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Court: Employer Violated Labor Law by 'Laundering' Housekeepers

Myrna Harrison worked as a housekeeper for HealthBridge for 22 years. One day, she found out the company had taken away her seniority.

She was not alone. HealthBridge did the same to 48 housekeepers by transferring them to a subcontractor and then bringing them back as "new hires."

That's called "laundering," said the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in HealthBridge Management v. National Labor Relations Board. And no, you can't do that to housekeepers.

Court to Macy's: Clean Up on Arbitration Aisle

In New York, an employer can change arbitration conditions by mailing a notice to workers.

That's nothing new, which is one reason the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said its summary order had no precedential effect in Weiss v. Macy's Retail Holdings.

But the appeals court did tell Macy's to clean up its description of arbitration as a "benefit," which is why it made the news.

The news about former Ninth Circuit Judge Kozinski's resignation amid allegations of misconduct came as a shock to the public. And now, the Second Circuit's opinion that the judiciary is powerless to pursue the complaint against him is definitely leading to some unpleasant reactions.

In case you've had your head buried in Second Circuit caselaw, or some sandy beach, since before Christmas, then you've heard about Kozinski's misconduct towards staff and abrupt his retirement. In response to the complaint initiated by the Ninth Circuit, Chief Justice John Roberts referred the matter to the Second Circuit to handle to avoid the obvious impropriety of allowing the Ninth to handle the matter. Unfortunately for the public, which, as of recently, finally seems to be placing a high value on prosecuting sexual misconduct and gender discrimination claims, the news out of the Second Circuit isn't promising.

Curtis Hardaway's pro se appeal of the Federal District Court of Connecticut's sua sponte dismissal of his Title VII lawsuit against the Hartford Public Works Department was surprisingly successful in winning a reversal and remand.

The district court dismissed Hardaway's third amended complaint on a rather significant technicality: he failed to plead facts to show that he satisfied the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement under Title VII. The Second Circuit reasoned that the district court could not dismiss the case sua sponte as the exhaustion requirement was not a jurisdictional requirement, but rather an affirmative defense.

The Wang v. Hearst case has been closely watched over the past several years as the courts worked to define when an unpaid internship violated the FLSA.

As one of the major fashion media corporations, Hearst was upfront in seeking out the unpaid interns, but the case erupted after some of those interns felt that Hearst was getting the better end of the bargain. Unfortunately for the interns, the law surrounding unpaid internships is anything but certain. And sadly for those interns, in providing some certainty on the law, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of their action against Hearst on summary judgment, finding that none of the plaintiff interns were employees.

Justice Dept. Seeks to Stop LGBT Ruling

The Trump Administration fired two shots across the bow of the LGBT community, aiming to set back Obama-era rulings that protected soldiers and workers.

The same day Trump announced that the U.S. military would not allow transgender people in the armed forces, the Justice Department told a federal court that anti-discrimination laws should not protect people at work based on their sexual orientation.

In Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., the Justice Department says that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers based on their sex -- not their sexual orientation.

Foot Locker Loses Appeal of $180 Million Verdict for ERISA Violations

Foot Locker stepped on its employees, but didn't expect them to kick back.

In Osberg v. Foot Locker, Inc., the plaintiffs won a $180 million judgment against the company for misleading them about their pension plan. The company appealed, saying it was an unfair windfall to more than 10,000 employee claims that were time-barred.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the arguments, saying the claims were not barred because the workers could not reasonably determine when they had been wronged.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. That includes discrimination against employees who fail to conform to gender stereotypes. But the Civil Rights Act offers no explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and many courts have refused to allow suits alleging discrimination because of anti-gay bias, even if that bias was born out of gender stereotypical views.

But the Second Circuit opened the door to just such a challenge on Monday, ruling that a gay employee who suffered homophobic harassment could pursue a Title VII lawsuit against his employer.

2nd Cir. Adopts NLRB Standard for Bargaining Units

The Second Circuit has adopted the National Labor Relations Board's organizational standards for proposed unions. In applying a two-part test, the court joined other federal jurisdictions to evaluate whether proposed collective bargaining units consist of employees who share a "community of interests" and do not "arbitrarily exclude other employees." The panel reached its decision in Constellation Brands v. National Labor Relations Board, a contest over the organization of a winery's operations department.

"We hold the Specialty Healthcare framework to be valid, as our sister circuits have, and to be consistent with this Court's precedent," the court said. While upholding the NLRB's framework, however, the court concluded the Board did not properly apply the standard.

When the Baltimore Orioles go into overtime, the workers in Camden Yards don't exactly celebrate. That's because the men and women who sell you your peanuts and crackerjacks don't get paid overtime.

Those workers sued in 2011, alleging that the lack of overtime ran afoul of federal labor laws. But the Second Circuit disagreed last Monday, ruling that the concession workers were exempt from overtime protection.