NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 2 vacated dismissal of a human resources professional's claim of age bias brought against his former employer, finding that he brought allegations sufficient to state a claim; however, the appellate panel upheld dismissal of the appellant's gender and ethnicity bias and retaliation claims (Michael Franchino v. Terence Cardinal Cook Health Care Center, Inc., et al., No. 16-2383, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9756).
BOSTON - There was not substantial evidence in the record to support a finding by the National Labor Relations Board that the firing of a newly hired worker who engaged in a heated exchange with a union delegate during orientation training and questioned whether union membership was required was due to his protected conduct, a split First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 31 (Good Samaritan Medical Center v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 15-1347, 15-1412, National Labor Relations Board v. 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Nos. 15-1877, 15-1941, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9623).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 5 in three "church plan" class action lawsuits that pension plans for religious nonprofits, regardless of who established them, are exempt from the minimum funding and reporting and disclosure requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Maria Stapleton, et al., No. 16-74, Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al. v. Laurence Kaplan, No. 16-86, Dignity Health, et al. v. Starla Rollins, No. 16-258, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 30 affirmed that a beneficiary of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan was required to reimburse the plan for payments it made for her medical expenses in the event she received a third-party recovery, saying the summary plan description (SPD) contains a valid reimbursement provision (Donna Rhea v. Alan Ritchey Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan, et al., No. 16-41032, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9482).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Pursuant to an agreement between an educator, who is suing her former school district for employment retaliation, and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), an Ohio federal magistrate judge on May 26 entered a protective order governing how students' information may be submitted in response to the plaintiff's discovery subpoena (Jessica Irving v. Steve Carr, et al., No. 2:16-cv-00728, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81159).
CINCINNATI - A split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 25 upheld a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which found that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by requiring employees to sign off on an agreement that barred them from pursuing class action litigation or collective arbitration of work-related claims (National Labor Relations Board v. Alternative Entertainment, Inc., No. 16-1385, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9272).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on May 25 granted a motion to dismiss, with leave to amend, Sherman Act and Cartwright Act claims brought by a National Football League (NFL) cheerleader on behalf of a class of cheerleaders who, she alleged, have suffered from suppressed wages (Kelsey K., et al. v. NFL Enterprises, LLC, et al., No. 17-496, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81503).
MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis federal judge on May 25 granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act against the sponsor and fiduciaries of the Wells Fargo and Co. 401(k) Plan, saying allegations that they violated their duties of loyalty and prudence in investing plan assets by selecting as investments proprietary Wells Fargo target date funds (TDFs) fail because there is not a meaningful comparison with the market as a whole (John Meiners, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 16-3981, D. Minn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80606).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 26 denied a petition for rehearing en banc in a case in which a split panel on April 28 affirmed that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) is not liable for losses suffered by its 401(k) retirement employee benefit plan after its 1999 decision to divest Nabisco stock from the plan because a prudent fiduciary would have made the same divestment decision at the same time and in the same manner (Richard G. Tatum, et al. v. RJR Pension Investment Committee, et al., No. 16-1293, 4th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 30 reversed a Montana Supreme Court ruling and held that BNSF Railway Co., under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), is not subject to general personal jurisdiction in Montana - a state where it is not headquartered or incorporated - when it comes to injury claims that are unrelated to activity occurring in that state (BNSF Railway Company v. Kelli Tyrrell, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Brent T. Tyrrell, et al., No. 16-405, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Stating that a transgender man was terminated in retaliation for his posting on an employer-rating website that criticized the employer's purported discriminatory practices the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 24 filed a complaint on the employee's behalf in California federal court, alleging violation of federal anti-discrimination statutes (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. IXL Learning Inc., No. 3:17-cv-029979, N.D. Calif.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on May 23 granted preliminary approval of a $3 million settlement to be paid by an industrial service company to end claims that it improperly classified directional drillers as independent contractors and failed to pay overtime wages and meal and rest period premiums (Marc McCulloch, et al. v. Baker Hughes Inteq Drilling Fluids, Inc., et al., No. 16-157, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78367).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 24, considering a case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, vacated a trial court's order denying enforcement of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission administrative subpoena issued as part of the investigation of a gender bias claim because the district court based its ruling on an incorrect view of the legal standard governing relevance and remanded for further proceedings (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. McLane Company, Inc., No. 13-15126, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9027).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 22 affirmed a district court's finding that a disability claimant waived his rights to contest the termination of his disability benefits because the claimant signed a waiver of all rights, including his rights to contest the termination of his disability claim, as part of a settlement with his former employer for wrongful termination claims (Thomas A. Gonda v. The Permanente Medical Group Inc., et al., No. 15-16484, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8888).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on May 22 granted final approval of a $1.75 million settlement to be paid by Coach Inc. and Coach Services Inc. (collectively, Coach) to end multiple class wage-and-hour claims, including one brought under California's unfair competition law (UCL) (Mary Lou Ayala, et al. v. Coach, Inc., et al., No. 14-2031, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77652).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) new fiduciary duty rule regarding investment advice will take effect June 9, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a May 23 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal.
