SAN FRANCISCO - Factual disputes remain as to whether store managers employed by an auto parts chain primarily performed managerial duties, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 12, reversing a trial court's grant of summary judgment in the employer's favor (Michael L. Taylor, et al. v. AutoZone, Inc., et al., No. 12-15378, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8852).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 12 declined to reconsider approval of a settlement in two cases that are part of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas alleging that Wachovia Corp., Wachovia Mortgage Corp. and World Mortgage Co. - collectively, Wachovia - and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank - collectively, Wells Fargo - misclassified mortgage workers to avoid paying them overtime wages (In re: Wells Fargo Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation [No. III], No. 11-2266, S.D. Texas; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64843).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on May 13 granted a motion for court-authorized notice in a class complaint filed by students who worked for a Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) subsidiary and allege that they were improperly misclassified as unpaid interns (Kyle Grant, et al. v. Warner Music Group Corp., et al., No. 13-4449, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65664).
SAN DIEGO - A doctor cannot pursue claims under the California Labor Code and unfair competition law (UCL) against his former employer, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VA), because the claims are barred by sovereign immunity, a federal judge held May 9 (Walter M. Shaw v. Veterans Health Administration, et al., No. 12-2369, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64598).
LAS VEGAS - A fast food restaurant chain in Nevada illegally paid employees less than the lawful minimum wage after claiming that it had the right to compensate employees at a reduced minimum wage rate under the Nevada Constitution, four employees allege in a class complaint filed May 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (Latonya Tyus, et al. v. Wendy's of Las Vegas, Inc., et al., No. 14-729, D. Nev.).
RICHMOND, Va. - The former president and CEO of a security equipment company failed to prove that his termination was caused by activity protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 12 (Paul H. Feldman v. Law Enforcement Associates Corporation, et al., No. 13-1849, 4th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8833).
CINCINNATI - Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 510 does not protect a one-time unsolicited complaint to an employer about alleged violations of ERISA, a divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 9 (Brian Sexton v. Panel Processing, Inc., et al., No. 13-1604, 6th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8752).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board on May 12 issued a notice and invitation to file briefs in a case concerning whether Northwestern University's football players who receive scholarships to play football at the university are employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and are entitled to vote on whether to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) for collective bargaining purposes (Northwestern University and College Athletes Players Association $(CAPA$), No. 13-RC-121359, NLRB).
CHICAGO - Following an Illinois federal judge's ruling that using a profit-sharing plan's assets to satisfy a judgment against the plan for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act would not violate the exclusive benefit rule, fiduciary duty requirements or prohibited transaction rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a plan participant on May 9 filed a motion for reconsideration, seeking a ruling exempting her plan assets from being subject to satisfaction of the outstanding judgment pursuant to ERISA's anti-alienation provisions (David R. Gray, Jr. v. Phoenix Bond & Indemnity Co., et al., No. 12 C 6281, N.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58171).
SAN DIEGO - Costco Wholesale Corp. on May 7 removed a class complaint that was filed in the San Diego County Superior Court by pharmacists and managers alleging various wage violations to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, asserting original jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, original jurisdiction under 28 U.S. Code Section 1332(a)(1) and removal jurisdiction under 28 U.S. Code Sections 1441(a) and 1446 (Paula Dittmar, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., No. 14-1156, S.D. Calif.).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on May 9 granted a Catholic health organization's motion to dismiss a class action complaint brought by a participant in its pension plan who is challenging the organization's claims that its pension plans are church plans exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, finding that the organization is controlled by or associated with a church (Marilyn Overall v. Ascension Health, et al., No. 13-11396, E.D. Mich.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64116).
ST. LOUIS - The substantial-compliance doctrine does not interfere with discretion granted to a plan administrator by an ERISA plan, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 8 in affirming that an insurer did not abuse its discretion in denying a widow's claim to receive the proceeds of her husband's life insurance policy (Jane Marie Hall v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 13-1332, 8th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8652).
