Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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Appellee worked at a Xerox Business Services, LLC (“XBS”) call center and was compensated according to a proprietary system of differential pay rates known as Achievement Based Compensation (“ABC”). Section 4 of the 2002 Dispute Resolution Plan ("DRP") required XBS and its agents to submit “all disputes” to binding arbitration for final and exclusive resolution. Appellee never signed the 2002 DRP. XBS issued an updated DRP (“2012 DRP”). XBS filed a motion to compel individual arbitration by 2,927 class members who had signed the 2002 DRP. The district court found that XBS had waived its right to compel arbitration.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying XBS's motion to compel. The panel noted that following Morgan v. Sundance, 142 S. Ct. 1708 (2022), the Ninth Circuit’s test for waiver of the right to compel arbitration consists of two elements: (1) knowledge of an existing right to compel arbitration; and (2) intentional acts inconsistent with that existing right. XBS challenged both prongs of the test. The panel held that XBS was correct that the district court could not compel nonparties to the case to arbitrate until after a class had been certified and the notice and opt-out period were complete. However, XBS failed to appreciate that waiver was a unilateral concept. The panel held that further undercutting XBS’s position was its own actions throughout the course of the litigation, in which XBS raised the 2012 DRP as to putative class members before the class had been certified and before it had the ability to move to enforce that agreement against them. View "TIFFANY HILL V. XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law

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USERRA Section 4316(b)(1) requires employers to provide employees who take military leave with the same non-seniority rights and benefits as their colleagues who take comparable non-military leaves. Plaintiff, a commercial airline pilot and military reservist, filed a class action brought under USERRA. Plaintiff alleged that because Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air Industries (collectively, the “Airlines”) provide paid leave for non-military leaves, including jury duty, bereavement, and sick leave, the Airlines are also required to pay pilots during short-term military leaves. The district court disagreed, granting summary judgment to the Airlines and concluding as a matter of law that military leave is not comparable to any other form of leave offered by the Airlines.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The panel held that the district court erred in concluding that no reasonable jury could find military leave comparable to non-military leave. In reaching this conclusion, the district court erred by comparing all military leaves, rather than just the short-term military leaves at issue here, with the comparator non-military leaves. The district court also erred by disregarding factual disputes about each of the three factors in the comparability analysis: duration, purpose, and control. The panel held that because factual disputes existed, comparability was an issue for the jury.   The panel, therefore, reversed and remanded. It instructed that on remand, the district court should consider in the first instance the issue of whether “pay during leave” was a standalone benefit that the airlines provided under their collective bargaining agreements to any employee on leave. View "CASEY CLARKSON V. ALASKA AIRLINES, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellants Jennifer Bitner and Evelina Herrera were employed as licensed vocational nurses by defendant-respondent California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). They filed a class action suit against CDCR alleging that: (1) while assigned to duties that included one-on-one suicide monitoring, they were subjected to acts of sexual harassment by prison inmates; and (2) CDCR failed to prevent or remedy the situation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code section 12940 et seq. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of CDCR on the ground that it was entitled to statutory immunity under section 844.6, which generally provided that “a public entity is not liable for . . . [a]n injury proximately caused by any prisoner.” Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that, as a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeal should interpret section 844.6 to include an exception for claims brought pursuant to FEHA. Plaintiffs also argued that, even if claims under FEHA were not exempt from the immunity granted in section 844.6, the evidence presented on summary judgment did not establish that their injuries were “ ‘proximately caused’ ” by prisoners. The Court of Appeal disagreed on both points and affirmed the judgment. View "Bitner v. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a South Asian-American woman, began working for Bloomberg’s Dubai news bureau as a Persian Gulf economy and government reporter. Plaintiff informed Bloomberg that she wished to transfer to its New York or Washington, D.C. bureaus because of her husband’s job location. Plaintiff ultimately obtained a position at Bloomberg L.P. (“Bloomberg”) in the Washington, D.C. bureau reporting on cybersecurity.   