ATLANTA - After finding that a former cruise ship worker's injury-related claims fell within the scope of an arbitration agreement in her employment contract, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 10 affirmed a district court's decision to compel arbitration of the dispute (Claudia Ester Sierra v. Cruise Ships Catering and Services International, N.V., et al., No. 14-14940; 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19535).
PHILADELPHIA - A transgender male filed a complaint on Nov. 11 against his former employer, Giant Food Stores LLC, in a Pennsylvania federal court, alleging that he was wrongly required to wear a uniform designed for female employees (Sam Melrath v. Giant Food Stores, LLC, No. 15-6077, E.D. Pa.).
CINCINNATI - A divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 10 rejected claims that State Street Bank and Trust Co. breached its statutory duty of prudence as fiduciary of the General Motors (GM) Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) (Raymond M. Pfeil and Michael Kammer v. State Street Bank and Trust Company, No. 14-1491, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19536).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 12 partially reinstated electricians' age discrimination claims against their union, finding that the trial court erred when it held that a union official's expressions of resentment against the plaintiffs for their administrative claims against the union could not show retaliatory intent (Aeyiou P. Kazolias, et al. v. IBEW LU 363, et al., No. 13-4566, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19729).
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The plaintiffs in a class dispute over the fees charged to their retirement plan moved Nov. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina for preliminary approval of a $32 million settlement and certification of their settlement class (Karolyn Kruger, M.D., et al. v. Novant Health Inc., et al., No. 14-208, M.D. N.C.).
CHICAGO - Two defendants' failure to brief a motion to dismiss after the original moving defendant was dismissed waived their opposition to continued litigation, and nothing suggests that the asbestos widow's short delay in moving to substitute herself as plaintiff was done in bad faith, a federal judge held Nov. 10 (Theresa Sydow, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 14-219, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152160).
SEATTLE - Recent case law clarifies that expiration of a man's personal injury claim also bars his widow's wrongful death action, a Washington appeals court held Nov. 9 (Geraldine Barabin, et al. v. AstenJohnson Inc., et al., Nos. 72626-9-1, 72720-6-1, 72721-4-1, 72722-2-1, 727224-9-1, 72725-7-1, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 2726).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 6 affirmed a district court's dismissal of breach of fiduciary duty and cutback claims alleged against a former employer and its pension plan after determining that the claims do not relate back to the claims alleged in the original class action complaint filed in 2007 (Jennifer Durand, et al. v. The Hanover Insurance Group Inc., et al., No. 14-5648, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19385).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 9 heard arguments regarding whether an employee welfare plan's attempt to recover an alleged overpayment from a participant constitutes permissible "equitable relief" under Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 502(a)(3), where the participant spent the funds subject to the lien (Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 14-723, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A class action is appropriate only when classwide injury may be determined in a single stroke, the attorney representing Tyson Foods Inc. in a donning and doffing dispute argued Nov. 10 before the U.S. Supreme Court (Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Peg Bouaphakeo, et al., No. 14-1146, U.S. Sup.).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Nov. 4 granted a summary judgment motion filed by Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and Wachovia Mortgage Corp. (collectively, Wells Fargo) in a wage-and-hour multidistrict litigation, finding that the claims remaining after many of the plaintiffs settled are barred under the doctrine of res judicata (In re: Wells Fargo Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation [No. III], No. 11-2266, S.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149715).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Nov. 7 granted summary judgment to Apple Inc. in a class suit filed by retail workers seeking compensation for the time they spent waiting in line for and undergoing a security check of their bags before leaving after their shifts were over (Amanda Frlekin, et al. v. Apple Inc., Nos. 13-3451, 13-3775 and 13-4727, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92768).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Boeing Co. and participants in its 401(k) plan on Nov. 5 moved in Illinois federal court for preliminary approval of a $57 million settlement, ending nine years of litigation related to excessive fee claims alleged under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Gary Spano, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 06-743, S.D. Ill.).
CHICAGO - While it creates a harsh outcome, Illinois law forecloses on a tort remedy for a man whose mesothelioma arose outside the state's 25-year limit on workers' compensation claims, the majority of the Illinois Supreme Court held Nov. 4 (Ellen Folta, et al. v. Ferro Engineering, a division of ON Marine Services Co., No. 118070, Ill. Sup.).
DENVER - A district court's finding that a supervisor's conduct may have made people uncomfortable doesn't mean that the court erred in denying a subordinate's hostile work environment claim, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 30 (Bryan McElroy v. American Family Insurance, a/k/a American Family Insurance Group, No. 14-4134, 10th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18904).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 26 reaffirmed its decision in D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB (737 F.3d 344 [5th Cir. 2013]) and held that an employer may enforce an arbitration agreement prohibiting employee class or collective actions (Murphy Oil USA, Incorporated v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 14-60800, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18673).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on Oct. 27 directed the defendants in a wage-and-hour collective action filed by a model to send a corrective notice to the potential collective action members and to produce within 30 days all other correspondence sent to members regarding the lawsuit (Eva Agerbrink, et al. v. Model Service LLC d/b/a MSA Models, et al., No. 14-7841, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145563).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 affirmed a district court's dismissal of a disability pension benefits dispute after determining that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's anti-cutback and anti-forfeiture provisions do not apply to disability pension benefit plans (Kenneth L. Myers, et al. v. Bricklayers and Masons Local 22 Pension Plan, et al., No. 14-4234, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18586).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Oct. 20 granted conditional certification to a group of minor league baseball players suing the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, its member franchises and former Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig for unpaid wages (Aaron Senne, et al. v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp., et al., No. 14-608, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143011).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 20 affirmed the 2013 furloughs of civilian workers at two Army Working Capital Fund (AWCF) entities after finding that even though both entities did not face funding shortfalls or a reduction in orders, the furloughs "promoted the efficiency of the service and were in accordance with law" (National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 1442, No. 2014-3175, National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 2109 v. Watervliet Arsenal, No. 2014-3189, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18136).
NEW YORK - The New York City Department of Education (DOE) did not discriminate against a teacher who was absent part of the year due to injuries sustained in a car accident by giving her a partial bonus; however, the trial court, whose judgment in favor of the DOE was affirmed, erred in basing its decision on Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals precedents, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 19 (Catharine E. Davis v. New York City Department of Education, et al., No. 14-1034, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18115).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Oct. 16 denied a motion filed jointly by the parties in wage-and-hour class suit brought by workers who were paid on a per-task basis to modify his July 2 order approving a $585,507 settlement (Christopher Otey, et al. v. CrowdFlower, Inc., et al., No. 12-5524, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141338).
LOS ANGELES - The plaintiffs in a class suit accusing Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (SPE) of failing to prevent a 2014 network breach that compromised the personal information of former employees moved Oct. 19 for preliminary approval of a more than $8 million class settlement (Michael Corona, et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., No. 2:14-cv-09600, C.D. Calif.).
CARSON CITY, Nev. - An employer may be liable for an employee's criminal conduct if it was reasonably foreseeable, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Oct. 15 reversing the dismissal of claims against a Las Vegas casino by a guest who was sexually assaulted by an employee (Cristie N. Anderson, et al. v. Mandalay Corporation, et al., Nos. 61305 and 61871, Nev. Sup.; 2015 Nev. LEXIS 97).
CHICAGO - A former fire department lieutenant who was fired for allegedly verbalizing threats to a co-worker failed to show that the board that ultimately terminated him was influenced by a biased department employee, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 15 (John Michael Woods v. City of Berwyn, No. 13-3766, 7th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 17913).