SAN FRANCISCO - A health insurer's categorical exclusion of myoelectric prosthetics from coverage under a health insurance plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not violate the California Health and Safety Code, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed May 8 (Martha Garcia v. PacifiCare of California, Inc., et al., No. 8:12-cv-02022, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8659).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on May 8 granted final approval to a class settlement in which a Pennsylvania hospital will pay $475,000 to settle claims that it violated a state wage law by paying overtime only when certain employees worked in excess of eight hours in one day or 80 hours in a pay period (Michele Sakalas, et al. v. Wilkes-Barre Hospital Co., et al., No. 11-546, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63823).
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 7 reinstated a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 claim brought by current and former Boston police officers and cadets who allege that the Boston Police Department's drug testing method is discriminatory (Ronnie Jones, et al. v. City of Boston, et al., No. 12-2280, 1st Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8560).
PHILADELPHIA - In reversing a lower court, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 6 held that health care providers' direct and derivative claims fall outside the scope of an arbitration agreement with a health insurance provider and thus the claims at issue are not subject to arbitration (CardioNet Inc., et al. v. CIGNA Health Corp., No. 13-2496, 3rd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8468).
HOUSTON - A health benefits plan is entitled to an equitable lien over funds that a participant received in a third-party settlement pursuant to the plan's reimbursement/subrogation provision under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal judge in Texas ruled May 2 in granting the plan's motion for summary judgment (Humana Health Plan, Inc. v. Patrick Nguyen, et al., No. H-13-1793, S.D. Texas; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61239).
SPOKANE, Wash. - An underfunded multiemployer pension plan that adopted a rehabilitation plan eliminating subsidized early retirement benefits pursuant to the Pension Protection Act (PPA) did not violate the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge in Washington ruled May 2 (Gerald C. Arendt, et al. v. Washington-Idaho-Montana Carpenters-Employers Retirement Trust Fund, et al., No. CV-11-5135, E.D. Wash.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62061).
MOBILE, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on May 5 granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful denial of health care benefits suit, finding that the plaintiff failed to sue the proper parties (Melisa Courtney v. ART Applied Reimbursement Techniques Inc., et al., No. 12-311, S.D. Ala.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61624).
NEW YORK - The anti?cutback rule in ERISA Section 204(g) precludes plan amendments that reduce retirement-type subsidies for plan participants who ceased employment without satisfying the pre-amendment conditions for the subsidy but who could later satisfy the pre-amendment conditions without returning to work, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed May 1 (Rafael Alcantara, et al. v. Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund Pension Plan, et al., Nos. 12?4834?cv, 12?4839?cv, 12?4851?cv, 12?4861?cv, 12?4912?cv, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8278).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 5 declined to reconsider a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a federal district court properly held that a disability insurer did not abuse its discretion under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by terminating benefits based on medical evidence that post-dated a Social Security Administration (SSA) determination that the claimant was disabled (Susan Nugent v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, No. 13-1182, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A health benefits plan that excludes benefits for same sex and domestic partners does not violate Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 510's prohibition of interference with the attainment of benefits, a federal judge in New York ruled May 1 (Jane Roe, et al. v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, et al., No. 12-cv-04788, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61345).
DENVER - Retaliation in the form of seven promotion denials cannot be proven where seven independent and informed decision makers are involved, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 5, upholding the rejection of a school custodian's lawsuit against his employer (Charles Davis v. Unified School District 500, et al., No. 13-3224, 10th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8389).
RICHMOND, Va. - An outsourcing and technology company's former senior manager must arbitrate his age bias claims because he failed to show that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 invalidates an arbitration agreement since the former employee is not a whistle-blower, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 5 (Armand Santoro v. Accenture Federal Services, LLC, et al., No. 12-2561, 4th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8410).
ST. LOUIS - Tax professionals are not owed compensation for the time they spent completing 24 hours of rehire training, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 2 (Barbara Petroski, et al. v. H&R Block Enterprises, LLC, et al., No. 13-2076, 8th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8291).