Employer Law Report

Tag Archives: class action

Sixth Circuit holds contract clause to arbitrate future claims does not apply to past claims

In Russell v. Citigroup, Inc. the Sixth Circuit held that an agreement to arbitrate “all employment-related disputes” with the company does not include cases already pending in court when the employee signed the arbitration agreement.

Background

From 2004 to 2009, Keith Russell worked at Citicorp’s call center in Florence, Kentucky. As a condition of employment, he signed an arbitration agreement, which covered individual claims but not class actions. In January 2012, Russell filed a class action against the company claiming wage/hour violations. Because the arbitration agreement did not extend to class actions, Citicorp did not seek to arbitrate the class …

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Knocks Down NLRB Decision: And, in Doing So, Supports Employer Effort to Avoid Class Action Claims

One of the most significant risks to business in recent years has been the proliferation of class action employment-related lawsuits. Class action claims have been especially popular with plaintiff’s lawyers pursuing federal Fair Labor Standards Act wage claims. A class action lawsuit can mean huge costs for defense and damages. Some employers have attempted to manage the risk by having employees sign agreements requiring that they pursue employment law claims against the company in arbitration, rather than in court. Sometimes employers include in the arbitration agreement a specific waiver of the right to pursue class action claims in court or …

The Sixth Circuit And Ohio Supreme Court Hand Two Major Class Action Wins To Defendants

On November 5, 2013, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Ohio Supreme Court handed down a pair of class action decisions that are major wins for companies and employers. The Sixth Circuit held that courts, not arbitrators, must decide whether an arbitration clause permits classwide arbitrations—and that an arbitration clause that is silent on the issue bars classwide arbitrations. The Ohio Supreme Court followed recent decisions from the United States Supreme Court and held that trial courts must conduct a rigorous analysis when ruling on class certification, including resolution of factual disputes, factual findings and an examination of the …

United States Supreme Court Delivers Major Win for Employers – Once Again Raising the Bar for Certifying Class Actions

A bitterly divided United States Supreme Court last week added even more height to the barriers facing plaintiffs who seek to certify their claims as class actions. In Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, No. 11-864, a 5-4 decision penned by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that a district court improperly certified a mammoth class action covering more than two million current and former subscribers of Comcast who claimed to have paid inflated cable bills based upon Comcast’s violation of federal antitrust laws. The decision is particularly notable for its holding that plaintiffs seeking to certify class actions for money …

Employers, Protect Yourself From Class or Collective Actions: New and Developing Case Law is Giving Employers a Number of Proactive Defensive Measures

All too often it seems employers are entirely unaware of the steps they can take to proactively protect themselves from employment litigation. Instead, employers and their attorneys do not address potential issues until litigation has actually been threatened or filed, by which time preventative measures have likely become a moot point. Yet, the law is providing more and more innovative opportunities to strategically protect an employer in ways much cheaper than actual litigation. This protection can reduce an employer’s potential monetary exposure for labor and employment matters by either minimizing litigation or by placing an employer in a position of …

Big Win For Employers – Supreme Court Closes Loophole Used By Plaintiffs’ Lawyers To Defeat Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Class Actions

In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, the United States Supreme Court last week closed a loophole in the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) that had been used by plaintiffs’ lawyers to avoid removal of class actions to federal court. Specifically, the Court held that plaintiffs in class actions cannot stipulate to a recovery of less than $5 million in order to avoid meeting CAFA’s amount-in-controversy requirement.

Under CAFA, enacted in 2005, federal courts have original jurisdiction over class actions in which, among other things, the aggregated value of the claims of individual class members exceeds $5 million. …

Supreme Court Time Travels with an ERISA Case

Supreme Court decisions about ERISA cases, while infrequent, typically contain some surprises, as demonstrated most recently in CIGNA Corp. v. Amara.

In 1997, CIGNA notified employees that it was freezing accruals under its traditional defined benefit plan, and converting the plan into a cash balance plan. A cash balance plan is a "hybrid" defined benefit plan with features similar to a defined contribution plan. The method for determining accruals under the cash balance plan is different from the method under the traditional defined benefit plan, and in many cases takes into consideration the benefits already accrued under the traditional …

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