Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Employment Law
State ex rel. Parraz v. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc.
Claimant was terminated from her employment for violating the written attendance policy in her union contract after she was injured at work. Thereafter, Claimant filed for temporary-total-disability (TTD) compensation for her work-related injury. The Industrial Commission concluded that, per State ex rel. Louisiana-Pacific Corp. v. Indus. Comm., Claimant’s termination was a voluntary abandonment that barred payment of TTD compensation. Claimant then filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus. The court of appeals denied the writ, concluding that the evidence supported the Commission’s finding of voluntary abandonment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimant failed to establish that the Commission abused its discretion when it denied her request for TTD compensation.View "State ex rel. Parraz v. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc." on Justia Law
Bd. of Educ. of Webster County v. Hanna
Dawn Hanna worked for the Board of Education of Webster County as a teacher from 1989 until 2012. After fundraiser proceeds went missing, Hanna was informed that she would be charged with felony embezzlement but that she could avoid prosecution by resigning from her position and paying back the missing funds. Pursuant to this discussion, Hanna resigned from her position. Hanna subsequently applied for unemployment benefits. The Board of Review of WorkForce West Virginia concluded that Hanna was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits because she voluntarily quit her job. The circuit court reversed, finding that Hanna acted under duress and that her decision to resign was not voluntary. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that WorkForce was not clearly wrong when it found that Hanna resigned voluntarily, and therefore, the circuit court erred in reversing WorkForce’s findings.View "Bd. of Educ. of Webster County v. Hanna" on Justia Law
Doyle v. City of Medford
The issues this case presented for the Supreme Court were whether ORS 243.303(2) (which requires local governments to make available to retired employees, "insofar as and to the extent possible," the health care insurance coverage available to current officers and employees of the local government,) created a private right of action for the enforcement of that duty; or, if not, whether the Court should (under its common-law authority) provide such a right of action. The Court of Appeals held that the statute did not expressly or impliedly create a private right of action, and it considered that conclusion to be dispositive of plaintiffs' claim for relief. The Supreme Court also concluded that the statute did not expressly or impliedly create a private right of action for its enforcement. However, where a statute imposes a legal duty, but there is no indication that the legislature intended to create (or not to create) a private right of action for its enforcement, courts must (if such relief is sought) determine whether the judicial creation of a common-law right of action would be consistent with the legislative provision, appropriate for promoting its policy, and needed to ensure its effectiveness. Analyzing the duty imposed on local governments by ORS 243.303(2) under that standard, the Court declined to create an additional common-law right of action for its enforcement because: (1) plaintiffs failed to identify a cognizable common-law claim for relief whose creation is appropriate and necessary to effectuate the legislature's purpose; (2) a declaratory judgment and supplemental relief were adequate to enforce the statutory duty; and (3) a significant change in existing law would result from judicial creation of a tort claim permitting the recovery of noneconomic damages in the circumstances here, and there is no other need to create a common-law tort claim. View "Doyle v. City of Medford" on Justia Law
Nelson v. Megginson
Madeline Nelson and 25 other individuals formerly employed as nontenured teachers or probationary classified employees in the Mobile County Public School System appealed the dismissal of their action against the members of the Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County -- Ken Megginson, Judy P. Stout, Reginald A. Crenshaw, Levon C. Manzie, and William Foster -- and against the superintendent of the school system, Martha Peek. In 2009, the plaintiffs filed an action against the Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County which was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice three years later in light of the Supreme Court's decision in "Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County v. Weaver," (99 So. 3d 1210 (Ala. 2012)). In 2012, the plaintiffs refiled their action , alleging that their employment was terminated "pursuant to a reduction-in-force implemented by Defendants in response to alleged financial constraints." The plaintiffs further alleged that the failure to rehire them by the conclusion of the following school year was a violation of a written policy of the school system. The circuit court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint: "[t]his action was brought more than three (3) years from the date of accrual. All of the Plaintiffs' claims for mandamus, declaratory or injunctive relief would be barred by the two (2) year statute of limitations set out in 6-2-38(l). Finally, any of the Plaintiffs' claims for backpay or other monetary relief would be barred by the same two (2) [year] statute of limitations under 6-2-38(m)." On appeal to the Supreme Court, plaintiffs primarily contended that the circuit court erred in concluding that their claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations because they stated a breach-of-contract claim, which had a six-year statute of limitations. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiffs stated a claim of breach of contract and that therefore their claim was subject to a six-year, rather than a two-year, statute of limitations. Accordingly, the circuit court's dismissal was reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Nelson v. Megginson" on Justia Law
Bovaird v. New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services
