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California Labor Lawsuit Involving Workers at LAX can Move Forward

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Los Angeles, CAA California labor lawsuit that was tossed by a district court but revived by an appellate court, can move forward following a ruling by the Ninth Circuit. The appellate court refused to revisit its original ruling in September to re-instate an action filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its workers at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The original lawsuit, inferring violations to California labor law, stemmed from an alleged attempt by the defendant, Aviation Safeguards, to oust the union as the designated representative for it skycap and porter employees at Los Angeles International (LAX).

According to court documents associated with the California labor lawsuit, a majority of the employees organized and joined the SEIU in 2007. The defendant duly recognized the union at the time, and a collective bargaining agreement was put into place.

However five years later things had soured, with the union and a collection of employees filing a California labor lawsuit against the employer alleging violations to the California labor code and the federal Railway Labor Act. Aviation Standards is alleged to have summarily terminated the collective bargaining agreement.

The original California labor employment law litigation was filed with the district court in July, 2012. That court granted summary judgement to the defendant, noting that claims under the Railway Act are required to be brought within six months.

The plaintiff countered that under the Railway Labor Act, various remedies were required in advance of litigation, including mediation. Plaintiffs went through the required process and protocol under the auspices of the Railway Labor Act. When agreement could not be reached, the union and its members turned to the courts. By then the six-month window had passed.

Based on the foregoing, in addition to perceived jurisdictional issues, the lower court ruled for the defendant and granted summary judgement.

SEIU appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which reversed the lower court’s ruling, noting that statutes of limitations are “meant to ensure fairness to defendants by giving them timely notice of the claims against them.” The appellate panel also noted that the defendant had been made aware of concerns by the union long before the SEIU filed its lawsuit under California and labor law.

A three-judge panel in September reversed the lower court’s ruling. The defendant asked for rehearing en banc, based on its assertion that the appellate ruling proved contrary to the previous decisions of other appellate courts.

In the end, the Ninth Circuit refused to grant the rehearing in the California labor employment law dispute, sealing the deal for the California labor lawsuit to move forward.

The case is Marlene Herrera, et al v. Command Security Corp., Case No. 14-55525, in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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