Employment Law Decisions: Decided

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DreamWorks is one of several large animation studios sued in one of the largest class action lawsuits ever brought against animation studios by employees. DreamWorks has offered to settle their portion of liability in the case by putting $50 million into the settlement's common fund. DreamWorks, along with Disney, Pixar, LucasFilm, Sony, Blue Sky, and others were sued for allegedly agreeing to wage-fix and not poach each other's animators and employees.

The settlement still needs to be approved. However, prior settlements from Sony and Blue Sky for much smaller amounts have already been approved, so it seems likely that DreamWorks' offer will be as well. Unlike most settlements, class action settlements must be approved by a judge in order to protect the interests of the class members. Shockingly, the lawsuit seems to be a result of Steve Jobs' time as the CEO of Pixar.

An important ruling out of Chicago's Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week analogized cat and dog ownership to the Uber versus taxi regulation debate. The case involved the taxi industry's challenge to the city of Chicago's decision to regulate ride sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, differently than taxi cab companies.

The circuit court affirmed the decision of the lower court, agreeing that the city is free to regulate the two industries differently.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that 21st Century Fox (Fox News) will pay Gretchen Carlson $20,000,000 in settlement for the sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered at the hands of Roger Ailes. While the large dollar amount Fox paid may shock many, legal professionals are more shocked about the public apology 21st Century Fox made Tuesday morning. Also, CNN reported other victims of Ailes agreed to settle their claims.

It is exceedingly rare that a single plaintiff sexual harassment suit gets an eight figure settlement, and even rarer to see a defendant issue a public apology to the plaintiff. While Ailes denies the allegations, an award that large speaks volumes, and the apology amplifies that a hundred fold.

Uber might have just dodged the biggest bullet aimed at its disruptive, ride-sharing business model. In a massive settlement announced last night, Uber will pay up to $100 million to drivers who sued the company in an effort to be considered employees. In return, drivers agreed to remain independent contractors.

While this may seem like a distinction in name only, the legal status of Uber's workforce has an enormous numerical impact on Uber's bottom line.

Uber claims its background checks on potential drivers are the most comprehensive in the industry. Turns out that's not exactly true. And it's gonna cost ridesharing company $10 million.

This week Uber settled a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and Los Angeles prosecutors over the quality of its criminal screening for drivers, and may have to pay more if it doesn't institute new background check procedures. So what was Uber doing, and what does it need to do now?

Supreme Court Split on Public Union Fee Case

The Supreme Court this week was split on a challenge by California's non-unionized public school teachers who oppose paying union fees for negotiation representation, saying it is a violation of their free speech rights. An evenly divided court means the lower appellate court's decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will stand.

The ruling comes just after Justice Antonin Scalia's death and there was an expectation, after oral arguments last year, that the conservative justice would side with those who oppose union contributions. The outcome is considered a big win for organized labor, according to The Washington Post. But the case may be heard again when Justice Scalia is replaced ... however long that takes.

Bikram Choudhury, founder of his eponymous hot yoga empire, has been ordered to pay a former employee $7.4 million for retaliation, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment. Minakshi "Miki" Jafa-Bodden sued Choudhury, claiming she was fired for refusing to cover up an investigation into another woman's rape allegation against the guru.

The once ubiquitous Bikram yoga brand has been rocked by controversy in recent years. Numerous profiles have highlighted claims of harassment and abuse. And Jafa-Bodden's was just one of six lawsuits against Choudhury, each accusing him of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The U.S. Supreme Court revived a UPS employee's claim that the company discriminated against her while she was pregnant. Peggy Young contends UPS refused to lighten her work load during her pregnancy, and sued the company under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Lower courts had dismissed the case, but the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to send the case back for a full hearing on the merits.

Home Health Care Workers' Wage Rules Overturned by Federal Judge

A federal judge has overturned the Labor Department's rules providing overtime and minimum-wage protection for home health care workers.

The rules were announced in 2011 by President Obama, reports The Associated Press. Federal employment regulations had previously exempted home health care workers from wage and overtime requirements for other types of employees. The new rules were due to take effect January 1, but had been delayed pending the judge's ruling.

What led to the judge's decision in this case?

2014 in Review: The 10 Most Popular 'Decided' Blog Posts

This has been a big year for landmark decisions and settlements, and FindLaw's Decided was there to cover all of 2014's big legal moments.

There were Supreme Court decisions and denials, companies settling over less than honest business practices, and even a reminder on how social media can screw up a perfectly good legal agreement.

Here's to 2014, and here's the Top 10 cases you loved most from this year: