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Uber Lawsuit: Chen's Class Certification to Be Reviewed by 9th Cir.

Remember how it seemed that the world was coming to and end in the case of O'Connor v. Uber when District Court Judge Chen certified a class of Uber drivers that numbered approximately 150,000? Uber was not too happy about that and appealed the class certification. They got denied once.

Just Kidding! It looks like the Ninth Circuit will be hearing that issue after all. It should be emphasized that the challenge to certification does not stop the case, but a decertification of the class would be a major step back for Uber plaintiffs who've been pushing for employee status and labor protections.

Sexual Harassment Claims Against Prison Co. Will Go Forward

A previously dismissed sexual harassment suit brought against a Florida-state correctional agency that contracts with the Department of Justice must be reinstated, said the Ninth Circuit. The case centers on the unprofessional and sexually explicit behaviors of male co-workers who were employees of Florida based Geo Group.

The Arizona Attorneys Office seemed happy by the Ninth Circuit's ruling. "This ruling allows our office to seek remedies for 25 women who were forced to accept sexual harassment by their male co-workers and supervisors as a requirement for their work at the Geo Group," said Mia Garcia, a spokesperson for the AZ Attorney General's Office.

9th Circuit Expands Dept. of Labor Power Into Tip-Pools

The Ninth Circuit recently reinvigorated a 2011 tip-pooling rule, allowing the regulations of employers who use the practice despite steering clear of the FLSA's "tip credit" provisions.

Ed O'Bannon and other college athletes won't get an en banc rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, the court announced today. O'Bannon, the once-upon-a-time star of the UCLA basketball team, sued the NCAA for antitrust violations after he discovered the association was licensing his image for video games, while preventing college athletes from making a dime off such deals.

The Ninth Circuit gave the NCAA a partial win in September. Yes, the NCAA is subject to antitrust laws, the court found. But no, the NCAA cannot simply set aside $5,000 in trust for athletes, payable on graduation. And no, the court announced today, it's not willing to reconsider.

The Ninth Circuit has given the EEOC the go ahead to compel production of so-called "pedigree information" in employment investigations. Pedigree information includes things like an employee's name, Social Security number, address, and telephone number.

The ruling came after the EEOC investigated the McLane Company for gender discrimination after it refused to allow an employee to return to her job following maternity leave. The Commission sought extensive information on employees which McLane refused to provide but which, the Ninth Circuit has ruled, was appropriate and relevant to the investigation.

Uber Drivers Score Another Win in the 9th Cir.

Another win was secured for Uber drivers in O'Connor et al v. Uber Technologies Inc. as the Ninth Circuit denied the company's request to appeal the recent order approving the class certification in a lawsuit by drivers who wished to be categorized as employees.

The ruling means that drivers could potentially be relieved of gas and maintenance costs of their vehicles which they currently pay for themselves, according to Reuters. The final outcome of the Uber controversy will not only impact the business model of Uber, but other companies within the sharing economy as well.

9th Cir. Reverses Lower Court ADEA Age Discrimination Case

Last August, the Ninth Circuit reversed the lower district's summary judgment in favor of the Department of Homeland Security when a border patrol agent sued the branch of the agency alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, better known as ADEA.

In the lawsuit, government employee John France alleged that he had been passed over for promotion to Assistant Chief Patrol Agent with a pay scale of GS-15 because he was the oldest candidate who applied. The Department of Homeland Security demurred and the Appellate Court finally reversed, ruling that the facts did not support summary judgment.

Seattle can continue with its minimum wage hike after the International Franchise Association lost its lawsuit challenging the ordinance. The IFA had sought to halt the wage increase, which went into effect this April, but the Ninth Circuit denied their request for a preliminary injunction last Friday.

The court rejected the IFA's claims that the wage increase "illegally discriminates against franchises." The law raises Seattle's minimum wage incrementally from $10 an hour to $15 over a period of years. Small businesses are given more time to meet the new requirements; franchises, like McDonald's and Pizza Hut, are not.

Right before it left for summer break, the Supreme Court granted cert to a case that will leave many teachers worried about their future. On the last day of its 2015 term, the Court agreed to review a constitutional challenge to state rules requiring some government workers to pay fees to unions they have not joined. The suit came from a group of non-union California school teachers who claimed the fees infringed upon their First Amendment rights.

According to the non-union teachers, they should not be forced to financially support a union they do not agree with. Labor advocates, the California Attorney General, and Supreme Court precedent, however, argue that the teachers benefit from organized labor and should therefore be required to pay their fair share for the benefit. It's likely that precedent won't stand much longer.

The Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear an ERISA case from 2014 which held that a lawsuit by employees of the biotech company Amgen can go forward. Those employees accuse Amgen of violating its fiduciary duties by including the company's own stock in retirement holdings when plan administrators should have known that stock was overvalued.

The decision is one of the first ERISA-related rulings since the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the presumption of prudence for Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) fiduciaries. The refusal to rehear it en banc has lead to a strongly worded disagreement between Judges Fletcher and Kozinski.