When Plaintiff subsequently asked why she had not been considered for the U.N. position, her team leader responded that Plaintiff had never said that she wanted to cover foreign policy; he also advised her that she had to advocate for herself if she wanted to advance at Bloomberg. On behalf of herself and other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiff – now a resident of California – filed a class-action lawsuit in New York state court against Bloomberg and several of its employees; shortly thereafter, she amended her complaint. Thereafter, Bloomberg moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). The district court dismissed all of Plaintiff’s claims against Bloomberg, including her NYCHRL and NYSHRL claims based on Bloomberg’s failure to promote her to positions in New York.   The Second Circuit concluded that the issue implicates a host of important state interests. Thus it reversed the district court’s decision and certified the following question: whether a nonresident plaintiff not yet employed in New York City or State satisfies the impact requirement of the New York City Human Rights Law (the “NYCHRL”) or the New York State Human Rights Law (the “NYSHRL”) if the plaintiff pleads and later proves that an employer deprived the plaintiff of a New York City- or State-based job opportunity on discriminatory grounds. View "Syeed v. Bloomberg L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, six individuals employed by the County of Imperial, and the three unions representing them (the Imperial County Sheriff’s Association (ICSA), the Imperial County Firefighter’s Association (ICFA), and the Imperial County Probation and Corrections Peace Officers’ Association (PCPOA)), brought a class action lawsuit against the County of Imperial, the Imperial County Employees’ Retirement System, and the System’s Board alleging that the defendants were systematically miscalculating employee pension contributions. After two years of failed mediation, plaintiffs moved for class certification under Code of Civil Procedure section 382. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the conflicting interests of two primary groups of employees, those hired before the effective date of the Public Employee Pension Reform Act and those hired after, precluded the court from certifying a class. The court found that because the employees hired before PEPRA took effect were entitled to an enhanced pension benefit unavailable to those hired after, the two groups’ interests were antagonistic and the community of interest among the proposed class members required for certification could not be met. The trial court also concluded the proposed class representatives had failed to show they could adequately represent the class. On appeal, plaintiffs contended insufficient evidence supported the trial court’s finding that there was an inherent conflict among the class members that precluded class certification and that the court’s legal reasoning on this factor was flawed. The plaintiffs also argued they should have been given an opportunity to show they could adequately represent the interests of the class. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court’s reasoning concerning the community of interest among the proposed class, and agreed with plaintiffs they should be provided an opportunity to demonstrate their adequacy. Accordingly, the order denying class certification was reversed and the matter remanded to the trial court with directions to allow the proposed class representatives to file supplemental declarations addressing their adequacy to serve in this role. Thereafter, if the trial court approves of the class representatives, the court was directed to grant plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, including the creation of the subclasses identified by the Court. View "Imperial County Sheriff's Assn. v. County of Imperial" on Justia Law

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts with CoreCivic to incarcerate detained immigrants in 24 facilities across 11 states. Plaintiffs, detained solely due to their immigration status and neither charged with, nor convicted of, any crime, alleged that the overseers of their private detention facilities forced them to perform labor against their will and without adequate compensation in violation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“California TVPA”), various provisions of the California Labor Code, and other state laws.   The Ninth Circuit filed (1) an order denying a petition for panel rehearing and, on behalf of the court, a petition for rehearing en banc; and (2) an opinion (a) amending and superceding the panel’s original opinion and (b) affirming the district court’s order certifying three classes. The panel held that the district court properly exercised its discretion in certifying a California Labor Law Class, a California Forced Labor Class, and a National Forced Labor Class. The panel held that, as to the California Forced Labor Class, Plaintiffs submitted sufficient proof of a classwide policy of forced labor to establish commonality. The panel agreed with the district court that narrowing the California Forced Labor Class based on the California TVPA’s statute of limitations was not required at the class certification stage. Further, the panel held that, as to the National Forced Labor Class, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs presented significant proof of a classwide policy of forced labor and that common questions predominated over individual ones. View "SYLVESTER OWINO, ET AL V. CORECIVIC, INC." on Justia Law

