Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Breaking News! Court Enjoins Obama Executive Order Requiring Disclosure of Labor Law Violations

On July 31, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13673 which requires federal contractors to disclose labor law and employment discrimination violations. This Executive Order also precludes certain contractors from entering into predispute arbitration agreements concerning employment discrimination claims. The Office of Federal Procurement and the Department of Labor in turn issued regulations which were enjoined in Associated Builders and Contractors v. Rung, ___F.Supp. 2d___, 1:16-CV-425 (E.D. Tx. Oct. 24, 2016),  Download ABC PI 10-14-16 This disclosure could result in the contractors being debarred from federal contracts. 

In a lengthly decision, the court preliminary enjoined these regulations as compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment and because they conflicted with Congressional statutory mandates which specified how labor law violations needed to be addressed. The court reasoned in part:

                                Finally, even if federal agencies could properly disqualify government contractors based
                                upon final administrative decisions, arbitration awards, and court orders enforcing one of the
                                fourteen labor laws at issue, the Executive Order and FAR Rule should not be allowed to go into
                                effect because they extend their reach far beyond those limited circumstances. The Order and Rule
                                appear to conflict directly with every one of the labor laws they purport to invoke by permitting
                                disqualification based solely upon “administrative merits determinations” that are nothing more
                                than allegations of fault asserted by agency employees and do not constitute final agency findings
                                of any violation at all. As noted above in the Findings of Fact, agency employees who are
                                assigned to administer these labor laws issue thousands of complaints, cause findings, wage
                                notices, and citations each year, many of which are dismissed or significantly reduced after they
                                are contested, often after lengthy proceedings. There is no statutory basis to treat these
                                “administrative merits determinations” as final and binding while they are still being contested or
                                when they are settled without admission of fault. Thus, it appears to be a denial of fundamental
                                statutory and constitutional rights for the Executive Order and FAR Rule to so act.

Labor laws in this country have been widely criticized for being ineffective. This is an important case because it concerns whether it could regulate who it contracts with. This decision will surely be appealed. Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

October 25, 2016 in Discrimination Law, Labor Law, Law Review Ideas, Legislation, Litigation, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Supremes About To Decide Major IDEA Case Involving Use of Service Dogs In School

The issue in  (Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools) is whether a disabled child’s family must first try to work out with school officials a dispute over the assistance their child needs, before the parents may sue for money damages under federal anti-discrimination law.  The dispute in the case involves a claim by a disabled girl’s family that the school would not allow her to bring a service dog to help her during her classes. 

Law review commentary on the interplay between the IDEA and the ADA as well as exhaustion of administrative remedies would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

October 11, 2016 in Education Law, Law Review Ideas, Special Education Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fired for Being "Too Cute" Does Not State Cause of Action

Sometimes you just cannot make these cases up. After a female  massage therapist was fired by the male owner for being "too cute, " she sued for sex discrimination. Justice Sholom Hagler, a New York lower court judge who I have appeared before, dismissed her case and concluded that under NYS and NYC law, a cause of action was not stated because appearance based discrimination is not gender based and the sex discrimination statutes only protect gender based discrimination.

Not so fast. While the Judge did cite to the majority of authority which supports this fine line distinction, there is also some contrary authority which the Judge did not cite. Most importantly, it seems to me that there is a type of reverse Price Waterhouse sexual sterotype argument.

In Price Waterhouse, it was unlawful to not promote a woman to partnership because she did not act like a woman.  She was simply too macho. Shouldn't the opposite be true? A woman should not be able to be fired for being too pretty. Seems to me this is classic sex sterotyping. It should be unlawful under Title VII and it certainly should be unlawful under NYC law which is required to be broadly interpreted.

Unfortunately, the Judge did not address this issue and I hope this case is appealed. There have been several law review articles written on this topic and additional scholarly writing would be most welcome.

Note, the court also held that a cause of action for defamation was stated. I am not sure of that holding either, but I have not focused on it.

This case got a lot of press when it came out in May, but I just saw it now.  And yes guys, if  you do an internet search, you can find a picture of the plaintiff.

Edwards v. Nicolai, NYLJ May 23, 2016, Index No. 160830/2013 (N.Y. Co. 2016).

