The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over much of the western United States (including Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho), ruled last week that an employee’s temporary impairment can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Ninth Circuit’s decision resolves an important
On Tuesday, August 20, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case entitled Murray v. Mayo Clinic, joined four other Circuit Courts of Appeal in holding that a “but for” causation standard applies in ADA discrimination claims. This standard is considered to make it more difficult for employees to prove discrimination claims than…
A November 27, 2013 opinion from the Idaho Supreme Court reinstated a former Assistant Vice Principal’s claim seeking damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress. This decision highlights that allegedly harassing workplace comments may subject employers to liability even though e the complaining employee cannot make out a traditional sexual harassment claim.
In Frogley v. Meridian Joint School Dist., 2013 opinion No. 124, the employee claimed that he had been the victim of sexual harassment based upon sexually-charged comments to and about him. Mr. Frogley claimed that the behavior continued despite making known that the behavior was offensive. The complaints came at approximately the same time his superiors began to question his work performance.
All of the claims, including sexual harassment under federal and state law, were dismissed before they were allowed to proceed to trial. The Supreme Court’s opinion does not detail the reason for the lower court’s decision in that regard and the employee chose not to appeal dismissal of the sexual harassment theories; pursuing instead his claims for retaliation and negligent infliction of emotional distress.Continue Reading No Harassment, No Problem: Idaho Court Holds Harassing Comments May Still Support Liability for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
On June 29, 2011, the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously upheld a district court ruling that a state worker could not maintain an action against her employer for wrongful discharge based on allegations that her supervisor’s intra-office romance and consequent favoritism toward his paramour created a hostile work environment. See Patterson v. State of Idaho Dep’t …
On the final day of the sixty-first Legislature, Idaho lawmakers passed a bill which provides varying levels of tax credits for private employers who hire at least one employee after April 15, 2011. Governor Otter signed the legislation amending Idaho Code section 63-3029F on April 13.
In order to qualify for the credit, a…
Never shy about taking on unions, especially in a state where organized labor enjoys little support outside the government sector, the Idaho Legislature recently introduced a pair of bills for addition to the state’s existing Right to Work statute.
Senate Bill 1007, named the “Fairness in Contracting Act,” is intended to “promote fairness in…
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently limited the remedies available to employees who sue for retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ruling that the statute does not provide for punitive damages, compensatory damages or a jury trial in ADA retaliation cases. Click here to read the decision in Alvarado v. Cajun Operating Co.
Mr. Alvarado worked as a cook in defendant’s restaurant. He complained after his supervisor made allegedly discriminatory remarks related to his age and disability, and shortly afterward he received several disciplinary write-ups for poor performance. After Mr. Alvarado was ultimately terminated, he sued his former employer for, among other things, retaliation under the ADA. Prior to trial, the federal district court granted defendant’s motion in limine, barring plaintiff from seeking punitive and compensatory damages, and a jury trial, on his ADA retaliation claim on the grounds that the statute provided only equitable relief for such claims.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling by holding that the plain, unambiguous language of the ADA remedy provisions specifically enumerate only those sections of the act for which compensatory and punitive damages (and a jury trial) are available, and that the ADA anti-retaliation provision is not included in that list. Somewhat surprisingly considering the laws at issue have been on the books since 1991, the Ninth Circuit appears to be only the third Circuit Court of Appeals to have been presented with the issue, after the Seventh and Fourth Circuits (which reached similar conclusions). The court also noted that several district courts in other circuits had reached the opposite conclusion (perhaps most surprising of all), by ignoring the text of the remedy provision and instead emphasizing the overall structure of the ADA and the “expansive” intent of the 1991 amendments.
For now, the law in the Ninth Circuit on this question is clear: while still entitled to compensatory or punitive damages in disability discrimination or failure to accommodate claims under the ADA, employees may not receive those damages for ADA retaliation claims.Continue Reading 9th Circuit: No Compensatory or Punitive Damages in ADA Retaliation Cases
Are you looking for ways to hang on to staff, yet reduce costs? Those goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive if you choose to participate in your state’s workshare program. A workshare program allows your employees to collect some unemployment benefits but continue working part time. Here’s an article from the Center for Law and Social Policy that gives additional detail.
Seventeen states have such programs: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington. For a sample of a workshare law, see Section 1279.5 of California’s unemployment insurance code.
Each state’s program is a little different, but they have common attributes. We’ll use Oregon’s program as an example. Continue Reading Use Workshare Program to Cut Costs and Keep Workers
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that an Idaho law banning local government employers from allowing payroll deductions for political activities does not violate unions’ First Amendment free speech rights. You can download the opinion here: Ysursa v. Pocatello Ed. Ass’n, U.S., No. 07-869, 2/24/09).
The Idaho Voluntary Contributions Act, enacted in…
The U.S. Supreme Court opened its 2008-2009 term on October 6 with six labor and employment law cases on its docket. (For docket information and questions presented, click on the name of the case).
- Locke v. Karass: may a public employee union may charge nonmembers for representational costs for litigation expenses incurred by the international union