Posts Tagged ‘retaliation’

Time to revisit the Chevron stretch

A case called Digital Realty Trust v. Somers gives the Supreme Court a chance to rein in a particularly inappropriate use of the Chevron doctrine, under which courts give deference to agencies’ interpretations of law [Ilya Shapiro, Harvard Law Review blog]

The last few years have of course seen renewed attention — academic, judicial, and journalistic — to the question of whether courts have become altogether too deferential to executive agencies. While Chevron deference (and its cousins, Auer and Seminole Rock deference) was originally justified as a necessary tool for preventing courts from unduly meddling in administrative decisionmaking, hasn’t the pendulum swung too far?…

As the Supreme Court explained in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke in 2007, the APA [Administrative Procedure Act] requires an agency conducting notice-and-comment rulemaking to provide the public with “fair notice” of what will be, or might be, included in its final regulation. Yet there was nothing in the [Securities and Exchange Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] that would have given any notice to the public that it was going to change whom Dodd-Frank would protect from retaliation.

Just last year, the Court reaffirmed in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro that procedurally deficient rules that violate the APA do not receive Chevron deference because they lack the “force of law.” The SEC regulation here was procedurally deficient because of the final rule’s fair-notice problem, so it shouldn’t qualify for Chevron.

More on the Somers case and Cato’s amicus brief: Trevor Burrus and Frank Garrison.

Labor and employment roundup

Employee caught vacationing while on medical leave can sue over firing

Jon Hyman on the Eleventh Circuit case of Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care:

Suppose you have an employee who takes FMLA leave for rotator-cuff surgery. Let’s say during said FMLA leave, you discover that the employee is vacationing on a Caribbean island. And, further suppose that you discover this employee’s island vacay via his own public Facebook posts, which included photos of him on the beach, posing by a boat wreck, and in the ocean. Or, more accurately the employee’s co-workers saw the photos and ratted him out to management.

So, what do you do?

Fire the employee for abusing and/or misusing FMLA leave by engaging in activities (verified by pictures posted on his Facebook page) that demonstrated his ability to return to work earlier than the end of the FMLA leave.

Tread lightly, however, before making that decision, for in Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that based on these same facts, Rodney Jones was entitled to a jury trial on his FMLA retaliation claim….

Full story here.

Labor and employment roundup

  • “This One Simple Trick — Used by Colin Kaepernick — Will Make It Harder To Fire You” [Coyote] And on the topic of retaliation, Obama administration appointeees have been revising doctrine in a direction sharply unfavorable to employers both at the EEOC and at OSHA, the latter of which has legal authority to enforce the retaliation provisions of many laws like Dodd-Frank unrelated to conventional occupational hazard [Jon Hyman on EEOC and OSHA]
  • In $5 million award, Texas jury finds SEIU playbook on janitors’ campaign encouraged lawbreaking disruption of target business and its clients [Jon Cassidy and Charles Blain, WSJ]
  • Obama administration’s new blacklisting rule on labor violations gives unions a whip hand in negotiations with federal contractors, as if by design [Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber]
  • Finally, a state appellate court pokes a hole in the bizarre California Rule under which public employers may not reduce future pension benefits even when based on work not yet performed [Dan Walters/Sacramento Bee, Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • Hearing over expanding employment-law damages in Colorado highlights shift in EEO law toward goal of money extraction [Merrily Archer]
  • Post-Friedrichs, the future of mandatory union dues in public employment [Federalist Society podcast with Scott Kronland and William Messenger] “Big Labor Tries To Eliminate Right-To-Work By Lawsuit” [George Leef]

“Ohio Supreme Court sides with workers’ comp fraud”

“The employer fired Onderko for his ‘deceptive’ attempt to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for a non-work-related injury. He injured his knee while pumping gas on his way home from work, and falsely tried to claim that the gas-pump injury was an exacerbation of an earlier work injury.” In a decision with only one dissent, the Ohio Supreme Court has now held that the genuineness of the injury was irrelevant to his ability to sue for being fired over it: “It no longer matters whether the workers’ compensation injury underlying a retaliation claim is legitimate or illegitimate, or the employee filing such a claim is truthful or a perpetrator of a fraud.” [Jon Hyman]

Cutting employee hours to avoid ObamaCare mandate = “retaliation”

The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, sometimes gives employers an incentive to reduce the work hours of employees so that they will not meet eligibility thresholds for costly health insurance. Lawyers for employees have responded by arguing that this reduction of hours constitutes “retaliation” under ERISA and is itself unlawful. Now a Southern District of New York federal court seems to have bought the theory, at least to the extent to denying a defense motion to dismiss. [R. Pepper Crutcher, Balch & Bingham on Marin v. Dave & Buster’s, Inc.]

UMW and Yik Yak: they call it Title IX retaliation

After the Feminist Majority Foundation promoted a Title IX complaint against the University of Mary Washington, primarily based on the public Virginia university’s failure to crack down harder on student use of the independent Yik Yak social media gossip platform, UMW President Richard Hurley in June wrote an unapologetic letter crisply refuting many of the group’s contentions. What do you think happened next? Sponsors amended their complaint to allege that Hurley’s letter itself constituted unlawful retaliation against persons invoking Title IX protection. “The [U.S. Department of Education’s] Office for Civil Rights announced its intent to investigate the university this month.” And now a group of 72 women’s and civil rights organizations, including the respectable American Association of University Women and Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, have “announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak.” [Eugene Volokh; Hans Bader; Chronicle of Higher Education; Fredericksburg, Va. Free Lance-Star (Hurley letter)] One thing’s for sure, someone is retaliating against something.

More: Eugene Volokh is out with a don’t-miss followup post analyzing the FMF complaints in much more depth, and noting that Hurley is being charged with retaliation for “engaging in normal public debate”:

Readers might recall the recent attempt to use Title IX to shut down critical speech as retaliation, in the Northwestern University / Prof. Laura Kipnis controversy…. This complaint is yet another such attempt.

The Feminist Majority Foundation, though a publisher of a magazine [Ms.], doesn’t seem to care much about the First Amendment rights of students, or of accused university officials. Its complaint goes far beyond constitutionally unprotected and rightly punishable speech, such as true threats of violence.

Instead, it faults the university for not stopping criticism of feminist arguments and feminist arguers, whether vulgar criticism or other criticism. It faults the university for speaking out, without vulgarities or epithets, in its own defense. And the premise of the complaint thus seems to be that one side of a debate has the right to speak — to condemn and to accuse — but the federal government should step in to stop the other side from responding.

Labor and employment roundup

  • Loosen constraints on local and state deviation from the NLRA labor law model? Idea gathering force on right also draws some interest from left [Ben Sachs, On Labor, on James Sherk/Andrew Kloster proposal for right to work laws at city/county level]
  • Justice Alito dissents from Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Kalamazoo “employee buyer’s regret” case where asked-for transfer was later construed as retaliation [Jon Hyman]
  • NLRB’s franchise power grab could prove costly to small business [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Connor Wolf]
  • A very different country: Supreme Court of Canada constitutionalizes a right of public employees to strike [On Labor]
  • Average full-time California municipal employee got 2013 compensation package of nearly $121,000 [Steven Greenhut]
  • Perfect, now let’s mandate sick day banking nationwide: “Montgomery [County] fire department has history of sick-day abuse among workers due to retire” [Washington Post]
  • Yet more unilateralism: Obama administration tightens regs on federal contractor sex discrimination [Roger Clegg]