On June 1, 2020 and in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that participants in a defined-benefit retirement plan lacked Article III standing to bring a lawsuit against the plan’s fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A., No. 17-1712. Plaintiffs James Thole and Sherry Smith are retired participants of U.S. Bank’s defined-benefit retirement plan. Under the terms of the plan, plaintiffs are guaranteed a fixed payment each month regardless of the plan’s value or the fiduciaries’ investment decisions with respect to the plan. Plaintiffs have [...]
Following up on COVID-cast’s first episode, “Navigating The Class Action Legal Landscape During COVID-19” where attorney’s Matthew D. Berkowitz and Brian O’Shea dove into existing lawsuits and potential lawsuits filed by employees against employers. In this episode, they discuss important things for essential and non-essential business to keep in mind as they start to reopen like PPE, following CDC guidelines, monitoring how many employees are in the workplace, and if considering if work from home is a viable option in the months ahead.
As we gear up to enter back into our new normal, industries of all types will be facing legal issues due to COVID-19 related claims. During this pandemic, grocers and essential businesses are facing class action lawsuits in spite of attempting to mitigate the risk. Employees and shoppers are filing against retailers and grocers alleging that employers took inadequate steps to protect employees and shoppers from COVID-19.
Matt Berkowitz and Brian O’Shea discuss many types of scenarios and positions that the defense and plaintiff might take during a class action lawsuit due to COVID-19 exposure.
With the Coronavirus outbreak not letting up, businesses of all sizes face new regulations as federal and state legislation has evolved to provide employees with additional benefits and protections. On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. The legislation requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. And, the FFCRA requires companies with less than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of sick leave pay to certain eligible employees. Additionally, states passed similar bills providing paid employee [...]
COVID-19 Brings New Demands to Essential Retailers and Grocers to Avoid Potential Class Action Lawsuits
Recently, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an executive order requiring all customers entering Washington DC grocery stores, foodbanks, and convenience stores to wear masks or protective face coverings when entering. The legislation, aimed at stopping the spread of Coronavirus also requires grocery store limit the amount of people within a store and provide additional self-checkout lanes. Similarly, many Washington DC area grocery stores have taken additional measures to protect their employees during the coronavirus, including installing glass partitions at check-out counters, increasing the availability of self check-out lanes and permitting employees to wear personal protective [...]
On August 16, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that minor league baseball players in Arizona and Florida could join minor leaguers in California in a multi-state employment class action against major league baseball ownership and its franchises. The players claim that baseball’s owners and teams failed to comply with the federal Fair LaborStandards Act and Arizona, California, and Florida labor laws by not paying them the required minimum wage. While the players were paid a minimum wage for a 40-hour work week, they claim they were required to work much [...]
NLRB Finds Employers Can Modify Arbitration Agreements After Suit to Prohibit Participation in Collective Actions
On August 14, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that employers can revise mandatory arbitration agreements to prohibit employees from joining class and collective actions even after a suit has been filed. The NLRB further held that employers may condition continued employment on the execution of the amended agreement and threaten to terminate those who refuse. Neither action was found to violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits employers from interfering with employees’ union-related activities under Section 7 of the Act. In the case at bar, a group of employees filed a [...]
D.C. District Court Dismisses Proposed Class Action Against The George Washington University Alleging Mismanagement of Workers’ Retirement Savings
On Monday, July 15, 2019, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit against The George Washington University. The suit was filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The Court held that Plaintiff Melissa Stanley lacked standing to sue because she explicitly gave up her right to sue as part of a 2016 settlement with the University. Stanley filed the instant lawsuit against the University in April 2018, alleging that the University, its board of trustees, and its plan administration committee breached their fiduciary duty by burdening Stanley’s [...]
On April 24, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court held that an ambiguous arbitration clause is not sufficient under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) to force class arbitration on a non-consenting party. Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, No. 17-1988. The Court concluded that lower courts may not draw an inference from an ambiguous agreement that the parties consented to class arbitration and that neither silence nor ambiguity can establish a party’s consent to class arbitration under the FAA. This is because, according to the Court, parties’ consent to arbitrate is the foundational principle of arbitration agreements. Lamps Plus [...]
Prospective Employees Who Were Not Given a Separate Disclosure of a Pre-Employment Background Checks Have Standing to Bring Suits for Technical Violations of the FCRA
Despite the Supreme Court’s holding in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), as revised (May 24, 2016), a federal court recently allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed against Amazon, as a prospective employer, for a technical violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and without any “actual harm.” In Hargrett v. Amazon.com DEDC LLC, 235 F. Supp. 3d 1320 (M.D. Fla. 2017), job applicants filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon, alleging a statutory violation of § 1681b(b)(2)(A) of FCRA in connection with preemployment background checks. Section 1681b(b)(2)(A)(I)-(ii) requires that before conducting a [...]