Hawaii Employment Law Cases December 17, 2017 to December 23, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

Hawaii Employment Law Cases December 17, 2017 to December 23, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Workweek starts any day and hour.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against overtime pay claim, because a workweek may begin on any day and at any hour of the day.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against sexual harassment claim, because former employee failed to raise triable dispute whether alleged conduct was by a supervisor and whether the company failed to take prompt and effective remedial action.  District Court property granted summary judgment against retaliation claims for complaint about unpaid overtime, because employee failed to raise triable dispute whether there was causal connection between protected activity and adverse action.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against retaliation claims for complaining about sexual harassment, because company articulated legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for ending former employee’s contract and former employee failed to raise triable dispute whether the reasons were pre-textual.  District Court property granted summary judgment against discrimination claim, because former employee failed to raise triable dispute whether the company discriminated against him based on his race.  Justice v. Rockwell Collins, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26259 (9th Cir. Dec. 21, 2017).

Need to move for judgment as matter of law.  Former employee waived challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting jury’s verdict against his claim of a racially hostile work environment, by failing to move for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial before the District Court.   District Court properly granted summary judgment against claim of race discrimination, because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether he suffered an adverse employment action because he applied for no promotions or transfers during the relevant period and he failed to establish a prima facie case of race discrimination based on a work-hour reduction.  Allen v. Raley’s, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26248 (9th Cir. Dec. 21, 2017).

Cosmetologists not employees, because training quailed them.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against cosmetology students’ Fair Labor Standards Act claim.  Under the "economic reality" test, students were not employees under the FLSA even though they alleged much of their time was spent in menial and unsupervised work.  A "primary beneficiary" analysis, rather than a test formulated by the Department of Labor, applied in the specific context of student workers. The students, not defendant schools, were the primary beneficiaries of their own labors because at the end of their training they qualified to practice cosmetology.  Benjamin v. B & H Educ., Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25672 (9th Cir. Dec. 19, 2017).

Arbitration not clearly and convincingly tainted.  District Court did not clearly err by concluding there was no clear and convincing evidence the arbitration process relating to discharge of an employee was tainted by corruption.  United Transp. Union v. BNSF Ry., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25679 (9th Cir. Dec. 19, 2017).

Union member entitled to names and addresses of members who used hiring hall.  Ninth Circuit enforced National Labor Relations Board’s order requiring union to provide names and addresses of all members using hiring hall to intervening union member.  The Board was not required to have jurisdiction over each individual employer, because the only remedy the member sought was requiring the union to provide its own referral information.  The Board correctly concluded the union operated an exclusive hiring hall, because the union’s agreements with employers required them to first use the union’s referral service.  Disclosure of the names and addresses of all members using the hiring hall did not threaten the union or the associational rights of union members and the union did not have a confidentiality policy meant to protect the privacy of its members.  NLRB v. Int’l All. of Theatrical Stage Employees, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25532 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2017).

Eligibility for early retirement benefits.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against denial of early retirement benefits.  Pension plan abused its discretion by construing the plan in a way that clearly conflicted with the plain language of the plan.  Using the plan’s definitions of "Member," "Retirement," "Early Retirement Benefit," and "Early Retirement Age," a Member, which included former employees, was eligible for the early retirement benefits since he elected to commence benefits after he turned fifty-five years old, but before he reached sixty five years old, and had ten years of credited service.  The plan waived another reason for denying benefits it did not give during the administrative process. Dresel v. Pension Plan of the Pac. Northwest Labs., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25522 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2017).

Asset buyer must have notice of withdrawal liability to be liable for it.  District Court did not err by holding asset buyer must have notice of seller’s withdrawal liability before becoming successor liable for withdrawal liability.  The notice requirement ensured fairness by guaranteeing successor has an opportunity to negotiate a lower price or an indemnity clause.  Knowing some of seller’s employees were unionized and seller contributed to pension fund were insufficient to show notice.  Statements by owner of an entirely separate business in a different city with no ownership stake in buyer or seller that he would be non-union if pension was not fully funded did not change result.  Resilient Floor Covering Pension Trust Fund Bd. of Trs. v. Michael’s Floor Covering, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25525 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2017).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules courts will follow or disappoint us if they do not. Rules courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. Competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case that discuss them, or expand the rules by showing differences in other cases are irrelevant.