The New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services appealed a superior court order granting the cross-motion for summary judgment filed by petitioner William Bovaird, and denying the Department's motion. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employed petitioner as an Operations Officer I, Labor Grade 20, until it laid him off in 2009. The Department then placed petitioner on its statewide reduction in force list (RIF List). At the time, Chapter 144:65, Laws 2009 (the 2009 Law) governed the rehiring of laid-off state employees. The Department used the RIF List to place qualified laid-off employees into state positions as they became vacant. After petitioner was laid off, a Supervisor III, Labor Grade 23 position became available. According to the Department, no laid-off employees on the RIF List were eligible for the Supervisor III position; therefore, the Department released the position back to DHHS to be filled by an open-recruitment process. Petitioner applied for, and was eventually hired to fill, the Supervisor III position. In August 2012, petitioner requested that the Department restore his previously accumulated and unused sick leave, his prior seniority date, and his leave accrual rates, and that it reinstate his longevity pay. The Department denied the request. Petitioner then filed a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief to require the Department to recognize him as a "recalled employee," rather than as a new hire, and to award him his benefits. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On appeal, the parties disagreed about whether the petitioner was "recalled" or "rehired" into the Supervisor III position. Petitioner argued that, because he "returned to work performing his prior duties with the same employer," there was "no rational reason to find that he was not" recalled and, thus, entitled to the benefits of a recalled employee. The Department argued that petitioner was not recalled because there are "no facts in the record regarding recalling" the petitioner and because he was not hired into the same classification. The parties also disputed the trial court's interpretation of the 2009 Law. The Supreme Court agreed with the Department that petitioner was rehired and not recalled. To be recalled, petitioner would have had to return to a position in the same classification as the position he held prior to his lay off: Operations Officer I, Labor Grade 20, instead of Supervisor III, Labor Grade 23. With such differences, petitioner did not return to the same classification, and, therefore, he was not recalled. With regard to the 2009 Law, the Supreme Court surmised that if the legislature had disagreed with the Department's longstanding interpretation, it could have altered the language of the 2009 Law. Such a change did not occur. Therefore, under the 2009 Law, the Department was not required to rehire laid-off employees from the RIF List into promotions, even if the employees meet the minimum qualifications for the position. Petitioner contended the legislative history of the 2009 Law mandated the opposite conclusion. Because the Supreme Court determined that the 2009 Law did not require the Department to rehire laid-off employees into promotions, it also conclude that the trial court erred in determining that petitioner was entitled to his previously accumulated and unused sick leave, an adjustment of his seniority date, and the other aforementioned benefits. View "Bovaird v. New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services" on Justia Law
Anderson v. Executive Director, New Hampshire Retirement System
Petitioner Scott Anderson appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to respondents, the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) and the State, and denying summary judgment to Anderson and three other petitioners. Anderson was a retired Plaistow police officer who was a member of the NHRS, and the only petitioner who appealed. After retiring, he worked part-time as a police officer in Plaistow, Atkinson, and Hampstead. When he retired, RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV provided that "[p]art-time," for the purposes of employing a NHRS retiree meant, "employment by an [NHRS] employer" of no more than "32 hours in a normal calendar week," or if the work hours in some weeks exceeded thirty-two hours, then no more than "1,300 hours in a calendar year." Anderson understood that provision "to mean [he] could work potentially up to 32 hours per week for Plaistow, up to 32 hours per week for Atkinson, and up to 32 hours per week for Hampstead." In 2012, the legislature amended RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV to provide that "[p]art-time," for the purposes of employing a NHRS retiree, "means employment during a calendar year by one or more employers of the retired member which shall not exceed 32 hours in each normal calendar week," or if the work hours in some weeks exceed thirty-two hours, then no more than 1,300 hours in a calendar year. In August 2012, Anderson and three other NHRS retirees petitioned for declaratory and injunctive relief. Anderson contended that to apply the 2012 amendment to him violated Part I, Article 23 of the New Hampshire Constitution. Specifically, he asserted that, as a result of the 2012 amendment, he would be "restored to service" under RSA 100-A:7 (2013) and, thus, lose his retirement benefits if he worked more than "[p]art-time" as defined in RSA 100-A:1, XXXIV. Under RSA 100-A:7, when a retiree is "restored to service," his "retirement allowance shall cease," and he "shall again become a member of the [NHRS] and . . . shall contribute" to that system. Anderson contended that the 2012 amendment substantially impaired his vested right because its effect is to restore him to service if he works more than thirty-two hours per week or 1,300 hours per year for any combination of NHRS employers, even if he did not work full-time hours for any single NHRS employer. Thereafter, the petitioners moved for summary judgment, and the State cross-moved for summary judgment. The trial court ruled in the State's favor, and Anderson's appeal followed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Anderson v. Executive Director, New Hampshire Retirement System" on Justia Law
White v. John et al.
