Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Loy v. Rehab Synergies
Plaintiff brought a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) suit against Rehab Synergies alleging violations of the federal overtime law. The district court, over Rehab Synergies’ objection, allowed the case to proceed as a collective action and a jury found Rehab Synergies liable. On appeal, Rehab Synergies contends that the district court abused its discretion by allowing the case to proceed as a collective action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that the district court applied the correct legal standards and that its factual findings were not clearly erroneous. The court explained that Plaintiffs’ adverse-inference argument does not suggest a “disparity” as a result of the case proceeding as a collective action; rather, the record shows that any “disparity” had other causes. Because the Plaintiffs were similarly situated, it would have been inconsistent with the FLSA to require 22 separate trials absent countervailing due process concerns that are simply not present here. View "Loy v. Rehab Synergies" on Justia Law
Patti Cahoo v. SAS Institute, Inc.
Out-of-work residents of Michigan may claim unemployment benefits if they meet certain eligibility criteria. The State’s Unemployment Insurance Agency oversees the benefits system. In 2011, with the help of private contractors, the Agency began to develop software to administer the unemployment system. The Agency sought to equip the software to auto-adjudicate as many parts of the claims process as possible. The Agency programmed software that used logic trees to help process cases and identify fraud. A claimant’s failure to return the fact-finding questionnaire, for example, led to a fraud finding, as did the claimant’s selection of certain multiple-choice responses. In August 2015, problems arose with some features of the system, prompting the Agency to turn off the auto-adjudication feature for fraud claims.Plaintiffs are four individuals who obtained unemployment benefits, which were terminated after the Agency flagged their claims for fraud. Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against three government contractors and nineteen Agency staffers, raising claims under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, 26 U.S.C. Sec. 6402(f), and Michigan tort law. In a previous proceeding, the court held that plaintiffs’ due process rights clearly existed because they had alleged a deprivation of their property interests without adequate notice and without an opportunity for a pre-deprivation hearing.At this stage, because the remaining plaintiffs have failed to show that these procedures violate any clearly established law, the supervisors of the unemployment insurance agency are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court also found that an intervening plaintiff was properly prevented from joining the case, based on her untimely filing. View "Patti Cahoo v. SAS Institute, Inc." on Justia Law
Lee Williams v. Tech Mahindra Americas Inc
Appellant, a fired employee, sued his former employer, alleging a pattern or practice of race discrimination against non-South Asians in violation of 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. The employee had previously attempted to join another class action against the company, but after that case was stayed, he filed this suit – years after his termination. The employer moved to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) as untimely. In response, the employee conceded that the relevant statutes of limitations had expired, and instead, he resorted to two forms of tolling: wrong-forum and American Pipe. The district court concluded that American Pipe tolling did not allow the employee to commence a successive class action, and the employee does not contest that ruling. But the district court dismissed the complaint without considering the applicability of wrong-forum tolling. The Third Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded the case for the district court to consider whether wrong-forum tolling applies and/or whether Appellant has plausibly pleaded a prima facie pattern-or-practice claim. The court explained a class plaintiff’s burden in making out a prima facie case of discrimination is different from that of an individual plaintiff “in that the former need not initially show discrimination against any particular present or prospective employee,” including himself. As a result, Appellant was not required to plead but for causation on an individual basis to avoid dismissal, given the availability of the pattern-or-practice method of proof at later stages of the case. View "Lee Williams v. Tech Mahindra Americas Inc" on Justia Law
Anthony Wright v. Waste Pro USA Inc, et al.
Plaintiff sued his former employer for allegedly underpaying him for overtime hours. Plaintiff worked in Florida, but he sued Waste Pro USA, Inc., and its subsidiary, Waste Pro of Florida, Inc., as one of several named plaintiffs in a purported collective action in the District of South Carolina. That court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against Waste Pro USA and Waste Pro of Florida for lack of personal jurisdiction, and it denied as moot his motion to sever his claims and transfer them to a district court in Florida. Instead of appealing or seeking other relief in the South Carolina court, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Southern District of Florida, alleging the same claims. The Florida district court granted summary judgment in favor of Waste Pro USA and Waste Pro of Florida because it determined that Plaintiff’s complaint was untimely. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiff had “alternate ways of preserving his cause of action short of invoking the doctrine of equitable tolling.” He could have filed a motion for reconsideration of or for relief from the dismissal order and argued that transfer was in the interest of justice. He also could have appealed the dismissal. “The right to appeal generally is regarded as an adequate legal remedy [that] forecloses equitable relief.” The court wrote that a diligent plaintiff would have filed a protective action or pursued a legal remedy in the South Carolina proceeding. Further, to the extent Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if equitable tolling does not apply in this case, that is the consequence of his own failure to pursue his remedies at law. Equity will not intervene in such circumstances. View "Anthony Wright v. Waste Pro USA Inc, et al." on Justia Law
North American Title Company v. Super. Ct.
