10 Recent Federal Employment Law Cases to Know

10 Recent Federal Employment Law Cases to Know.

The federal appellate courts continue to be busy with labor and employment cases, ranging from allegations of ADA and FLSA violations to discrimination. Over 2,000 such cases were filed in U.S. circuit courts of appeals during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2016.

At O’Connor’s, we read every reported federal appellate opinion interpreting the labor and employment statutes in our Federal Employment Codes Plus book and annotate the ones that will be most useful to employment-law practitioners. Here are some of the significant 2016-2017 cases you’ll need to know –

Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 2117 (2016).

The Court held that the Department of Labor must provide a reasoned explanation when it changes its longtime interpretation of a statutory FLSA exemption. Because it did not do so in this case, the Department’s conclusion that automobile service advisors are no longer exempt from the FLSA was not supported.  Encino Motorcars, 136 S.Ct. at 2125-26.

Green v. Brennan, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1769 (2016).

The Court held that a constructive-discharge claim accrues (and the limitations period begins to run) in a Title VII claim when the employee gives notice of her resignation, not on the effective date of that resignation. Green, 136 S.Ct. at 1782.

Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP, 834 F.3d 975 (9th Cir.2016), cert. granted, 137 S.Ct. 809 (2017).

Lewis v. Epic Sys., 823 F.3d 1147 (7th Cir.2016), cert. granted, 137 S.Ct. 809 (2017).

The Seventh and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals held that an employment agreement that requires employees to bring employment-related claims only through individual arbitration violates the National Labor Relations Act and is unenforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act. Morris, 834 F.3d at 979; Lewis, 823 F.3d at 1151. This creates a circuit split with the Fifth Circuit, which held that an employment agreement that prohibits employee class actions and requires employment-related claims to be resolved through individual arbitration does not violate the NLRA. Murphy Oil USA, Inc. v. NLRB, 808 F.3d 1013, 1018-19 (5th Cir.2015), cert. granted, 137 S.Ct. 809 (2017). The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the petitions for writ of certiorari to resolve the split on this issue.

Rollins v. Dignity Health, 830 F.3d 900 (9th Cir.2016), cert. granted, 137 S.Ct. 547 (2016) (argued 3-27-17).

Stapleton v. Advocate Health Care Network, 817 F.3d 517 (7th Cir.2016), cert. granted, 137 S.Ct. 546 (2016) (argued 3-27-17).

The Seventh and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals held that a retirement plan established by a church-affiliated organization, such as a hospital or school, is subject to ERISA. Rollins, 830 F.3d at 903; Stapleton, 817 F.3d at 519. The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the petitions for writ of certiorari and heard oral arguments on this issue.

Vaughan v. Anderson Reg’l Med. Ctr., 849 F.3d 588 (5th Cir.2017).

The Fifth Circuit held that damages for pain and suffering or punitive damages are not recoverable for ADEA discrimination or retaliation claims. Vaughan, 849 F.3d at 589.

Villarreal v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 839 F.3d 958 (11th Cir.2016).

On rehearing, the Fifth Circuit reversed its 2015 holding in this case and held that ADEA disparate-impact claims are limited to current employees and cannot be brought by unsuccessful job applicants. Villarreal, 839 F.3d at 961.

Flynn v. Distinctive Home Care, Inc., 812 F.3d 422 (5th Cir.2016).

The Fifth Circuit joined the Ninth and Tenth Circuits—creating a circuit split with the Eighth Circuit—in holding that independent contractors can bring employment-discrimination suits under the Rehabilitation Act. Flynn, 812 F.3d at 432.

For a definitive collection of employment-law statutes supplemented by on-point, up-to-date case-law annotations, turn to O’Connor’s Federal Employment Codes Plus as your first source for the law. O’Connor’s Federal Employment Codes Plus 2017-2018 is now in stock. Visit our online store to order your copy!

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