Westlaw Topical Highlights: Labor and Employment, March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016

Labor and EmploymentWestlaw Topical Highlights for Intellectual Property provides summaries of significant federal court decisions and legislative and administrative activities affecting Intellectual Property law. A Westlaw subscription is required to access the documents linked from this page.

Unions: Validity under First Amendment of public-sector agency shop arrangements requiring fair-share fees for non-union members — Affirmed by Equally Divided Court  Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n, 2016 WL 1191684 (U.S.) The United States Supreme Court has affirmed, by an equally divided Court, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling rejecting California public school teachers’ claim that agency shop arrangements, whereby public employees, as a condition of continued employment, are required either to join a union that has become an exclusive bargaining representative or pay a fair-share service fee, violated the teachers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and association.

The teachers were seeking to have the Supreme Court overrule its decision in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U.S. 209, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 52 L.Ed.2d 261 (1977), which held that an agency shop provision of public teachers’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was valid under the First Amendment, insofar as service charges were used to finance expenditures by the union for collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes, rather than political or ideological activities that were not approved of by teachers who did not wish to join the union.

The Court’s one-sentence order, which has no precedential value outside the Ninth Circuit, marked the second time since the death of Justice Scalia on February 13, 2016, that the Court has affirmed a decision by an equally divided Court (Affirming Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n, 2014 WL 10076847 (C.A.9-Cal. 2014).)  2016 WL 1191684. (The full-text of the rest of the Topical Highlights is available within Westlaw Next, subscription required).      

Workers’ Compensation: Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) abused his discretion in excluding the opinion, or non-opinion, of expert medical advisor (EMA).  Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. v. Beekman 2016 WL 852421 (Fla.App. 1 Dist.)

Workers’ Compensation: Claimant’s wife, though not a medical professional, qualified as a “health care provider” for whose services claimant could be reimbursed.  Appeal of Northridge Environmental, LLC 2016 WL 1103909 (N.H.)

Transportation Workers: Court properly excluded railroad electrician’s expert’s testimony as inadmissible for lack of reliability in FELA action.  Smart v. BNSF Ry. Co. 2016 WL 852135 (Kan.App.)

Unfair Labor Practices: Employer did not interfere with union employee’s rights under NLRA when it warned him to stop submitting frivolous information requests.  Dove Energy, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Bd. 2016 WL 1104732 (C.A.D.C.)

Public Employment: Act reducing pension benefits to city employees was unconstitutional.  Jones v. Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Ben. Fund of Chicago 2016 WL 1137984 (Ill.)

Benefit Plans: Impartial umpire could not be appointed to resolve deadlock between employer and union trustees over issue that was not trust fund administration.  Employer Trustees of W. PA Teamsters v. Union Trustees of W. PA Teamsters 2016 WL 791965 (W.D.Pa.)

Workers’ Compensation: Implied indemnity claim against trustees of group self-insured trust was sufficiently alleged by Workers’ Compensation Board as governmental entity.  New York State Workers’ Compensation Bd. v. Compensation Risk Managers, LLC 2016 WL 636104 (N.Y.Sup.)

Wrongful Discharge: Employer may be liable for wrongful discharge of an employee for storing a firearm in a locked vehicle on company property.  Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. 2016 WL 1165448 (Miss.)

Arbitration: Arbitration agreement was not substantively unconscionable insofar as it allowed for temporary restraining order or preliminary injunctive relief.  Baltazar v. Forever 21, Inc. 2016 WL 1176599 (Cal.)

Unfair Labor Practices: Employer did not have reasonable basis for denying severance pay to union employees who lost their jobs following cancellation of government contract.  Hallmark Phoenix 3, L.L.C. v. National Labor Relations Bd. 2016 WL 1169068 (C.A.5)

Contracts: Former employee was preliminarily enjoined from doing similar work for competitor.  Delphi Automotive PLC v. Absmeier 2016 WL 787137 (E.D.Mich.)

Discrimination: Employee’s evidence of “cat’s paw,” or subordinate bias, raised triable issues of fact precluding summary judgment in employment discrimination case.  Mason v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 2015 WL 5544358 (E.D.Pa.)