In this labor dispute, Petitioner, the employer, filed a statement of disqualification seeking to remove the trial judge based on comments made during oral argument. However, Petitioner waited one year after the judge's comments to file the statement. The trial court determined that Petitioner waived the right to file a statement of disqualification.Finding the order striking Petitioner's statement of disqualification was flawed in several respects, the Fifth Appellate District vacated the trial court's order and provided the judge three days from the date the statement of disqualification is reinstated to respond before being deemed to have consented to disqualification by operation of time. View "North American Title Company v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Clark v. A&L Homecare & Training Center, LLC
The named plaintiffs, former home-health aides, sued A&L under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), claiming that A&L had paid them less than the correct overtime rate and under-reimbursed their expenses. Plaintiffs may bring such claims on behalf of other “similarly situated” employees. 29 U.S.C. 216(b). The plaintiffs sought to facilitate notice of their action to three groups of other employees who had worked for A&L. The court adopted a two-step procedure under which it would facilitate such notice following “conditional certification,” which required a “modest factual showing” that the other employees are “similarly situated” to the original plaintiffs. When merits discovery is complete, the court must grant “final certification” for the case to proceed as a collective action. The court applied that “fairly lenient” standard, and “conditionally certified” two groups for receiving notice. The court declined to facilitate notice to employees who had left A&L more than two years before or who had signed a “valid arbitration agreement” with A&L.On interlocutory appeal, the Sixth Circuit rejected the lenient standard, vacated the notice determination, and remanded for redetermination of that issue under the strong-likelihood standard. The court noted that the decision to send notice of an FLSA suit to other employees is often dispositive, in the sense of forcing a settlement. As a practical matter, it is not possible to conclusively make “similarly situated” determinations as to employees who are not present in the case. View "Clark v. A&L Homecare & Training Center, LLC" on Justia Law
Roberts v. Genting
On January 6, 2014, Defendant Genting New York LLC, d/b/a Resorts World Casino New York City ("Genting"), closed the Aqueduct Buffet (the "Buffet"), a restaurant located inside the Resorts World Casino (the "Casino") where Plaintiffs worked. Genting gave Plaintiffs no notice of the closure, which took effect the same day and resulted in 177 employees being laid off. The next week, Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Genting, alleging that its failure to provide notice violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "WARN Act"), and New York Labor Law Section 860 et seq. (the "New York WARN Act"). On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court denied Plaintiffs' motion and granted Genting's. On appeal, Plaintiffs argue that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Genting because, they claim, a reasonable jury could only conclude that the Buffet was either an operating unit or a single site of employment under the WARN Acts. The Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part. The court explained that Genting is not entitled to summary judgment because a reasonable finder of fact could conclude that the Buffet was an operating unit. Likewise, there is also evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the Buffet was not an operating unit. It will be for the finder of fact at trial to weigh the evidence comprising the "somewhat mixed" record in this case to answer the question. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Genting and in dismissing Plaintiffs' claims under the WARN Acts. View "Roberts v. Genting" on Justia Law
Naranjo v. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Inc.
Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Medical Center seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and alleging violations of the unfair competition law (UCL) and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) in connection with Medical Center’s emergency room billing practices. Briefly summarized, Plaintiff alleged Medical Center’s practice of charging him (and other similarly situated patients) an undisclosed “Evaluation and Management Services Fee” (EMS Fee) was an “unfair, deceptive, and unlawful practice.” The trial entered judgment in favor of Defendants. The Fifth Appellate District reversed. The court held that Plaintiff sought a declaration of the parties' rights and duties under the COA and their legal rights in connection with EMS Fee disclosures. An actual controversy is alleged and appears to exist. Plaintiff is entitled to seek declaratory relief in regard to each controversy stated. The court concluded he has adequately stated a cause of action for declaratory relief. The court wrote that on remand, the trial court will have the discretion to consider a motion by Plaintiff to amend the FAC to state a cause of action for breach of contract should Plaintiff choose to file one. View "Naranjo v. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Inc." on Justia Law
Posada v. Cultural Care, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting in part and denying in part Cultural Care, Inc.'s motion to dismiss this putative class action alleging violations of Plaintiffs' rights under various state and federal wage and hour laws, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiffs sued Cultural Care, a private company that places au pairs with host families in various states, alleging that the company qualified as an "employer" under the respective states' wage and hour laws and not only failed to pay Plaintiffs what they were owed but that Cultural Care violated the Family Leave Act and other laws. Cultural Care filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that it was shielded from immunity under the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity as set forth in Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Co., 309 U.S. 18, 20-22 (1940). The district court dismissed the state law deceptive trade practices claims under Connecticut and Washington law for lack of standing but otherwise denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Cultural Care was not entitled to protection under Yearsley at this stage of the litigation. View "Posada v. Cultural Care, Inc." on Justia Law
DRICKEY JACKSON V. AMZN
Plaintiff sought to represent a class of individuals, known as Amazon Flex drivers, claiming damages and injunctive relief for alleged privacy violations by Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”). Plaintiff contended that Amazon monitored and wiretapped the drivers’ conversations when they communicated during off hours in closed Facebook groups. The district court denied Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the dispute did not fall within the scope of the applicable arbitration clause in a 2016 Terms of Service Agreement (“2016 TOS”). Amazon appealed, arguing that the district court should have applied the broader arbitration clause in a 2019 Terms of Service Agreement (“2019 TOS”) and that even if the arbitration clause in the 2016 TOS applied, this dispute fell within its scope. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration. Under California law and principles of contract law, the burden is on Amazon, as the party seeking arbitration, to show that it provided notice of a new TOS and that there was mutual assent to the contractual agreement to arbitrate. The panel held that there was no evidence that the email allegedly sent to drivers adequately notified drivers of the update. The district court, therefore, correctly held that the arbitration provision in the 2016 TOS still governed the parties’ relationship. The panel concluded that because Amazon’s alleged misconduct existed independently of the contract and therefore fell outside the scope of the arbitration provision in the 2016 TOS, the district court correctly denied Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration. View "DRICKEY JACKSON V. AMZN" on Justia Law