Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from November 8, 2015 to November 14, 2015 – Jeffrey S. Harris

Although union failed to serve subpoena on counsel in violation of NLRB's rules, company received subpoena and could have sent it to counsel within time for filing a petition to revoke it.  Company waived objections to the subpoena by not filing petition, because it showed no prejudice or support for objecting based on privilege. National Labor Relations Board v. Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19763 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2015).

District court properly granted summary judgment denying retirees' claim for additional benefits.  Court reviewed pension plan administrator's decision under an abuse of discretion standard, because the plan document granted the administrator discretionary authority.  The court properly considered the administrator's also acting as the funding source in that deference.  Even if the administrator first interpreted the provision after the retirees' sued, the same standard of review would apply.  Changing the interpretation of an unrelated provision did not change that standard or undermine the challenged termination.   The plan provision did not entitle the retirees to additional benefits.  Barnes v. AT&T Pension Benefit Plan, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19776 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2015).

District court properly granted summary judgment against disability discrimination claim by criminal investigator.  The investigator did not show he was qualified for the position despite his misconduct caused by PTSD or how his proposed accommodation of weekly therapy sessions would enable him to qualify despite the possibility of additional flare ups.  Garcia v. JEH Johnson, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19786 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2015).

District court properly granted summary judgment against claim that disability plan improperly prorated beneficiaries' bonus.  Court reviewed pension plan administrator's decision under an abuse of discretion standard, because the plan document granted the administrator discretionary authority.  The court properly considered the administrator's also acting as the funding source in that deference.    Although the plan language was ambiguous, the administrator's interpretation was not illogical, implausible or without support in inferences that could be drawn from the record.  Powell v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19785 (9TH Cir. Nov. 13, 2015).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules the courts will follow or disappoint us if they don't. Rules that the courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. But competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case where they are discussed, or expand rules by showing that differences in other cases are irrelevant.