Westlaw Topical Highlights: Labor and Employment, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013

Labor and EmploymentTopical Highlights for Labor and Employment provides summaries of significant federal and state judicial decisions and legislative and administrative activities affecting labor and employment law. A Westlaw subscription is required to access the documents linked from this page.

Hours and Wages: Time spent by tradesmen driving FDNY utility vehicles between home and work locations was noncompensable FLSA commute time.  Colella v. City of New York, 2013 WL 6331725 (S.D.N.Y.) Time spent by Fire Department of New York (FDNY) building and maintenance division (BMD) tradesmen spent driving their equipment-filled FDNY utility vehicles between their homes and work locations constituted noncompensable commute time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Congress expressly exempted from the FLSA’s reach employees’ commuting activities when it enacted the Portal-to-Portal Act (PPA) and Employer Commuter Flexibility Act (ECFA). Transporting work equipment in their FDNY-issued vehicles did not represent a “principal activity” which the City and FDNY employed them to perform. While he tradesmen claimed they were forced to sign “Driver Election Forms,”the ECFA did not require that the agreement be entered into voluntarily by the employee. The defendants’ restrictions on the use of company vehicles did not affect their ability to claim ECFA exemption, the vans or box utility vehicles which the tradesmen drove were not “substantially different” from commuting vehicles, and the custom or practice of compensating trades personnel for driving their FDNY vehicles was inconsistent with the signed Driver Election Forms and would not be taken into account.  2013 WL 6331725. (The full-text of the rest of the Topical Highlights are available within Westlaw Next, subscription required).

Discrimination: Public employees were not required to pursue administrative remedies before filing suit circuit court under Human Rights Act.  Weimer v. Sanders 2013 WL 6050733 (W.Va.)

Workers’ Compensation: Evidence preponderated in favor of an employment relationship between nurse anesthetist and hospital.  Shatto v. McLeod Regional Medical Center 2013 WL 6654374 (S.C.)

Contracts: Auto manufacturer was not obligated to make $450 million payment to voluntary employees’ beneficiary association.  International Union, United Auto., Aerospace, and Agricultural Workers of America v. General Motors, LLC 2013 WL 6442707 (E.D.Mich.)

Wrongful Discharge: Jury reasonably declined to use employee’s wages at new job to mitigate his economic damages for wrongful termination.  Villacorta v. Cemex Cement, Inc. 2013 WL 6511732 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.)

Workers’ Compensation: Miner became totally disabled as result of pneumoconiosis when he quit his job because of his difficulty breathing.  Dalton v. Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs 2013 WL 6698514 (C.A.7)

Discrimination: EEOC’s alleged failure to conciliate was not affirmative defense to merits of employment discrimination suit.  E.E.O.C. v. Mach Min., LLC 2013 WL 6698515 (C.A.7 (Ill.))

Benefit Plans: De novo standard of review applied to ERISA plan participant’s claim challenging denial of long-term disability benefits.  Polnicky v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston 2013 WL 6071997 (N.D.Cal.)