MILWAUKEE - Plaintiffs alleging that they were undercompensated by their health plan's systemic miscalculation of reasonable out-of-network charges may bring potentially duplicative claims while the court works out the injuries and appropriate remedies, a federal judge in Wisconsin held May 22 (Brenten George and Denise Valente-McGee v. CNH Health & Welfare Benefit Plan, et al., No. 16-1678, E.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77437).
NEW YORK - In a suit brought by two police officers who were directed to undergo treatment for alcoholism, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 22 certified a question to the New York Court of Appeals to decide whether sections of the New York City Administrative Code preclude an individual from bringing a disability bias claims solely based on a perception of untreated alcoholism (Kathleen Makinen, et al. v. City of New York, et al., No. 16-973, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8868).
NEW ORLEANS - An employer had no reasonable basis to remove to federal court counterclaims filed by its employer, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 22, vacating a trial court's order and remanding for reconsideration of attorney fees for the employee (Renegade Swish, L.L.C. v. Emily A. Wright, No. 16-11152, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8916).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on May 18 denied a motion to dismiss and granted a motion to transfer New York state overtime claims filed by pet store assistant managers to a California federal court where another case is pending alleging overtime claims under federal law (Deserie Michel, et al. v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc., et al., No. 16-1838, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75892).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on May 19 granted final approval of a $4.5 million settlement to be paid by a food production company to end current and former employees' claims that they were denied pay for certain activities, including donning and doffing (Luis Aguilar, et al. v. Wawona Frozen Foods, et al., No. 15-93, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76751).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 held that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not completely preempt an "out-of-network" health care provider's promissory estoppel claim against a health insurer where the provider did not receive a valid assignment for payment under the health care plan and received an independent promise from the insurer that he would be paid for certain medical services provided to the insured, saying that any legal duty the insurer has to reimburse the provider is independent and distinct from its obligations under the patient's plan (McCulloch Orthopaedic Surgical Services PLLC a/k/a Dr. Kenneth E. McCulloch v. Aetna Inc., et al., No. 15-2150, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8694).
PHILADELPHIA - A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 19 affirmed dismissal of a 61-year-old dentist's claims of age discrimination and violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, saying that she presented no direct evidence of age discrimination or intentional interference with her entitlement to ERISA-protected benefits (Mikele L. Boyle, D.M.D. v. Penn Dental Medicine, et al., No. 160-3621, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8799).
CINCINNATI - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 19 affirmed a Michigan federal judge's dismissal of denial of benefits and breach of fiduciary duty claims against Ford Motor Co. and its retirement plan, saying it was not arbitrary and capricious for Ford to set a period to elect lump-sum distribution of retirement benefits that paid a widow $463,254.78 less in survivor benefits (Jennifer Strang v. Ford Motor Company General Retirement Plan, et al., No. 16-2090, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8849).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 22 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by disability plan administrators claiming that a district court and the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to follow prior decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in disability insurance cases when determining that a claimant's benefits claim was "deemed denied" (Sun Life and Health Insurance Co., et al. v. Janet Solnin, No. 16-1238, U.S. Sup.).