9th Circuit Employment Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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The Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court ruling granting summary judgment to Sears in a California disability law dispute. The district court had ruled that employee presented no triable claims because the evidence he offered was all self-serving.

Of course it was, the Ninth ruled when reversing. Self-serving evidence, consisting here of uncorroborated recollections, may not be of much weight to a trier of fact, but it cannot be rejected outright at the summary judgment stage.

If you're an ERISA lawyer or a history nerd, the Ninth Circuit has a case just for you.

Administrators of a California firefighters' pension plan breached their trust duty when they paid their own fees and expenses from the plan's assets, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. That's some classic self-dealing, according to the court, and a breach of the administrators' fiduciary duty.

Customer service workers at car dealerships aren't exempt from the FLSA's overtime protections, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. The court's unanimous holding revived a lawsuit seeking unpaid overtime brought by four "service advisers" at a Mercedes Benz dealership in California.

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum pay and overtime requirements, but exempts many workers, such as managers and commissioned sales employees. The Ninth Circuit's ruling that dealership customer service workers don't fall under one of the Act's exceptions stands in opposition to holdings by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits, creating a new FLSA circuit split.

Did Mass Murderers File a Motion in the Tech Anti-Poaching Suit?

It's Friday, which means my ability to take anything seriously is absolutely nearing it end. I'm running on fumes here.

Fortunately, eight federal inmates, including three infamous convicted murderers, have supposedly filed a handwritten motion to intervene in the Silicon Valley anti-poaching class action lawsuit. You know, the one where CEOs of major tech companies sent emails back-and-forth, agreeing not to poach each other's staff? The one that reached a settlement agreement for pennies, despite the smoking gun evidence?

The settlement is currently sitting on U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh's desk. Sitting next to it is this handwritten motion -- and in the trashcan nearby, there's another motion that was filed using a California attorney's stolen identity.

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Can't Find a Job? Maybe Spokeo's Misinformation Is to Blame

An unemployed job hunter can proceed with his lawsuit against Spokeo claiming violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

For those of you unfamiliar Spokeo: It's a creepily comprehensive data aggregating website with the slogan, "not your grandmother's phonebook." According to Forbes, it's also notoriously inaccurate. Go ahead, check yourself out -- just don't be surprised if you see yourself listed as the only child of a distant cousin whom you haven't seen in years.

In his suit, Thomas Robins claims the website's inaccurate information about him hurt his job prospects. For the courts, his harm raised classic standing issues.

3rd Time Not a Charm for Abercrombie; Loses 3rd Hijab Case

Umme-Hani Khan worked at Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister-branded store in San Mateo, California, for approximately five months. She was an "impact associate," which meant her primary duties were in the stockroom. According to a press release by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she was initially asked to match the colors of her hijab, or headscarf, to Hollister colors, which she did. In February 2010, however, she was fired for violating the company's "Look Policy," after the company changed course and ordered her to stop wearing her religiously required headscarf, which she refused to do.

As District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers succinctly stated, "It is undisputed that Khan was terminated 'for non-compliance with the company's Look Policy.' Khan's only violation of the Look Policy was the headscarf."

Important Decision for Free Speech in Academia

He may get nothing out of this case, but former Washington State University tenured professor David Demers' wrangling with the school over free speech and retaliation has set a legal precedent that could protect similarly situated professors, and lead to damages, for future acts that are hostile to protected speech.

Demers circulated a controversial proposal to reform the university's communications department, and wrote a book that was spoke critically of the university. He claims that, in retaliation for his speech, his evaluations plummeted, and his standing at the university, and reputation as an academic, suffered as a result.

The Ninth Circuit, while extending qualified immunity to WSU because of the lack of clarity in the law, held that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos doesn't apply in academia, and that professors' speech on matters of public concern is protected under Pickering v. Board of Education.

Littler Mendelson: Once, Twice, Six Times a Sanctioning?

When I grow up, I wish for one thing (besides tons of money and someone to be my friend): I wish, nay, I pray that my name never ends up in the body of a court opinion. Seriously, how often is a lawyer’s name mentioned by a court in the opinion and it isn’t a massive screw-up? Courts never say, “Joe Smith is a brilliant advocate who presented admirable work.”

Thursday, the Ninth Circuit bench-slapped six Littler Mendelson attorneys by name, in three separate published orders, ordering them (within 21 days) to show cause why monetary sanctions should not be imposed against counsel individually for filing a frivolous petition for writ of mandamus in three separate cases. The cases, and attorneys include:

Judicial Council Defies DOMA, Orders Insurance Reimbursement

This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether it will hear a slew of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) challenges, along with a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. We’re guessing that the Court will grant at least one of the cases.

But before the Court can have its say on deciding DOMA’s fate, the Ninth Circuit has once again stepped into the DOMA spotlight. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council ordered a federal court in San Francisco to pay an employee’s costs for insurance coverage for his husband, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Bruce Matthews Loses NFL Lawsuit, Cal Workers' Comp Claim

Bruce Matthews played football in the National Football League (NFL) for 19 years, first for the Houston Oilers and later for its successor team, the Tennessee Titans (Titans). He retired in 2002. In 2008, Matthews filed for workers’ compensation benefits in California.

Matthews claimed pain and disability resulting from injuries incurred while he was employed by the NFL at “various” locations over years of “playing and practicing professional football.” He didn’t allege that he sustained any particular injury in California.