Mitchell Rubinstein

 

 

 

August 4, 2016 in Discrimination Law, Interesting Cases, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Major 2d Circuit Decision Discussing Whether Hispanic Ancestry Is A Race Under Title VII and 1981

Village of Freeport v. Barrella, ____F.3d____(2d Cir. 2016), is a major case discussing whether Hispanic ancestry is a race under Title VII or 1981. As the court explained:

Based on longstanding Supreme Court and Second Circuit precedent, we reiterate that “race” includes ethnicity for purposes of § 1981, so that discrimination based on Hispanic ancestry or lack thereof constitutes racial discrimination under that statute. We also hold that “race” should be defined the same way for purposes of Title VII. Accordingly, we reject defendants’ argument that an employer who promotes a white Hispanic candidate over a white non‐Hispanic candidate cannot have engaged in racial discrimination, and we AFFIRM the judgment of the District Court insofar as it denied defendants’ motions for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcomed.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 7, 2016 in Discrimination Law, Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

State Judge Strikes Wisconsin's Right to Work Law

Machinists v. Wisconsin, Case No. 2015CV000628 (Dane Co. April 8, 2016) Download Wisc Order is an important case.  A state trial judge struck down 2015 Wisconsin Act 1 which was known as the right to work law. This statute prohibits labor organizations from assessing dues on non-union members and negotiating union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements. This case is important because it is the only decision which has struck down a right to work statute. Slip op. at 13. 

Applying the Wisconsin Constitution, the court held that this statute resulted in a taking of property without just compensation. The court engaged in an extensive analysis of property rights and concluded that the union had a property interest in the services they perform  for both members and non-members because labor is a commodity that can be bought and sold. 

No doubt this decision will be appealed. Law review commentary would be welcomed. I am stunned that this decision is not reported.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

May 5, 2016 in Law Review Ideas, Recent Developments, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Breaking News California Appellate Court Reverses Vergara Which Held Calif Tenure Statutes Unconstitutional

On April 14, 2016, a California appellate court reversed a lower court decision which declared several California tenure statutes unconstitutional under state law. Download Vergara Court of Appeals Opinion

In a lengthy well-reasoned opinion the court rejected a facial challenge to the statute and reasoned that if poor students were receiving an inferior education it was because of staffing decisions, reasoning:    

                It is possible that the challenged statutes—in the way they pertain to teacher tenure and seniority—lead to a higher                        number of grossly ineffective teachers being in the educational system than a hypothetical alternative statutory scheme             would. This possibility may present a problem with policy, but it does not, in itself, give rise to an equal protection         violation, which requires a classification affecting similarly situated groups in an unequal manner. (Cooley, supra, 29             Cal.4th 228, 253.)

       Assuming that poor and minority students encounter more grossly ineffective teachers and that this impacts their             constitutional right to “basic educational equality” (Butt, supra, 4 Cal.4th 668, 681), the constitutional infringement is the            product of staffing decisions, not the challenged statutes. Even if the statutes were struck down, the harm at issue—the             disproportionate assignment of inferior teachers to poor and minority students—could still occur as before. (Any system             will have some teachers who are not as effective as others.) And, since the challenged statutes, on their face and in effect,           do not dictate where teachers are assigned, declaring the statutes facially unconstitutional would not prevent administrators             from assigning the worst teachers to schools serving poor and minority students.

This case attracted significant media attention, several amicus briefs and copycat cases in other states. This high profile case was backed by former CNN reporter Cambell Brown.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 14, 2016 in Equal Protection, Law Review Ideas, Legislation, Litigation, Public Sector Labor Law, Recent Developments | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kentucky Right To Work Municipal Ordinance Preempted By NLRA

UAW v. Hardin County, ___F. Supp. 2d ___(W.D. Kentucky, Feb. 3, 2016), is an important case.  Download Hardin County Order

A federal court held that a municipal ordinance which mandated right to work and limited union hiring halls and due-checkoff provisions was preempted by the NLRA. The NLRA, of course and most notably in Section 14(b), permits STATES to enact Right to Work laws. 

The decision, which spans 14 pages, is well written and provides a nice summary of the NLRA and existing precedent in this area. As the court explains:

Section 14(b) provides that nothing in the NLRA shall be read to authorize the execution or application of union-security agreements “in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.” 29 U.S.C. § 164(b). As the plaintiffs observe, it makes little sense to read “State or Territorial law” as encompassing local law in light of the statute’s previous reference to “any State or Territory”—if “State or Territorial law” includes the laws of political subdivisions, then the statute must be read “in any State or Territory [or political subdivision thereof]” to avoid assigning two different meanings to “State” in the same sentence. This is not a logical reading; “[a] standard principle of statutory construction provides that identical words and phrases within the same statute should normally be given the same meaning.”

