping broker may partially proceed with claims that they were improperly classified as exempt from receiving overtime pay; however, they failed to prove that the alleged violations were willful or that they should proceed as a class, a Kansas federal judge ruled July 10 (Nancy Koehler, et al. v. Freightquote.com, Inc., et al., No. 12-2505, D. Kan.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89691).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on July 8 denied a motion by female workers seeking equitable tolling of the limitations period for their claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), finding that the case did not involve "rare and exceptional circumstances" where such a remedy would be appropriate (Megan Barrett, et al. v. Forest Laboratories, Inc., et al., No. 12-5224, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88299).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on July 10 granted a motion to compel claims asserted by an onboard medical officer who was allegedly injured while working on a cruise ship, finding the claims subject to an arbitration agreement in her employment contract (Brenda K. Ringewald v. Holland America Line - USA Inc., et al., No. 1:15-cv-20254, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89758).
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - On remand from the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a federal judge in Missouri on July 9 entered judgment in favor of the fiduciaries of the ABB Inc. 401(k) plan, even though the judge found that the fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties regarding the selection of investment options, because the participants failed to prove damages consistent with the Eighth Circuit's proposed calculation (Ronald Tussey, et al. v. ABB Inc., et al., No. 2:06-cv-04305, W.D. Mo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89068).