Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


It is well established, as the Supreme Court noted in an opinion handed down this week, that "any alien convicted of an 'aggravated felony' after entering the United States will be deported." What is less well-known is what qualifies as an aggravated felony.

Upon examining this issue, the Court ruled that the federal statute used to determine whether a particular conviction constituted an aggravated felony is unconstitutionally vague. This means the definition of an aggravated felony under federal immigration law will need to be tightened up, and in the meantime, the rules for automatic deportation could be loosened.

Even cases that don't go a particular plaintiff's way can have larger and more positive ramifications for an entire community. Engineer Nicole Wittmer's claims against Phillips 66 -- that the energy company refused to hire her because she's transgender -- could be one of those cases.

Though a federal judge in Texas ruled that Wittmer lacked the evidence to prove discrimination in her particular case, the judge also ruled that federal employment law protecting workers from sex discrimination also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. Meaning LGBT plaintiffs in other employment discrimination cases could benefit, even if Wittmer lost.

Employers Can't Use Prior Salary Amounts to Justify Pay Gap

Many of us secretly wonder how much our colleagues make and whether or not we're being paid what we deserve. And if we're not paid the same, what's the justification for those pay differences? When a Fresno math consultant found out her male counterpart was paid more solely because he made more at his last job, she sued her employer. Now, a federal court has decided that prior salary cannot be used to justify a pay gap.

A Pokemon Go Fest without Pokemon Go isn't much of a fest at all, as game creator Niantic quickly learned last summer. The first (and perhaps last) of its kind, the festival was held in Chicago's Grant Park and attracted over 20,000 of the game's most ardent fans. But, as attendee Andrew Goldfarb described, "for much of the day, most people couldn't even get the game to start, leaving them standing in the hot, crowded park with not much to do but wander aimlessly."

"Others could connect but found the game laggy and unresponsive," Goldfarb added, "or encountered crashes every time something good popped up." Of course, this led to quite a few lawsuits, most of which were settled by Niantic this week, to the tune of $1,575,000.

The minimum requirements for employers paying overtime pay are dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires overtime pay for certain classes of employees and exempts others, including "any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles, trucks, or farm implements."

But what about "service advisors"? Those car dealership employees, who, according to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "neither sell automobiles nor service (i.e., repair or maintain) vehicles ... Rather, they 'meet and greet [car] owners'; 'solicit and sugges[t]' repair services 'to remedy the [owner's] complaints'; 'solicit and suggest ... supplemental [vehicle] service[s]'; and provide owners with cost estimates"? Do they get overtime pay?

Not according to five of Justice Ginsburg's colleagues.

Coffee in California Must Include Cancer Warning, Court Rules

There are a variety of laws that protect people from various types of harm. For example, California's Proposition 65 -- the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act -- requires businesses to inform Californians about exposure to chemicals that are known to cause cancer. And, now coffee companies and retailers have been added to the list of businesses.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge released a decision that says coffee retailers and companies need to post cancer warnings for coffee that's sold in California. Judge Elihu Berle found that the coffee companies involved in the lawsuit didn't "sufficiently argue that their products had insignificant levels of a carcinogen found in coffee."

Conservative Videos Weren't Censored by YouTube, Judge Rules

There's a reason freedom of speech is in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- it's pretty central to the essence of being American. So, if that freedom starts to erode, you can bet we're going to hear about it. One group feels that their First Amendment rights have been violated in the form of online censorship. Conservative Prager University sued Google for discrimination regarding their YouTube videos. However, the judge disagrees with those claims.

Oregon Settles Shocking Foster Child Abuse Case for $1.3 Million

When an adult seriously harms a child, the full force of the law should come down on them. And when a series of adults could have easily prevented that harm, they should be held responsible for that abhorrent negligence. These are, after all, the lives of innocent children we're talking about.

In a truly shocking case, Oregon child welfare workers ignored clear warning signs and placed a four-year-old girl with a man who later allegedly raped and abused her. And now the state agency has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought on her behalf, while her former foster father is a free man.

Warrantless Cell Phone Searches at U.S. Border OK in Florida Case

People are guaranteed certain rights in the criminal justice system. One of those rights is to be free of random searches. The Fourth Amendment requires police to have probable cause in order to search an individual, which usually must be evidenced through a warrant. There are certain circumstances, however, where a search warrant is not necessary before conducting a search. According to the 11th Circuit, the warrantless search of a Florida man's cell phone didn't violate the Fourth Amendment.

Texas Can Enforce Ban on Sanctuary Cities, 5th Circuit Rules

With President Trump and his administration's focus on immigration, it's no surprise that immigration topics are often in the news. A bulk of the current news relating to immigration pertains to undocumented immigrants and the concept of sanctuary cities. Cities that consider themselves sanctuaries limit the amount of assistance that law enforcement and other government employees can give to the federal government when it comes to matters relating to immigration.