Employment Law Decisions: Decided

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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:

No Pay OK for Amazon Security Screenings: Supreme Court

Workers at Amazon's warehouses won't have to be paid for time spent in security screenings thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued today.

The High Court unanimously determined that while workers may spend as long as 25 minutes in security screenings after they clock out, the process was not "integral and indispensible" to the workers' jobs. The New York Times reports that this decision could affect more than 400,000 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Amazon and other companies.

What are the nuts and bolts of this Amazon ruling?

L.A. Schools Settlement: $140M to Students Who Were Fed Semen

The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay nearly $140 million to settle sex abuse lawsuits linked to ex-elementary school teacher and convicted child molester Mark Berndt.

Berndt, 63, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2013 after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts upon a child, Reuters reports. Berndt was arrested after an investigation by police uncovered evidence that he'd forced his students to play a "tasting game" in which they were fed cookies tainted with Berndt's semen.

What are the details behind this settlement?

Chickie's & Pete's Settlements: $8.5M for Wage, Tip Violations

Chickie's & Pete's, a popular sports bar chain in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has agreed to pay a total of $8.5 million to settle both a Labor Department investigation and a lawsuit brought by current and former employees alleging wage and labor law violations.

The Philadelphia-based chain is set to pay about $6.8 million in back wages and damages to more than 1,100 current and former workers to resolve the Labor Department probe, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The company will pay an additional $1.68 million to settle a separate lawsuit initiated by another 90 past and present employees.

The Labor Department had alleged that the sports bar underpaid its servers under federal law and illegally took a percentage of their tips.