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Petitioner-appellant Sharlene Allen was a former employee of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC). After SDCCC terminated Allen, she filed a class action lawsuit against SDCCC alleging various violations of the California Labor Code. The trial court largely sustained SDCCC’s demurrer to the complaint on the grounds that the corporation was exempt from liability as a government entity. The court, however, left intact one claim for untimely payment of final wages under Labor Code sections 201, 202, and 203,1 and derivative claims under the Unfair Competition Law and the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Allen then moved for class certification for her surviving causes of action. The trial court denied the motion based on Allen’s concession that her claim for untimely final payment was not viable because it was derivative of the other claims dismissed at the demurrer stage. Allen appealed the denial of the motion for class certification, which she claimed was the "death knell" of her class claims and thus, the lawsuit. She argued the trial court’s ruling on the demurrer was incorrect because SDCCC did not establish as a matter of law that it was exempt from liability. In response, SDCCC argued Allen’s appeal should have been dismissed as taken from a nonappealable order. Alternatively, SDCCC contended the trial court’s order sustaining its demurrer was correct, and the subsequent denial of class certification should be affirmed. The Court of Appeal rejected SDCCC’s assertion that the order was not appealable. However, the Court agreed that class certification was properly denied by the trial court and affirmed the order. View "Allen v. San Diego Convention Center Corp., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that couriers who deliver goods from local restaurants and retailers are transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce such that they are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs, who worked as couriers for Defendants making deliveries in the greater Boston area, filed suit in a Massachusetts state court on their own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated couriers, alleging that Defendant had misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees and that they were entitled to employee benefits and protections under Massachusetts law. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs were not exempt from the FAA, compelled arbitration of the dispute, and dismissed the lawsuit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in compelling arbitration and dismissing the underlying complaint. View "Immediato v. Postmates, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court entering summary judgment for Employer and dismissing Employee's class action claiming that Employer violated the Missouri Prevailing Wage Act by failing to pay its employees the prevailing wage for work performed on properties in Kansas City, Missouri, holding that a genuine dispute existed, precluding summary judgment.Employee, individually and on behalf of a class of all similarly situated, filed a petition alleging that Employer violated the State's prevailing wage act and minimum wage law. The circuit court sustained Employer's motion for summary judgment as to all claims, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record supported two plausible but contrary inferences as to whether Employee was employed "on behalf of any public body engaged in the construction of public works" within the meaning of the Prevailing Wage Act; and (2) therefore, a genuine dispute of material fact existed, barring summary judgment. View "Brockington v. New Horizons Enterprises, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought unpaid overtime wages for the period between January 1, 2015, and February 1, 2016, during which a Department of Labor rule entitling homecare workers to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was temporarily vacated. The district court conditionally certified a putative collective consisting of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers who worked overtime during this period.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s orders granting summary judgment in favor of Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and denying partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs. Reversing in part and remanding, the panel held that the County was a joint employer, along with care recipients, of IHSS providers, and thus could be liable under the FLSA for failing to pay overtime compensation.   The panel held that, notwithstanding differences between the IHSS program operating in Los Angeles County today and the programs analyzed in Bonnette, the County was a joint employer of Plaintiffs, in light of the economic and structural control it exercised over the employment relationship. The panel directed the district court, on remand, to grant partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs on the issue of whether the County was a joint employer of IHSS providers.   Further, the panel held that the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment to the County on the issue of willfulness and denying partial summary judgment to plaintiffs on the issue of liquidated damages. The panel held that a determination of willfulness and the assessment of liquidated damages are reserved for the most recalcitrant violators. View "TRINA RAY, ET AL V. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT, ET AL" on Justia Law