A second wave of putative class action lawsuits accusing universities of mismanaging their employee retirement plans by charging excessive fees, using multiple record keepers to operate their plans and handle administrative services and offering too many high-cost and poorly performing investment options were filed Aug. 10 and 11 (David Clark, et al. v. Duke University, et al., No. 1:16-cv-01044, M.D. N.C.; Loren L. Cassell, et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al., No. 3:16-cv-02086, M.D. Tenn.; Jennifer Sweda, et al. v. University of Pennsylvania, et al., No. 2:16-cv-04329; Margaret E. Kelly, et al. v. The Johns Hopkins University, No. 1:16-cv-02835, D. Md.).
LYNCHBURG, Va. - A Virginia federal judge on Aug. 10 granted a health insurer's motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that it unlawfully ignored requests to provide plan documents and breached co-fiduciary duties owed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because it is barred by res judicata (W.A. Griffin v. Areva Inc., No. 6:16-cv-00029, W.D. Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105887).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 affirmed that a union pension fund's denial of a former business representative's attempt to have board services payments included in his pension benefits was not arbitrary and capricious because the payments were not "salary payments" as defined by the pension plan (William Rabinak v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters Pension Fund, No. 15-1717, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14738).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 granted a cross-petition by the National Labor Relations Board to enforce a decision finding a unit of FedEx Freight Inc. drivers at one of its New Jersey facilities to be proper, despite FedEx's claim that the unit must also include dockworkers (National Labor Relations Board v. FedEx Freight, Inc., No. 15-2585, FedEx Freight, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 15-2712, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14593).
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University (NYU) and Yale University were sued Aug. 9 in separate putative class action lawsuits on behalf of more than 60,000 employees in their defined contribution retirement plans who claim that the universities, as plan sponsors, breached their duties of loyalty and prudence under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by causing plan participants to pay millions of dollars in unreasonable and excessive administrative fees.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it terminated union members' short-term disability benefits, encouraged an employee to circulate a decertification petition, interfered with union representatives access to the facility and decertified the union and refused to bargain with it or remit union dues; however, the employer waived its right to challenge the National Labor Relations Board remedy to reimburse the union with its own funds when it failed to raise the challenge before the NLRB, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 5 (Enterprise Leasing Company of Florida, doing business as Alamo Rent-A-Car v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 15-1200, D.C. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14376).
SAN FRANCISCO - The retaliation provision in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not preclude a First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution retaliation claim, a divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 5, reinstating claims by a former Arizona city employee who alleges that he was improperly terminated after agreeing to testify on behalf of another city employee suing for age discrimination (Ronnie D. Stilwell, et al. v. City of Williams, et al., No. 14-15540, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14430).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 5 announced that it will rehear en banc a case in which a panel previously found that 401(k) plan participants challenging the selection and retention of certain mutual funds forfeited their right to argue that their employer and its benefits plan failed to adequately monitor those investments because the argument was never raised before a California federal judge or in their initial appeal (Glenn Tibble, et al. v. Edison International, et al., No. 10-56406, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14413).
ST. LOUIS - In a case where a worker's overtime hours were mandatory, hours missed for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)-qualifying reasons must be deducted from the worker's FMLA leave entitlement; however, those overtime hours should be included when calculating the worker's total FMLA-leave allotment, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 4 (Lucas Hernandez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC, Nos. 15-2042 and 15-2428, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14348).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 2 partially denied a life insurance company's motion to dismiss a putative class action for benefits under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan, finding that a section of a state motor vehicle statute "regulates insurance" and is therefore saved from ERISA preemption (Eric Yost, et al. v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 3:16-cv-00079, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101202).
PHILADELPHIA - A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 2 affirmed the grant of summary judgment to General Motors Corp. in a lawsuit alleging that GM unlawfully circumvented the Employment Retirement Income Security Act and the Pension Protection Act with its denial of a woman's Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) because the claims are time-barred and without merit (Marva Jane Richardson-Roy v. Abigail Johnson, et al., No. 15-1914, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14051).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A group disability policy's three-year limitations provision is not unconstitutional or invalid under Minnesota law because Minnesota's statutes pertaining to the statute of limitations for filing suits do not apply to group policies, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Aug. 2 (Lora Walker v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 15-2570, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13988).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Aug. 3 that the owner of multiple Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Westchester County, N.Y., will pay $150,000 to former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Hillcrest Marshall Inc., d/b/a Dunkin' Donuts, No. 7:15-cv-07293, S.D. N.Y.).
