Hawaii Employment Law Decisions July 24, 2016 to July 30, 2016 - Jeffrey S. Harris

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District court erred by granting summary judgment against claim for long term disability benefits, because psychiatrists determined former employee could not work in any occupation, not just her own occupation limiting benefits to 18 months.  Plan's later denial of benefits past 18 months inadequately explained what evidence former employee could submit as evidence to show she qualified for continued benefits especially since she already submitted psychiatrists' determination she could not work in any occupation and qualified for Social Security benefits.  Scoles v. Intel Corp. Long Term Disability Benefit Plan, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13810 (9th Cir. July 29, 2016).

District court did not err by granting summary judgment against race, age and disability discrimination claim, because employee did not produce specific and substantial evidence showing employer's reason for terminating him - failure to adequately supervise his subordinates credit card purchase - was untrue or pretextual.  Decision maker's hiring of the employee and giving him highest raise among eight supervised gave rise to a strong inference there was no discriminatory motive.  Two remarks decision maker made were stray and raised no issue of pretext.  Dillard v. Hyatt Corp., 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 13825 (9th Cir. July 29, 2016).

District court did not err by granting summary judgment against age discrimination claim, because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact whether he was rejected from the position sought and its was filled with a person not of his protected class and or whether similarly situated employees were treated more favorably regarding work assignments.  District court did not err by granting summary judgment against hostile work environment claim, because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact whether he was subjected to sufficiently severe or pervasive conduct.  District court did not err by granting summary judgment against constructive discharge claim because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact whether his working conditions were so outrageous a reasonable person would feel compelled to resign.  Jones v. Sage Client 327 LLC, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 14431 (9th Cir. July 26, 2016).

District court correctly concluded to be exempt from ERISA as a church plan, a retirement plan must be established by a church or a convention or association of churches and must be maintained either by a church or a church affiliated organization whose principal purpose or function is to provide benefits to church employees.  Rollins v. Dignity Health, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13574 (9th Cir. July 26, 2016).

Court of Appeals denied petition for mandamus, where district court set case management order including a discovery schedule, motion deadlines and possible trial date for interstate truckers who claimed company misclassified them as a class as independent contractors, without first deciding whether their arbitration agreement was exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act as 'contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce'.  In re Swift Transportation Company, Inc. v. U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13575 (9th Cir. July 26, 2016).

District court did not abuse its discretion by concluding laches barred former employee from seeking relief under ADA.  Employer made prima facie showing it was prejudiced and former employee did not show employer was not prejudiced or exercise reasonable diligence in filing the clams.  Former employee offered no good justification for the delay.  The bare fact of delay created a rebuttable presumption of prejudice.  District found employer suffered evidentiary prejudice; the destruction of records potentially supporting its defense.    Romans v. Incline Village General Improvement District, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13603 (9th Cir. July 26, 2016).

District court properly imposed penalty against ERISA plan administrator for failing to produce plan document within 30 days of the plaintiff's request.  District court improperly imposed a penalty based on the plan administrator's failure to timely produce e-mails relating to the plaintiff's benefit claim, because the requirement to produce e-mails applies only to benefit plans and not plan administrators.  Lee v. Ing Group, N.V., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13489 (9th Cir. July 25, 2016).