9th Circuit Employment Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Employment Law Category

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.

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."

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.

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.

Employee Can Sue EEOC for Disability Discrimination

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, undaunted by irony, reinstated an employee's disability discrimination claim against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Monday.

Yes, even the EEOC gets sued.

Church of Scientology Wins in 9th Cir, But Did it Really Win?

It seems that the Church of Scientology experiences renewed interest — both good and bad — every time Tom Cruise’s personal life endures a major shift.

(Maybe that’s why The Village Voice named Cruise as number 4 among the top 25 people crippling Scientology.)

But a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Church of Scientology on Tuesday could generate far more buzz than Cruise’s personal life.

No Evidence of Age Discrimination in KPIX Reporter Termination

It's not easy to prove a TV discrimination claim, but that doesn't stop television personalities and hopefuls from filing employment discrimination lawsuits.

In April, two prospective contestants for The Bachelor filed a class action lawsuit against ABC for racial discrimination. In a far less publicized case out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, two television reporters lost their age discrimination claims on Tuesday after failing to provide proof that a TV station discriminated against them due to their ages, reports The Associated Press.

Judge Rules CalPERS Must Cover Same-Sex Couples

California's same-sex couples won another federal court victory over the Defense of Marriage Act last week. Oakland-based District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled on Thursday that the California Public Employees' Retirement System, commonly known as CalPERS, must extend long-term care insurance to same-sex spouses and partners, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Judge Wilken is the second federal judge in California to rule that DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional. In February, Judge Jeffrey White ruled DOMA is unconstitutional as applied to Karen Golinski, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals employee. The Golinski ruling is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.