BAY CITY, Mich. - An Indian tribe's claim that its health care plan administrator violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act fails because the tribe cannot establish that the administrator had a fiduciary duty under ERISA to ensure payment of Medicare-like rates (MLRs) for certain health services, a Michigan federal judge ruled Aug. 3 in dismissing the claim (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 16-cv-10317, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101610).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Quicken Loans Inc.'s rules barring mortgage bankers from disclosing a broad array of personnel information or criticizing the company without written consent violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) because "they unreasonably burden the employees' ability to discuss legitimate employment matters, to protest employer practices, and to organize," a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 29 (Quicken Loans, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 14-1231, D.C. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13778).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Because a disability claimant did not have a "meaningful opportunity' to submit additional evidence in support of her claim and because the plan did not explain what "objective medical findings" are, a district court erred in granting the plan's motion summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal said July 29 in reversing the district court's ruling (Barbara Scoles v. Intel Corporation Long Term Disability Benefit Plan, No. 13-36167, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13819).
BOSTON - A Massachusetts federal judge on July 29 allowed two separate but related putative class actions filed on behalf of Domino's pizza delivery drivers against their Domino's franchise employers to proceed, although limited to one class that signed an arbitration agreement and one class that did not (Atila Adolfo Tigges, et al. v. AM Pizza Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-10136, and Tylor Reeves, et al. v. PMLRA Pizza, et al., No. 1:16-cv-10474, D. Mass.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100366).
SAN FRANCISCO - Pursuant to California law, an arbitrator is the appropriate party to decide whether an arbitration agreement allows arbitration on a classwide basis, a divided California Supreme Court ruled July 28, holding that the question is a procedural matter, not a gateway question of arbitrability (Timothy Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive, Inc., et al., No. S220812, Calif. Sup.; 2016 Cal. LEXIS 6246).
FRESNO, Calif. - After previously finding that a food company employee's claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and Labor Code were cognizable, a California federal judge on Aug. 1 refused to dismiss the claims or, in the alternative, to grant interlocutory appellate certification (Jerrod Finder, on behalf of himself and class of others similarly situated v. Leprino Foods Co., et al., No. 1:13-CV-02059, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100417).
ST. LOUIS - A former employee of a freight shipping company who spent time loading trailers for interstate transportation falls within the Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption and is not owed overtime, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 28 (Glenn Williams, et al. v. Central Transport International, Inc., et al., No. 15-2201, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13718).
PASADENA, Calif. - In reversing a lower federal court's no coverage ruling, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found July 27 that a commercial general liability insurer has a duty to defend its insured against an underlying lawsuit because the insured may not have acted with the requisite intent to trigger the policy's "intentional acts" exclusion (Steven J. Berns v. Sentry Select Insurance Co., No. 14-55996, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13684).
ATLANTA - The non-waiver provision contained in the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is not in conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), a divided 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 29, upholding a trial court's enforcement of an arbitration agreement after striking two terms that violated USERRA (Rodney Bodine v. Cook's Pest Control Inc., et al., No. 15-13233, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13812).
CHICAGO - Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it's presently written does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 28, noting that while the panel does not condone such discrimination, it cannot enforce something that does not exist (Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, South Bend, No. 15-1720, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13746).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal judge on July 27 rejected an Indian tribe's bid to dismiss a petition filed by a labor union seeking to force the tribe to arbitrate a dispute over the firing of two casino employees (Unite Here International Union v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, No. 2:16-cv-00384, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98255).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Labor Department announced July 26 that hundreds of workers who work in the U.S. Senate cafeterias will receive more than $1 million in back wages after an investigation found that their employers failed to pay the required prevailing wages.