Law review commentary would be most welcome. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

 

 

February 4, 2016 in Labor Law, Law Review Ideas, NLRB, Recent Developments, State Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Exotic Dancers Are Employees

Exotic Island Enterprises v. Commissioner of Labor, ___A.D.3d___ (3rd Dep't. Jan. 14, 2016), raises a whole host of legal questions for which law review commentary is welcome. 

Factually, the court held that exotic dancers are employees for unemployment purposes. Applying the right to control test, the court reasoned:

The corporations challenge the brevity and thoroughness of the investigation by the Department auditor, arguing that it was insufficient to establish that the dancers were employees. However, any evidentiary gaps in the initial investigation were filled through the testimony of Slifstein and the corporations' accountant at the hearing. Slifstein testified that the venues attracted new dancers by placing advertisements in trade magazines and newspapers. Before permitting a dancer to perform at the venues, he would inquire into their prior experience, ask them what schedule they would like, and assess their appearance. If a dancer was not physically fit, he would not permit them to perform at the venues. The dancers were required to provide a driver's license or other form of identification and would not be allowed to dance at the venue if they did not do so. If a dancer lacked experience, he would instruct them to observe a more experienced dancer in order to learn how to "move sexy." Although dancers were not required to report to work at any set time, upon advising the owner of their availability, they would be placed on a nightly schedule posted in the venue for the patrons to view. The venues set the prices that the dancers would charge patrons for private dances and retained a percentage of the money earned. Although the dancers provided their own makeup and costumes, the venue provided the stage for the dancers to perform on, sound equipment and, at times, the music accompanying the dances. The corporations' accountant also testified that the corporations carried workers' compensation coverage for the dancers. Thus, despite other evidence that may have supported a contrary result, we find the Board's decision that the corporations exercised sufficient direction and control over the dancers to be supported by substantial evidence (see Matter of Enjoy the Show Mgt. [Commissioner of Labor], 287 AD2d 822, 822-823 [2001]; see also Matter of Human Performance, Inc. [Commissioner of Labor], 28 AD3d 971, 972 [2006]).

If this is so and a dancer is sexually harassed, can they bring a Title VII case, an OSHA case is their is a safety issue etc. I would think so. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 15, 2016 in Employment Law, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Will Title VII Be Amended To Ban Discrimination Against Gays and Transgender Employees?

The Washington Post published an interesting article on November 11, 2015 stating that the Obama Administration is supporting an amendment to Title VII which would ban discrimination against homosexuals and transgender employees. Here.

Interesting, the Obama administration is not supporting enactment of a separate statute which has been introduced into Congress known as ENDA. I wonder why? I have not studied the differences, if any, between these two Bills. 

As the article points out, for years, LGBT community has been trying to extend the reach of the Supreme Court's Price Waterhouse decision on sexual sex-sterotyping to outlaw this type of employment discrimination. 

Whether as an amendment to Title VII or a free standing statute, enactment of such legislation is the next logical step after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The only question in my mind is whether Congress will go beyond "same sex" discrimination and ban transgender discrimination as well. It is about time that they do.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Hat Tip:

Workplace Prof Blog

 

 

 

November 15, 2015 in Discrimination Law, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Obama Administration Sues School Over Service Dog

A school in upstate New York has been sued by the Department of Justice for refusing to allow a disabled student to bring his service dog to school without a handler provided by the child's family.  An article about this suit can be found here.  A copy of the complaint is here

Law review commentary on the use of service dogs in school would be welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

October 6, 2015 in Discrimination Law, Education Law, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Is it too cold at work? Maybe its because it is a man's world

Chilly at Work, is an interesting August 3, 2015 article from the New York Times. Ever notice how woman always seem cold at work? Well, as the article points out, this may be because air conditioning systems were designed for men. 

Professor Charles Sullivan (Seton Hall Law School) and an editor over at Workplace Prof Blog, an expert in employment discrimination, raises the question whether such a claim could be actionable under Title VII under a disparate impact type theory. He appears very skeptical. 

It seems to me that maybe, just maybe if employees are disciplined or not given certain office assignments because of the temp in the office, maybe there might be something to think about. 

Seems like a perfect law review article.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

August 10, 2015 in Law Professors, Law Review Ideas, Legal Humor, Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chemerinsky on the Uniform Bar Exam

In an LA Times editorial yesterday, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Cal-Irvine Law, urges California to adopt the standardized Uniform Bar Exam.  New York has recently done the same.