The State Comptroller, Thomas L. White, Jr., appealed a preliminary injunction entered in response to an action for declaratory and injunctive relief brought by Karen John, the Alabama Education Association ("the AEA"), Randy Hebson, and the Alabama State Employees Association ("the ASEA"). This was the third time a case involving the question of deductions by the comptroller from a State employee's salary for payment of contributions and dues has come before the Supreme Court in recent months. The comptroller executed payroll deductions for dues from State employees who were members of the AEA and the ASEA. On June 29, 2012, the comptroller issued a "memorandum" to "Affected Organizations" regarding "Act 2010-761 Guidelines (State Comptroller Payroll Deductions, Revised June 2012)." The memorandum also contained a sample "Act 2010-761 Certification Form for Organizations:" if the organization wanted to receive salary deductions from State employees, the form required an individual from the organization to provide a notarized signature and to certify under penalty of being barred from receiving deductions that the organization would "not use any portion of the membership dues collected by payroll deduction from the pay of its members who are State employees for political activity as that term is defined in [the Act]" and that the organization would "provide to the State Comptroller a detailed breakdown of the expenditure of those membership dues not later than the deadline, and using the forms, prescribed by the Comptroller from time to time." The comptroller sent copies of the memorandum to the AEA, the ASEA, and other organizations that were receiving dues from State-employee members via salary deductions. The ASEA submitted its certification to the comptroller, along with a letter from its counsel, stating, in part, that the organization submitted the certification "under protest and without waiving any of its rights as they relate to any ongoing litigation concerning [the Act], or related to the rules and regulations promulgated in your 'Memorandum to Affected Organizations.'" The AEA declined to submit a certification form and thus was deemed ineligible to receive dues via payroll deductions. On August 17, 2012, the AEA, AEA member and State employee Karen John, the ASEA, and ASEA president Randy Hebson sued White in his official capacity as comptroller and the "Office of the State Comptroller" seeking a judgment declaring that the guidelines were void because they had been promulgated without following the procedures required in the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act. The Supreme Court reversed: plaintiffs' action was "due to be dismissed"insofar as it purported to name "the Office of the State Comptroller" as a defendant, and the circuit court was instructed to dismiss the action in that regard. Furthermore, the Court found the circuit court erred in issuing the injunction as plaintiffs did not meet their burden for injunctive relief. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "White v. John et al. " on Justia Law
Jasper Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Cooper
Anita Cooper, who was employed as principal of the Oark, Arkansas schools, was removed from her duties as principal. The Superintendent of the Jasper School District No. 1 of Newton County listed nine reasons as bases for the termination. The District’s Board of Directors then terminated Cooper’s employment. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision, reinstated Cooper to her position, and awarded Cooper $64,998 in damages. The Superintendent and District appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in finding that Defendants failed to comply with the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the contract in the case at bar created a property right in Cooper’s position as principal of the Oark schools; and (3) the circuit court’s award to Cooper was neither excessive nor amounted to an award of “double retirement.” View "Jasper Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Cooper" on Justia Law
Doggett v. Wyo. Dep’t of Workforce Servs., Unemployment Ins. Comm’n
Appellant, an employee of a Harley Davidson service center (Employer), was discharged after working more than five years with Employer. Appellant filed for unemployment benefits. After a hearing, the hearing officer determined that Appellant was not discharged for misconduct connected with his work. The Unemployment Insurance Commission reversed the hearing officer and denied Appellant unemployment compensation benefits, ruling that Appellant was terminated for misconduct. The district court affirmed the Commission. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the decision of the Commission was unsupported by the record. Remanded with direction that benefits should be restored to Appellant.View "Doggett v. Wyo. Dep’t of Workforce Servs., Unemployment Ins. Comm’n" on Justia Law
Sayler v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., Ins. Div.
Petitioner, the owner and president of a Montana corporation, stopped paying himself a salary but continued working. Petitioner applied for and received unemployment benefits but reported to the State of Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) that he worked zero hours per week. When DLI discovered that Petitioner worked fifty hours a week, DLI determined that Petitioner had wrongfully received benefits. DLI ordered Petitioner to repay the overpaid benefits and imposed an administrative penalty. The district court reversed in part, concluding that when Petitioner drew no salary he did not need to report the hours he worked and was eligible to receive benefits. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a corporate officer working full-time without pay for his corporation is engaged in employment under Montana’s Unemployment Insurance Law and is required to report his hours of work when seeking unemployment benefits; and (2) DLI correctly imposed a penalty on Petitioner for misrepresenting the amount of hours he worked.View "Sayler v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., Ins. Div." on Justia Law