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Employment Law Memo 02/29/2008
by LawMemo - First in Employment Law

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7th - Salvation Army minister was exempt from FLSA under "ministerial exception."

Schleicher v. Salvation Army (7th Cir 02/28/2008)

Schleicher was an ordained minister who ran a Salvation Army rehabilitation/recovery center.  He sued the employer, asserting claims for unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The trial court dismissed Schleicher's claims, based on the "ministerial exception."  The 7th Circuit affirmed, stating "[t]he Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Centers are functional equivalents of cathedrals or monasteries, and the ministers who administer them are therefore engaged in ecclesiastical administration."  The court approved the trial court's application of a presumption that clerical personnel are exempt from coverage under the FLSA.  The court noted that the presumption can be overcome by evidence that (for example) the church is a sham.  The court determined, however, that Schleicher failed to carry his burden of overcoming the presumption.

11th - A private individual may not maintain a False Claims Act qui tam action pro se.

Timson v. Sampson (11th Cir 02/27/2008)

Timson sued the employer, pursing a qui tam action under the federal False Claims Act (FCA).  The trial court dismissed the suit, based on its determination that qui tam suits can't be maintained pro se.  The 11th Circuit affirmed, agreeing with the 7th, 8th, and 9th Circuits that a private individual may not maintain an FCA qui tam action pro se.

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7th - Employee in ADA case produced sufficient evidence that she was discharged because of her association with a disabled person.

Dewitt v. Proctor Hospital (7th Cir 02/27/2008)

Dewitt sued the employer, asserting (among other things) a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that she suffered discrimination based on her association with a disabled person.  Dewitt's claim arose from the allegation that she was discharged by her self-insured employer in order to save the cost of treating her husband's cancer.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.  The 7th Circuit reversed, concluding that Dewitt produced sufficient direct evidence of discriminatory animus to get to a jury.  The court also concluded that Dewitt should have been allowed to amend her complaint to add a retaliation claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) based on the same facts.

9th - Section 1981 claim was untimely, to the extent it relied upon allegations of discrimination that occurred prior to 2000.

Williams v. Boeing (9th Cir 02/27/2008)

Williams sued the employer in a class action, asserting a 42 USC Section 1981 race discrimination (discriminatory compensation practices) claim.  The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the employer, as to the part of the claim that related to alleged discrimination prior to May 2000.  The 9th Circuit affirmed, concluding that the pre-May 2000 allegations were untimely.  The court reasoned that 1) the claims were not sufficiently pled in the initial complaint; 2) the relevant portions of Williams' amended complaint did not "relate back" to the initial complaint; and 3) Williams' judicial estoppel and tolling arguments failed.

10th - Employee's Title VII retaliation claim failed under both the direct and indirect evidence models of proof.

Fye v. Oklahoma Corporation Commission (10th Cir 02/27/2008)

Fye sued the employer, asserting a Title VII retaliation claim.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.  The 10th Circuit affirmed, concluding that 1) Fye produced insufficient evidence to get to a jury under the "direct evidence" model of proof; and 2) Fye produced insufficient evidence of pretext to get to a jury under the "indirect evidence" model of proof.

CA - PERB erred in analyzing whether public university was required to bargain over parking changes.

California Faculty v. PERB (California Ct App 02/28/2008)

The public university faculty's union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) over parking issues.  PERB rejected the charge, concluding that the employer had no duty to bargain over a change in parking arrangements.  The court set aside PERB's decision, and remanded for re-consideration.  PERB based its decision on the determination that the issue of parking location "does not involve the 'employment relationship.'"  The court found that determination to be erroneous, and remanded for consideration of the remaining elements of the union's unfair labor practice charge.

CA - Employee was only entitled to $500 in attorney fees after settling state law overtime class action suit.

Harrington v. Payroll Services (California Ct App 02/28/2008)

Harrington sued the employer in a class action, asserting a state law claim for unpaid overtime compensation.  The trial court denied class certification and the case settled for $10,500.  Harrington then sought $46,000 in attorney fees, but the trial court declined to award any attorney fees whatsoever.  The court reversed, concluding that 1) Harrington was entitled to attorney fees under Cal. Labor Code Section 2699; and 2) $500 was an appropriate amount.  The court noted, "[i]t is as plain to us as it was to the trial court that, from the outset, this was a dispute about $44.63 and that it was not viable as a class action."


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