Friday, May 27, 2011

United States Supreme Court: Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 Not Preempted by Federal Immigration Law

In Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the United States Supreme Court determined that an Arizona law enacted in 2007 that allows Arizona courts to suspend or revoke licenses to do business in Arizona if an employer knowingly or intentionally employs an unauthorized alien and requires all employers in the state to use E-verify was not preempted by federal law.  The Court determined that the plain statutory language of the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, though preempting "State of local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions," specifically permitted sanctions imposed "through licensing and similar laws."  In this case, the Court found that the Arizona act was a licensing regime that was specifically not exempted.  Additionally, it concluded that, although the federal law prohibits the federal government from mandating the use of E-Verify, it does not prohibit states from doing so.  Accordingly, the Court upheld the Arizona law.

Utah Court of Appeals: ALJ Did Not Err When She Refused a Continuance Despite Key Witness Being Seriously Ill in Bed

In InnoSys, Inc. v. DWS, the Utah Court of Appeals upheld an Administrative Law Judge's [ALJ's] determination to grant a discharged employee unemployment insurance.  One of the issues before the court was whether the ALJ had improperly denied a motion for continuance because a witness was confined to bed because of her medical condition.  In Utah, unemployment hearings are generally held telephonically and witness testimony is given over the telephone.  Apparently, in this case, the witness had a serious medical condition that prevented her from meeting with attorneys before the hearing and prevented her from seeing exhibits.  Moreover, during her testimony, she began to suffer side effects from her pain medication, she was distracted by the pain, and that she began bleeding.  The Utah Court of Appeals concluded that the ALJ was not informed of the medical condition and concluded that some of the complaints were unrelated to the medical condition of the witness.  Accordingly, it concluded that the ALJ did not abuse his discretion in refusing to grant a continuance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tenth Circuit: County Employees Have Constitutional Claims When County Failed to Place Employee's Contract on Agenda

In Borde v. Board of County Commissioners, the Tenth Circuit Court upheld a trial court's order denying immunity to County Commissioners for violating former employees' due process rights when, among other things, they failed to put on the agenda of the meeting that they would be considering the employment contract of the employees.  Stating that placing an item on a legislative agenda does not implicate the legislative function, the Court ruled that the commissioners were not entitled to legislative immunity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Utah Court of Appeals: Despite Being Fired for Distributing Pornography, Employee Should Still Be Paid Disability Benefits

In Stampin' Up, Inc. v. Labor Commission, the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the Labor Commission's finding that an employee was entitled to temporary disability benefits after he was fired for distributing pornographic images to other employees.  Reasoning that, because there was no evidence that the employee had not intended his acts to get him fired, the Utah Court of Appeals said that such acts did not disqualify him from receiving benefits under the plain language of the statute.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tenth Circuit: Trainer Truck Driver Required to Disclose HIV Status to Potential Trainees Before Being Allowed to Train not Discriminatory

In EEOC v. C.R. England, Inc., the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a case brought by an HIV-positive truck driver.  The truck driver, who had been hired to train new truck drivers for C.R. England, Inc., disclosed his HIV-positive status to C.R. England.  After doing so, C.R. England prepared a form that any potential trainees would be required to sign before the trainer would be allowed to train the truck driver.  If the trainee did not sign the document, the trainer would not be permitted to train the trainee.  The first trainee presented with the document signed it, and the trainer began training him.  Various issues arose and the trainer ended up heading home in Florida after his request for "home time" was denied. 

The trainer sued, claiming that he was discriminated against when, among other things, CR England provided the disclosure document to the trainee.  The district court granted summary judgment against the trainer, holding that, given the only trainee ever presented with the disclosure document signed it, the trainer's opportunities to train were never actually limited and the trainer suffered no adverse employment action.  The Tenth Circuit agreed, although noting several times that the disclosure document may have the potential to cause adverse employment action to be taken in different circumstances.

The case also involved several other interesting discrimination claims and issues.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tenth Circuit: Utah Anti-Discrimination and Labor Division Did Not Discriminate

In Kline v. Utah Anti-Discrimination and Labor Division, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a Utah District Court's ruling that the Utah Anti-Discrimination and Labor Division (UALD)---the agency charged with investigating claims of discrimination in Utah---did not illegally discriminate against one of its former discrimination investigators.  Concluding that the UALD acted appropriately under the circumstances, the Tenth Circuit agreed that the plaintiff had not alleged an actionable claim of discrimination even though the investigator claimed that she was treated harshly and was singled out for poor treatment.  The court agreed that the district court had properly concluded that the treatment was not because of the investigator's sex but because of her performance.