Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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In this workers’ compensation case, the Supreme Court affirmed the compensation court’s findings that Plaintiff was entitled to benefits and that the court did not have jurisdiction to resolve issues regarding a third-party settlement but reversed the compensation court’s denial of Plaintiff’s request that she be awarded penalties, attorney fees, and interest. Plaintiff was driving a school bus when the bus was struck by a drunk driver, injuring Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s employer (Employer) paid workers’ compensation benefits for a time but refused to pay benefits when Plaintiff asserted that she was permanently disabled as a result of her injuries. The workers’ compensation court concluded (1) Plaintiff was entitled to additional benefits; (2) the court did not have jurisdiction to grant relief requested by Employer concerning a settlement that Plaintiff entered into with the third party who caused her injuries; and (3) Plaintiff was not entitled to penalties, attorney fees, and interest. The Supreme Court held that the compensation court (1) correctly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to resolve disputes related to Plaintiff’s settlement with the third-party tortfeasor; (2) correctly found that Plaintiff was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits; but (3) was clearly wrong in denying Plaintiff penalties, attorney fees, and interest because there was no reasonable controversy regarding her entitlement to benefits. View "Gimple v. Student Transportation of America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Court determining that Appellant’s injuries did not “arise out of” his employment, holding that Appellant’s assignment of error on appeal was without merit because he waived his argument by failing to present it to the compensation court. At trial, Appellant argued only that his injury arose out of employment because his fall, which resulted in injuries, resulted from a risk of employment. On appeal, however, Appellant argued that his injury arose out of employment under the “increased-danger” rule. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not commit plain error by not applying the increased-danger rule, and Appellant waived his argument on appeal by failing to present it to the compensation court. View "Maroulakos v. Walmart Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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The recent amendment for finalizing lump-sum settlements under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-139(4) is procedural in nature and therefore applies to this workers’ compensation case, which was pending on appeal when section 48-139 was amended. Employer and Employee reached a lump-sum settlement and filed a verified release with the court using the process set out in section 48-139(3) and (4). Employer did not pay the amounts owed under the statutory deadline, and Employee moved for late payment penalties under section 48-139(4). The Workers’ Compensation Court overruled Employee’s motion and dismissed Employee’s petition with prejudice. While the matter was pending on appeal, the Legislature amended section 48-139 to specifically include a penalty provision for late payments of lump-sum settlements. The Supreme Court vacated the order of dismissal and remanded the cause with directions to award late payment penalties under section 48-139(4), holding that Employee was entitled to a late payment penalty. View "Dragon v. Cheesecake Factory" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in finding that Elizabeth Mays, an exotic dancer with Midnite Dreams, Inc., doing business as Shaker’s, was an employee entitled to compensation under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, and the Wage and Hour Act (WHA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1201 et seq., but the court erred in granting Mays relief under the FLSA and the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (NWPCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1228 et seq. Mays filed a complaint seeking unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorney fees and costs under FLSA and Nebraska law. The trial court determined that Mays was entitled to a full minimum wage rate and that Defendants were jointly and severally liable for $7,586.78 in damages for unpaid wages. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court correctly determined that Mays was an employee entitled to a minimum wage under the WHA, but Mays was entitled to only the minimum wage amount for tipped employees; and (2) the court erred in ruling that Mays was entitled to relief under the FLSA and the NWPCA. View "Mays v. Midnite Dreams, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellant’s wrongful discharge claim on the ground that it was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. Appellant filed a complaint against her former employer, alleging violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and wrongful discharge in violation of Nebraska law and public policy. A federal district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that the claim was governed by the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA) and was not a general state law tort claim for wrongful discharge. Appellant’s title VII claim remained pending in the federal court. Appellant then filed the instant complaint against Defendant in the district court for Lancaster County, alleging wrongful discharge “in violation of Nebraska law and public policy.” The district court dismissed the wrongful discharge claim, concluding that it was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion because the federal district court had already decided the claim on the merits and dismissed it as time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hill v. AMMC, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission of Industrial Relations’ (CIR) denial of Appellant’s petition requesting decertification of the certified collective bargaining agent for the protective service bargaining unit (PSBU) and certification of itself as PSBU’s new collective bargaining agent, holding that the CIR did not err in dismissing the petition as untimely filed. On appeal, Appellant, Nebraska Protective Services Unit, Inc., doing business as Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #88, argued that the CIR erred in finding that it did not timely file its petition under CIR rule 9(II)(C)(1), not ordering an election to be held, and dismissing its petition. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that because Appellant did not file its petition in the period required under rule 9(II)(C)(1), its petition was time barred, and therefore, the CIR did not err in denying Appellant’s request for an election and dismissing the complaint. View "Nebraska Protective Services Unit, Inc. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming a school board’s cancellation of the contract of a certificated employee after holding a formal hearing, thus rejecting the employee’s arguments regarding notice and due process in addition to his challenges to the merits of the cancellation. Specifically, the Court held (1) the school board’s notice regarding a hearing on whether to cancel the employee’s employment contract was proper; (2) the school board’s use of an attorney to preside over the employee’s hearing was not improper; (3) the school board was impartial; (4) the admission of evidence related to the employee’s conduct outside the contract period was admissible; and (5) there was sufficient evidence to support the cancellation of the employee’s contract. View "Robinson v. Morrill County School District #63" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court sustaining Appellant’s motion for summary judgment insofar as it awarded her benefits for two scheduled injuries but denied her claim that she was permanently and totally disabled. The Court held (1) there was no merit to Appellant’s first assignment of error that Appellant’s employer admitted, through its responses to Appellant’s requests for admission, that Appellant was permanently and totally disabled; but (2) the trial court erred in weighing the evidence in the summary judgment matter and concluding that Appellant was not permanently and totally disabled. View "Wynne v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court concluding that the Nebraska Department of Labor’s action intercepting Appellee’s tax refund from the state to partially pay a judgment determining that Appellee had been overpaid for unemployment benefits was barred by the relevant statute of limitations. An appeal tribunal, citing Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-218, concluded that the Department’s action was barred by a four-year statute of limitations. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court held that there was no time limitation barring the Department’s interception of Appellee’s state income tax refund to offset his unemployment benefit overpayment under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-665(1)(c) and therefore reversed. View "McCoy v. Albin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Workers’ Compensation Court awarding an injured employee unspecified vocational rehabilitation. A vocational rehabilitation counselor recommended formal training. A vocational rehabilitation specialist, however, “denied” the proposed plan, concluding that formal training was not reasonable or necessary. The compensation court dismissed Employer’s petition to eliminate the formal training requirement and ordered that Employee was entitled to participate in the proposed vocational rehabilitation plan. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the findings of the compensation court were supported by competent evidence, and the plan would comport with the statutory goal to return the injured employee to “suitable employment.” View "Anderson v. EMCOR Group, Inc." on Justia Law