Our quarterly report discusses new developments in class action litigation and offers strategic guidance and tactical tips on how to defend such claims.
Articles Discussing Employment Law Class Actions
In one of the most significant Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) appellate decisions in recent years, on February 21, 2019, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously held that “district courts may not send notice to an employee with a valid arbitration agreement unless the record shows that nothing in the agreement would prohibit that employee from participating in the collective action.” The Fifth Circuit’s decision in In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 18-20825 (5th Cir.) represents the first U.S. Court of Appeals to address this important issue related to the issuance of notice in FLSA collective actions where a portion of the proposed collective is subject to an arbitration agreement.
A disclosure form that included other, state-mandated disclosure information violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) standalone document requirement, the Ninth Circuit held. Gilberg v. Cal. Check Cashing Stores, LLC, No. 17-16263 (9th Cir. Jan. 29, 2019). In doing so, the Ninth Circuit relied on Syed v. M-I, LLC, 853 F.3d 492 (9th Cir. 2017), where the Court held the plain language of the FCRA requires that the disclosure be “in a document that consists solely of the disclosure,” and that a disclosure form which included a liability waiver in the same document violated the “standalone document requirement.”
Finding that the case involved “actions perpetuated by one individual against another individual in an isolated environment, not conduct in a common environment directed against several women at once,” Chief Judge Leonard Strand decertified a class of female truck drivers that alleged they were subject to a hostile work environment. Sellers v. CRST Expedited, Inc., No. C15-117-LTS (N.D. Iowa Jan. 15, 2019).
A three-judge panel of the Third Circuit has struck down U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab’s decision granting class certification in a suit brought by mortgage loan officers claiming they were denied overtime pay by their employer. Reinig v. RBS Citizens, NA, No. 17-3464 (3d Cir. Dec. 31, 2018).
On the last day of the year, we take a look back at some highlights and our most-read employment class action articles of 2018.
Below is a link to the latest issue of the Jackson Lewis Class Action Trends Report. This report is published on a quarterly basis by our firm’s class action practice group in conjunction with Wolters Kluwer. We hope you will find this issue to be informative and insightful. Using our considerable experience in defending hundreds of class actions over the last few years alone, we have generated another comprehensive, informative and timely piece with practice insights and tactical tips to consider concerning employment law class actions. We hope you enjoy!
Our quarterly report discusses new developments in class action litigation and offers strategic guidance and tactical tips on how to defend such claims. This issue covers the following topics:
On October 29, 2018, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela. At issue in Lamps Plus is what standard should be applied in determining whether parties have agreed to submit claims to class arbitration. The arbitration agreement between Lamps Plus and one of its employees did not contain an explicit waiver prohibiting arbitration of class or collective claims. The Ninth Circuit held that the arbitration agreement was ambiguous as to whether the parties agreed to submit class claims to arbitration. The Court applied a California contract-law principle that any ambiguity is to be construed against the drafter, and therefore held that the arbitration agreement permitted arbitration of the employee’s class claims.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just denied a request to review en banc a panel ruling that authorizes trial courts to consider evidence that would be inadmissible at trial when deciding whether a class may be certified (Sali v. Corona Regional Medical Center (D.C. No. 5:14-cv-00985-PSG-JPR)). The decision was filed on Thursday, November 1 over a sharply critical dissenting opinion authored by Judge Carlos Bea. Bea, who was joined by four of his colleagues, wrote that the majority’s decision “involves a question of exceptional importance and is plainly wrong.”
In O’Connor v. Uber Techs., Inc., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27343 (9th Cir. 2018), a unanimous panel in the Ninth Circuit found that Uber’s arbitration agreements did not violate the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (“NLRA”) and the question of arbitrability was designated to the arbitrator. The ruling provided a major victory to Uber, requiring each plaintiff to separately arbitrate his or her claims.
An Illinois District Court recently denied certification of a class of female physicians claiming that their employer’s pay practices unlawfully discriminated against women in violation of Title VII, the Illinois Equal Pay Act, and the Illinois Civil Rights Act (Ahad v. Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University).
A California federal judge recently certified a class of at least 843 Cinemark workers who allege Cinemark, a movie theater chain, failed to properly list overtime rates on employee wage statements, notwithstanding the fact that the purported class representative, Silken Brown, had settled her individual claim during the pending litigation. In opposing class certification, Cinemark raised challenges to Brown’s typicality as to the class and adequacy to represent the class as a result of Brown’s individual settlement.
In a natural extension of the Supreme Court’s recent conclusion that the NLRA does not preclude the use of class or collective action waivers in employment-related arbitration agreements, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed that such waivers are likewise permitted under the FLSA. Gaffers v. Kelly Services, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22613 (6th Cir. Aug. 15, 2018). In so holding, the Sixth Circuit followed the lead of the Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis, 138 S. Ct. 1612 (2018). The Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The U.S Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently vacated a Utah district court’s finding that a class of truckers satisfied Rule 23 for purposes of settling two wage-hour actions due to a cursory review below, setting aside a multi-million dollar settlement and remanding the case for further proceedings.