PHILADELPHIA — A mandatory increase to retirement contributions of employees with 30 or more years of service if they chose not to retire within a set time period did not constitute age discrimination because the increase was not based on the employees’ age, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 19, affirming a trial court ruling against a class of employees and in favor of the government of the Virgin Islands (Marie Bryan v. Government of the Virgin Islands, Naomi Clarke Thomas v. Government of the Virgin Islands, No. 18-1941, 3rd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4816).
CAMDEN, N.J. — In an employee’s discrimination lawsuit against his employer, a New Jersey federal judge on Feb. 14 refused to dismiss a transmission-repair franchise company because a license agreement plausibly shows that it is a joint employer (Zevin Curtis Ward v. Cottman Transmission Systems LLC, et al., No. 18-2155, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24685).
CINCINNATI — A trial court erred when it ruled that lifetime health care benefits promised to Hoover Co. retirees in multiple collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) were unalterable as the obligation ended when the last CBA ended, a divided Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 15 (Joseph Zino, et al. v. Whirlpool Corp., et al., Nos. 17-3851/3860, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4648).
CHICAGO — A former nursing home employee who was fired after an incident with a resident prompted an investigation of allegations of resident abuse failed to show that it was her race that caused her termination, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 15 (Fran Watkins v. Riverside Medical Center, et al., No. 18-1411, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4664).
NEW ORLEANS — A split Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 15 withdrew its December opinion in an appeal of a railway worker’s disability bias and retaliation claims and substituted in its place a majority opinion reinstating the disability bias claims brought by the worker with Parkinson’s disease who was denied the opportunity to return to his job after co-workers raised concerns about his ability to safely perform his job, but explained in a footnote that it has not imposed a new requirement for assertion of the direct-threat defense (Flora Nall v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 17-20113, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4638).
NEW ORLEANS — A copper tube plant worker who was fired at the age of 69 after being disciplined four times failed to show that her employer “acted in some manner of bad faith” when it considered the facts that led to the firing, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 12, affirming a summary judgment ruling for the employer on a claim of age discrimination (Margaret Sue Inmon v. Mueller Copper Tube Company, Incorporated, No. 18-60145, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4223).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A state trial court properly allowed expert testimony for a man who sued the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) for racial discrimination and correctly excluded opinions by the department’s expert for lack of disclosure, a Missouri appeals court held Feb. 13 in affirming a jury’s $1 million damages and fee award to the accuser (Tarshish Jones v. Kansas City, Mo., No. WD81671, W.D. Mo. App., 2019 Mo. App. LEXIS 152).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Feb. 12 declined to dismiss federal class claims against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey alleging that it records medical exams of employees without their consent (Charlese Talarico, et al. v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, No. 18-909, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22766).
OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska federal judge on Feb. 5 certified a class of railroad workers suing over changes to their employer’s fitness-for-duty (FFD) program and ruled that a hybrid trial plan would be the best way to proceed (Quinton Harris, et al. v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, No. 16-381, D. Neb., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17917).
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An Arkansas federal judge on Jan. 31 certified a class of residents in a drug rehabilitation program seeking wages for work they were required to perform in exchange for a spot in the program, room and board, clothing and other necessities (Mark Fochtman, et al. v. DARP, Inc., et al., No. 18-5047, W.D. Ark., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16816).
SEATTLE — A Washington hospital’s participation in litigation by a proposed class of nurses alleging that they were denied breaks was a waiver of its right to invoke arbitration, a Washington appellate panel ruled Feb. 11 (Jeoung Lee, et al. v. Evergreen Hospital Medical Center, No. 77894-1-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 341).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A divided Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 11 denied a petition for rehearing en banc and a petition for panel rehearing, leaving in place a Nov. 13 ruling by a divided panel holding that an employer’s revocation of a conditional job offer following the applicant’s request for religious accommodation was a matter to be resolved under a disparate treatment claim and not a retaliation one (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. North Memorial Health Care, No. 17-2926, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4112).
NEWARK, N.J. — A complaint alleging that a class of truck drivers was misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees and seeking to recover wages for those workers belongs in state court, not federal court, a New Jersey federal judge ruled Feb. 11, adopting a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation (Pedro Roberts, et al. v. Tribeca Automotive, et al., No. 18-8330, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21208).
MIAMI — A Florida federal judge on Feb. 8 granted a widow’s request to stay a lawsuit filed in relation to her husband’s death on a cruise ship pending the outcome of an appeal of an arbitration award in a Philippine court, holding that the outcome of that case will determine whether the cruise line’s motion to compel another arbitration should be granted (Ben Buenaventura v. NCL [Bahamas] Ltd., et al., No. 1:18-cv-22922, S.D. Fla.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 6 withdrew a June 2018 opinion in an appeal by a nurse seeking to hold her employer liable for a hostile work environment created by a patient and issued a new opinion holding that the evidence of persistent physical harassment by the patient was sufficient to allow a jury to decide the matter (Kymberli Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, L.L.C., No. 17-60072, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3732).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 22 ruled 2-1 to reject a collateral estoppel argument by the National Labor Relations Board and affirm a finding that an employer, ordered by the NLRB to provide back pay after firing his employees to avoid unionization, was permitted to challenge the issue of malice when seeking to discharge that debt in his bankruptcy filing (In Re: Edward L. Calvert, No. 17-1895, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 2012).
PHILADELPHIA — New Jersey’s test for determining employment status for the purposes of state wage law claims is not preempted by the Federal Aviation Authorization Administration Act of 1994 (FAAAA) because its effects on prices, routes or services related to the transportation of property “is tenuous and insignificant,” a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 29 (Ever Bedoya, et al. v. American Eagle Express Inc., No. 18-1641, 3rd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3155).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 6 affirmed a trial court’s ruling for an employer in a lawsuit by a job candidate alleging transgender discrimination, finding that the employer offered a non-discriminatory reason for revoking a job offer, but the majority noted that the district court erred when it stated that the Fifth Circuit has not yet addressed transgender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Nicole C. Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Company, No. 18-20251, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3731).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are no punitive damages for unseaworthiness claims brought under general maritime law, a vessel owner and operator told the U.S. Supreme Court in its Jan. 22 petitioner brief (The Dutra Group v. Christopher Batterton, No. 18-266, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Labor Relations Board majority on Feb. 4 granted a union’s request for review in part in a matter involving a charter school and invited briefs on whether it should decline jurisdiction over charter schools as a class under Section 14(c)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (KIPP Academy Charter School and Nicole Mangiere, et al. and United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 AFT, AFL-CIO, No. 02-RD-191760, NLRB).