BOSTON - An employee who was fired after testing positive for marijuana due to her lawful medical use of the drug may sue her former employer for handicap discrimination in violation of Massachusetts' medical marijuana act, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled July 17 (Cristina Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, et al., No. SJC-12226, Mass. Sup., 2017 Mass. LEXIS 504).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on July 14 certified an employee class suing over improper payroll records and for being paid by check for up to 40 hours per week and by cash, but at their regular hourly wage, for any time worked above 40 and granted a motion to amend the complaint and dismiss named plaintiff Vinicio Samaniego (Samaniego, et al. v. Titanium Construction Services, Inc., et al., No. 16-1113, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109727).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in a July 14 letter asked a Minnesota federal judge to stay litigation over its new "best interest contract" prohibited exemption (BIC exemption), saying that it is currently reviewing its rulemaking pursuant to President Donald J. Trump's directive (Thrivent Financial for Lutherans v. R. Alexander Acosta, et al., No. 0:16-cv-03289, D. Minn.).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 14 granted preliminary approval of a $1.6 million settlement to be paid by Vita-Mix Corp. and Kelly Services Inc. to end a class complaint by workers alleging that they were misclassified and denied overtime wages and benefits (Rainoldo Gooding, et al. v. Vita-Mix Corporation, et al., No. 16-3898, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109863).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge on July 13 granted approval of a $865,000 settlement to be paid by a behavioral health services company to end claims that it misclassified and underpaid its clinicians, consultants and therapists (Sarina Brown, et al. v. Progressions Behavioral Health Services, Inc., No. 16-6054, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108487).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 13 affirmed the dismissal of retired Booz Allen Hamilton officers' Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims because the plan through which Booz Allen distributed its stock to employees was not an employee pension benefit plan within the meaning of ERISA but vacated the judgment to the extent that it denied the motion by one plaintiff for leave to amend to add securities fraud claims (Bruce Pasternack, et al. v. Ralph W. Shrader, et al., No. 16-217, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12513).
BAY CITY, Mich. - A health care plan administrator owes a Michigan Indian tribe more than $8.4 million for violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by charging hidden administrative fees for the tribe's employee benefit program but is not liable for any alleged damages related to the tribe's separate health care plan for all of its members, even though some are also employees, a federal judge held July 14 (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 1:16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109366).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 14 affirmed in part and reversed in part a Washington federal judge's judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action, saying that an issue regarding hourly contributions to a pension plan had not been fully litigated (Richard Lehman, et al., v. Warner Nelson, et al., Nos. 15-35414, 15-35457, 15-35696, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12619).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Three nonemergency medical transportation (NMET) drivers filed a class complaint on July 13 seeking unpaid wages and alleging that they were paid flat rates that resulted in pay as little as $3.61 per hour for their work (Isaac Harris, et al. v. Medical Transportation Management, Inc., No. 17-1371, D. D.C.).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 12 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer's termination of long-term care disability benefits was reasonable based on the evidence properly considered by the insurer (David Carr v. John Hancock Life Insurance Company USA, No. 16-17134, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12404).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 10 agreed to rehear en banc a case involving the proper standard of judicial review of a denial of benefits under a health plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas Inc., No. 16-20174, 5th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - Two out of five temporary employees who allege that they were denied full-time employment due to their age presented sufficient evidence of bias after they were skipped over for positions despite sufficient rankings and may proceed with their claims, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 7 (Shawn Bulifant, et al. v. Delaware River & Bay Authority, No. 16-3899, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12157).
SAN FRANCISCO - Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States, ex rel Escobar, __ U.S. __,, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 7 reversed dismissal of a False Claims Act/retaliation claim alleging that drug maker Gilead Sciences Inc. used unapproved and contaminated ingredients in its HIV drugs (United States of America, ex rel. Jeffrey Campie, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., No. 15-16380, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12163).
NEW ORLEANS - The withdrawal of a job offer following a medical evaluation was not shown to be discrimination as the job applicant was unable to show that she was regarded as disabled, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 6, upholding a trial court's decision (Kris Arthur v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 16-10270, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12108).
ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 6 ruled that a Georgia federal judge properly granted death benefits to a widow and her conservator, saying that the decedent's son failed to show any reversible error in that decision (Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Devin Lanier Waddell, et al., No. 16-15321, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12027).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 6 affirmed a New York federal judge's ruling in favor of a class of about 16,000 former and current employees of Foot Locker Inc. seeking additional pension benefits, holding that classwide relief in the form of reformation does not require a showing of individualized detrimental reliance (Geoffrey Osberg, et al. v. Foot Locker Inc., et al., No. 15-3602, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12041).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 5 refused to remand class action claims for violation of California's Labor Code and unfair competition law (UCL) asserted by an employee against a health care center and payroll company, finding that the employer and payroll company showed that the amount in controversy will exceed $5 million (Maricela Reyes v. Carehouse Healthcare Center LLC, et al., No. 16-01159, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103764).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A split National Labor Relations Board issued two orders on July 6 declining to review regional directors' direction of election for two school bargaining units that include student employees (The New School and Student Employees at the New School-SENS UAW, No. 02-RC-143009, NLRB, Loyola University Chicago and Service Employees International Union Local 73, CLC/CTW, No. 13-RC-189548, NLRB).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 6 upheld awards by two arbitrators in favor of a union in disputes over bargaining unit work being performed by supervisors, finding that the awards don't prevent pending and future disputes regarding the same issue from being arbitrated (Unite Here Local 1 v. Hyatt Corporation, doing business as Hyatt Regency Chicago, No. 15-3668, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12101).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Time Warner Cable Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. violated the Americans with Disabilities when it fired an account executive less than two weeks after learning she had thyroid cancer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a complaint filed July 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., No. 17-1355, C.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on July 3 filed a lengthy appellee brief in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a consolidated lawsuit filed by investment and insurance industry trade groups against its fiduciary rule (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al., No. 17-10238, 5th Cir.).
DENVER - A staffing agency and business that terminated the temporary employment of a worker after she missed a significant amount of work following a cancer diagnosis were properly cleared in a case accusing them of disability discrimination, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 6 (Kristin Punt v. Kelly Services, et al., No. 16-1026, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12046).
ST. LOUIS - A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion in denying a claim for disability benefits because the
medical records and evidence support the insurer's denial, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 5
(Michelle E. Cooper v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 16-3429, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11933).
CINCINNATI - A disability plan administrator did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it terminated a claimant's
benefits based on the plan's substance abuse provision because the evidence supports the administrator's finding that
the claimant's disability was caused by the effects of opioid medications, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
said June 30 (Angela Blount v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Company, No. 16-6372, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS
RIVERSIDE, Calif.- After finding that the amount in controversy in a proposed class action filed by an employee, who alleges that
her employer failed to record and pay her hours worked, did not meet jurisdictional requirements, a California
federal judge on June 30 remanded the case to a state court for lack of jurisdiction (Kymberlee Arnold v. OSF
International Inc., d/b/a the Old Spaghetti Factory, et al., No. 17-897, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103006).