Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from September 6, 2015 to September 12, 2015 - Jeffrey S. Harris

A successor employer can be subject to withdrawal liability under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act, so long as it takes over the business with notice of the liability.  The most important factor in assessing whether an employer is a successor for purposes of withdrawal liability is whether there was substantial continuity in the business operations between the predecessor and the successor, as determined in large part by whether the new employer takes over the economically critical bulk of the prior employer's customer base.  Continuity of the workforce is a less important factor when determining whether an employer is a successor for the purpose of withdrawal liability, even though it is essential for concluding an employer is a successor with the duty to bargaining with a union under the National Labor Relations Act.  Resilient Floor Covering Pension Trust Fund Bd. of Tr. v. Michael's Floor Covering, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16160 (9th Cir. Sept. 11, 2015).

District Court properly granted employer summary judgment against former employee's failure to accommodate disability claim, because neither the employee's shoulder injury preventing him from sleeping on his left side without pain, although not preventing him from sleeping on his right side or back, nor his physicians limiting him from lifting no more than 25 pounds, substantially impaired his ability to perform the major life activities of sleeping and lifting.  Employee's inability to perform a single job did not substantially impair the major life activity of working, under the requirement effective before 2009 that the inability relates to a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs.  Sanchez v. United Parcel Serv., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16100 (9th Cir. Sept. 10, 2015) (result probably different under new regulations that provide example of employee who cannot lift more than 50 pounds).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against claim by plan that provided health and welfare benefits under collective bargaining agreement for recovery of benefits paid for individuals who were not employees for which the covered employer made contributions.  The Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempted the claim and did not support it.  Oregon Teamsters Employers Tr. v. Hillsboro Garbage Disposal, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15925 (9th Cir. Sept. 8, 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 that 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.