Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment 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
In re: Valerie White
Plaintiffs sought class certification to pursue various claims against the Hilton Hotels Retirement Plan (“Hilton Plan”) for what they say are unlawfully denied vested retirement benefits. The district court ultimately denied certification on the ground that Plaintiffs had proposed an “impermissibly ‘fail-safe’” class—that is, a class definition for which membership can only be ascertained through “a determination of the merits of the case.” The DC Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s decision, finding that the district court, in this case, bypassed Rule 23’s requirements and based its denial of class certification entirely on the class’s “fail-safe” character. The court explained that the textual requirements of Rule 23 are fully capable of guarding against unwise uses of the class action mechanism. So the court rejected a rule against “fail-safe” classes as a freestanding bar to class certification ungrounded in Rule 23’s prescribed criteria. Instead, district courts should rely on the carefully calibrated requirements in Rule 23 to guide their class certification decisions and the authority the Rule gives them to deal with curable misarticulations of a proposed class definition. View "In re: Valerie White" on Justia Law
Seifu v. Lyft, Inc.
Plaintiff, a former driver for Defendant Lyft, Inc., filed suit against Lyft under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). He alleged that Lyft misclassified him and other drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, thereby violating multiple provisions of the Labor Code. Lyft moved to compel arbitration based on the arbitration provision in the “Terms of Service” (TOS) that it required its drivers to accept. The trial court denied the motion, finding the PAGA waiver in the arbitration provision unenforceable under then-controlling California law. Lyft appealed, and the Second Appellate District affirmed the denial of Lyft’s motion to compel arbitration. Lyft petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. The Court granted Lyft’s petition and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022). The Second Appellate District reversed in part and affirmed in part the trial court’s order. The court remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to (1) enter an order compelling Plaintiff to arbitrate his individual PAGA claim and (2) conduct further proceedings regarding Plaintiff’s non-individual claims. The court explained that it is not bound by the analysis of PAGA standing set forth in Viking River. PAGA standing is a matter of state law that must be decided by California courts. The court explained that until it has guidance from the California Supreme Court, its review of PAGA and relevant state decisional authority leads the court to conclude that a plaintiff is not stripped of standing to pursue non-individual PAGA claims simply because their individual PAGA claim is compelled to arbitration. View "Seifu v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law
Matthew Nagel v. United Food and Com. Workers
Plaintiff opposed a new collective-bargaining agreement that passed by a 119-vote margin. Plaintiff sued the union for breach of its duty of fair representation and a violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. At their core, these claims are about whether the union hoodwinked members into ratifying the new collective-bargaining agreement by concealing what would happen to the 30-and-out benefit. The district court dismissed the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act claim, denied Plaintiff’s motion for class certification, and granted summary judgment to the union on the fair-representation claim. On appeal, Plaintiff alleged that the union concealed key information, but only nine members said it would have made a difference. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to provide other evidence that the outcome of the vote would have changed. The court reasoned that the ratification vote was overwhelmingly in favor: 228 to 109, a 119-vote margin. Plaintiff offers only nine members who would have voted “no” if they had known about the elimination of the 30-and-out benefit. Even assuming each would have voted the way he thinks, the agreement still would have passed by a wide margin. The court wrote that no reasonable jury could conclude that the union’s alleged bad-faith conduct was the but-for cause of the union’s ratification of the collective-bargaining agreement. View "Matthew Nagel v. United Food and Com. Workers" on Justia Law
McCutcheon v. Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Plaintiffs brought a class action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), arguing that Defendant Colgate-Palmolive Co. miscalculated residual annuities based on an erroneous interpretation of its retirement income plan and improperly used a pre-retirement mortality discount to calculate residual annuities, thereby working an impermissible forfeiture of benefits under ERISA. The district court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs on these claims. Colgate appealed that order and the final judgment of the district court. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that the text of the RAA is unambiguous and requires Colgate to calculate a member's residual annuity by subtracting the AE of LS from that member's winning annuity under Appendix C Section 2(b). Further, the court wrote that Colgate's "same-benefit" argument does not disturb our conclusion that the RAA's language is unambiguous. Because "unambiguous language in an ERISA plan must be interpreted and enforced in accordance with its plain meaning," the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the class Plaintiffs as to Error 1. View "McCutcheon v. Colgate-Palmolive Co." on Justia Law