Craig Estlinbaum

May 12, 2015 in Bar Association Matters, Law Review Ideas, Law Students, Lawyer Employment, Lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Employee in Process of Getting Divorce Protected From Marital Status Discrimination

In a major ruling, the NJ Appellate Division held that an employee who was going through a divorce stated a cause of action for marital status discrimination. Smith v. Millville, (June 27, 2014). As the court explained:

        "Marital status" necessarily embraces stages preliminary to
        marriage — one's engagement to be married. The term also covers
        stages preliminary to marital dissolution — separation and
        involvement in divorce proceedings. The apparent purpose of the
        ban on marital-status-based discrimination is to shield persons
        from an employer's interference in one of the most personal
        decisions an individual makes — whether to marry, and to remain
        married. 

This is an important issue. Law review commentary on this most important topic would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 1, 2014 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Supremes Decide Harris v. Quinn

The Supreme Court just issued its 5-4 decision in Harris v. Quinn. The Court upholds Abood,  a First Amendment decision which upheld agency fee statutory requirements. However, the court refuses to extend that precedent to the quasi-employees in Harris. Law review commentary would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 30, 2014 in Law Review Ideas, Public Sector Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 16, 2014

California Court Strikes Several Teacher Tenure Statutes

In case you have not seen it, a lower court in California struck down, on constitutional grounds, several provisions involving teacher tenure. Vergara v. California (Calif Superior Court, June 10, 2014). Frankly, I have never seen such a poorly written decision. The decision appears to be drafted by a law student. It is written in conclusionary form and does not contain very much analysis which supports its conclusion. 

Though this appears to be a political, rather than legal decision, it has caused much public debate.

Law review commentary would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 16, 2014 in Law Review Ideas, Public Sector Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Breaking News. Important District Court Decision Concerning Graduate Students

A United States District Court recently held ruled that legislation seeking to
prohibit Graduate Student Research Assistants from forming labor
organizations was invalid because it was adopted in violation of the
Michigan Constitution . The decision will open the door for GSRA in the
State of Michigan to decide if they wish to be represented by a union.

A copy of the decision can be downloaded by clicking  Download Decision

It will be interesting to see what effect this decision may have on the pending NLRB decision concerning the statutus of graduate students under the NLRA.

Mitchell  Rubinstein

February 6, 2014 in Law Review Ideas, NLRB, Public Sector Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

California Admits Undocumented Alien To The Bar

An interesting NYLJ article about California admitting an undocumented alien to the bar can be found here.  Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcome.

Mitch Rubinstein

February 4, 2014 in Law Review Ideas, Lawyer Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 4, 2013

7th Issues A Major Decision Concerning Union Release Time

7thCir

In Titan Tire Corp. v. United Steel Workers (Nov. 1, 2013), the Seventh Circuit held that an arbitration award requiring the company to honor a contract provision requiring the payment of the full-time union salaries of covered employees who took leave to hold local union office was void as against public policy because it required payments that violate LMRA § 302.  Expressly disagreeing with the Third Circuit's decision in Caterpillar, Inv. v. UAW, 107 F.3d 1052 (3d Cir. 1997), the Seventh Circuit concluded that the level of compensation paid to the local officers under the terms of the collectively bargained union leave provision was so incommensurate with the officers' former employment at Titan as to not come within the 302(c)(1) for payments made "by reason of" former employment.  Chief Judge Wood, joined by two other circuit judges, dissented from denial of rehearing en banc.

A copy of the decision is available to be downloaded by clicking  Download Titan Tire v. United Steel Workers

This decision is 49 pages long and full of cites. Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcome.

 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 4, 2013 in Law Review Ideas, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Discrimination and Criminal Background Checks

EEOC v Freeman, ____F.Supp.2d ____(D. Maryland August 9, 2013) is an important case. In a well written decision, the court rejects the EEOC claim that an employer violated Title VII by refusing to hire a minority applicant after a criminal background check was performed. 

This case contains an excellent review of disparate impact and was very critical of the statistical experts retained by the EEOC.

Law review commentary on this important issue would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 29, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Victimless Sexual Harassment

Professor Charles Sullivan (Seton Hall) wrote an interesting blog posting on victimless sexual harassment where the harasser degrades woman in general, but not a particular individual. He cites to a NJ Supreme Court decision which found this conduct actionable. 

Law review commentary would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 2, 2013 in Employment Discrimination, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)