CINCINNATI - A Michigan federal court erred in refusing to uphold a department store's arbitration agreement that gave employees an opportunity to opt out, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 31 (Cecilia Tillman v. Macy's, Inc., No. 11-2580, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22162).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 1 affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) on claims by USAirways Inc. pilots that the PBGC violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the terminated plan when it made its final benefit determinations (Thomas G. Davis, et al. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, No. 12-5274, D.C. Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22254).
CINCINNATI - A split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 30 refused to enforce a decision by the National Labor Relations Board that an employer retaliated against several unions by filing a lawsuit claiming that the unions improperly interfered with benefits promised to the employer (National Labor Relations Board v. Allied Mechanical Services, Inc., No. 12-1235/1351, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22060).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The time workers spend putting on attire that may look like regular clothes but is worn to protect them is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), despite a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) stating otherwise, Eric Schnapper of the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle told the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 4, arguing on behalf of employees of United States Steel Corp. (Clifton Sandifer, et al. v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 12-417, U.S. Sup.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A Rhode Island federal judge on Oct. 31 granted summary judgment in favor of a health maintenance organization in a wrongful denial of benefits dispute, saying that the plan clearly did not cover the services sought (Jean Ho Rath, et al. v. Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization, No. 12-546, D. Rhode Island; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156469).
CHICAGO - An arbitrator erred in ruling that a tire manufacturing company was responsible for paying the salaries of a union's president and benefit representative, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Nov. 1 (Titan Tire Corporation of Freeport, Inc. v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, et al., No. 12-1152, 7th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22298).
CINCINNATI - A pension benefits plan and welfare benefits plan administrator did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying disability benefits to a participant for failure of proof of disability and untimeliness because the interpretation of the plans' terms was reasonable, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 30 in an unpublished opinion (Connie Thacker v. Schneider Electric USA, Inc., No. 13-5306, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22297).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 4 declined to review an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unpublished ruling that an action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to recover disability benefits is time-barred because the claimant failed to file a claim within the plan's one-year notification period (Beatriz Martinez-Claib, M.D. v. Business Men's Assurance Company of America, et al., No. 12-1403, U.S. Sup.).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A Xerox Corp. pension plan participant's claim that the plan breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by disregarding a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling and applying a phantom account offset to his pension benefits was not time-barred, although his claims for benefits were, a federal judge in New York ruled Oct. 30 (Testa v. Becker, et al., No. 10-6229, W.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155577).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal district court properly granted summary judgment to an insurer on a participant's denial of disability benefits claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because the lawsuit was barred by res judicata, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 29 in an unpublished opinion (Gayl Payton v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, No. 13-30550, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22024).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Oct. 30 granted an environmental agency's motion for judgment on claims asserted by a former employee, finding no evidence that the agency discriminated or retaliated against her in relation to her mold allergies (Connie K. Morris v. Lisa P. Jackson, No. 07-491, D. D.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155513).
NEW YORK - An insurance broker's former employee did not violate a preliminary injunction prohibiting future violations of an employee agreement with regard to the confidentiality and nonsolicitation provisions, a New York federal judge held Oct. 29, denying the insurance broker's motion for sanctions (Dewitt Stern Group Inc. v. Richard Eisenberg, No. 13-3060, S.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155134).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 29 reinstated a hostile work environment claim filed by a former college instructor finding that two timely actions along with otherwise untimely events, when considered together, provided sufficient evidence for the claim to survive summary judgment (Julie M. Joki v. Rogue Community College, et al., No. 12-35413, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22049).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on Oct. 29 agreed to stay an office worker's class wage-and-hour suit and compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of an arbitration agreement signed by the employee (Carla Brookins, et al. v. Superior Management Group, Inc., No. 13-2051, D. Kan.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154629).
PASADENA, Calif. - A grocery store chain's arbitration policy is unconscionable under California contract law and that state law is not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 28 (Zenia Chavarria, et al. v. Ralphs Grocery Company, No. 11-56673, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21959).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal magistrate judge on Oct. 25 granted preliminary approval of a $2 million settlement in a wage-and-hour class complaint filed by cafe employees who allege that they were denied overtime pay and meal and rest breaks (Nicola Covillo, et al. v. Specialtys Cafe, et al., No. 11-594, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153724).
NEWARK, N.J. - Health care providers seeking payment for services provided to plan participants failed to allege with specificity the assignments on which they asserted derivative standing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Oct. 24 (NJSR Surgical Center, L.L.C., et al. v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc., et al., No. 12-753, D. N.J.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153630).
CINCINNATI - A pension plan did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in terminating benefits and demanding repayment based on its finding that a former employee was not an eligible employee within the meaning of the plan, even though she was found to be an employee within the meaning of Michigan workers' compensation laws, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Oct. 24 (Helen Adams v. General Motors Company, No. 12-2084, 6th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21923).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Oct. 25 conditionally certified a class of waste and recycling truck drivers seeking overtime pay (Catalino Villegas, et al. v. Grace Disposal Systems, LLC d/b/a Royal Disposal & Recycling, et al., No. 13-320, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153382).
NEW YORK - A disability plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in classifying a participant's disability as a mental illness, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Oct. 23 (Robert Veryzer, Ph.D., v. American International Life Assurance Company of New York, No. 13-262, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21475).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California federal judge on Oct. 24 granted a supplemental motion for class certification in an antitrust suit accusing high-tech companies of conspiring to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility by entering into agreements not to compete for one another's employees (In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-2509, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153752).
SAN FRANCISCO - Participants in eligible individual account plans (EIAPs) sponsored by a drug manufacturer sufficiently alleged that the plans' fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duty of care imposed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by retaining company stock in the plans when the stock price was artificially inflated because the company was marketing risky "off label" uses of the drugs, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 23 in an opinion withdrawing its earlier opinion (Harris, et al. v. Amgen, Inc., et al., No. 10-56014, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21503).
SAN FRANCISCO - A split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 24 ruled that $125,000 is the maximum punitive damages award in a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sexual harassment suit where no compensatory damages were awarded and only $1 in nominal damages was awarded (State of Arizona, et al. v. ASARCO LLC, No. 11-17484, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21613).
RICHMOND, Va. - A former Virginia school district's maintenance director may proceed with his age bias claim because a statement that he wished to retire did not equal a submission of a retirement notice, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 22 (Alexander Harris v. Powhatan County School Board, No. 12-2091, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21393).
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 upheld the dismissal of a former grocery store employee's suit seeking to review the documentation related to payroll deductions that were to be funneled into an investment fund, finding both failure to state a plausible claim and an expiration of the statute of limitations (Markesha Monique Chase v. Chris L. Divine, et al., No. 13-5081, 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21402).