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January 16, 2022
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See’s Candies Employee Can Sue for COVID Death, Rules Appeals Court
See’s Candies Employee Can Sue for COVID Death, Rules Appeals Court
San Francisco, CA  A California Appeals Court ruled that a See’s Candies worker can move forward with a labor lawsuit alleging the company’s lax COVID-19 safety protocols caused her husband’s death. The company had argued that it couldn’t be held liable for an injury or illness that a non-employee suffered outside their workplace.

ERISA Lawsuit Against UnitedHealth Subsidiary Gets Class Action Status
ERISA Lawsuit Against UnitedHealth Subsidiary Gets Class Action Status
Madison, WI On December 15, the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin agreed that plaintiffs in a lawsuit against UMR, the benefits administrator for employer-sponsored UnitedHealth insurance plans, could proceed as a class. As many as 1,600 individuals may ultimately be included in ERISA lawsuit. This appears to have weighed heavily in the Court’s decision that Berceanu v. UMR, Inc. could proceed as a class action lawsuit.

Pay Increases in 2022 for California’s Guest Farm Workers
Pay Increases in 2022 for California’s Guest Farm Workers
Sacramento, CA Farmworkers will finally see pay increases in 2022, thanks to winning a California labor lawsuit that will stop the guest farmworkers wage freeze, and also to the USDA’s annual survey results on farm labor.

Flowers Foods Leaves Bad Taste for Distributor Drivers
Flowers Foods Leaves Bad Taste for Distributor Drivers
Santa Clara, CA A California federal judge ruled that Flowers Foods Inc. misclassified its distributor drivers as independent contractors and drivers can go ahead with overtime claims against the second-largest commercial bakery in the US (whose brands include Wonder Bread, Tastykake, Sunbeam, and Nature’s Own). It has a track record of misclassification lawsuits nationwide: in October 2021 the company agreed to pay $20 million to resolve nearly six years of Fair Labor Standards Act litigation involving more than 50 delivery drivers in Maine, and that’s not all. No wonder the cost of bread has gone up – it can’t put all the blame on the pandemic.


Bronson Healthcare to Settle Excessive Fee ERISA Lawsuit
Bronson Healthcare to Settle Excessive Fee ERISA Lawsuit
Kalamazoo, MI Bronson Healthcare and participants in the Bronson Healthcare Group, Inc. 403(b) Tax Sheltered Matching Plan have agreed in principle to settle a proposed class action ERISA lawsuit. The lawsuit focused on the fiduciaries’ decision to include the actively-managed Fidelity Freedom Fund in the plan’s investment portfolio. Details of the proposed settlement have not been disclosed.

Unions and Musicians Poised to Settle Royalty Lawsuit for $8 Million
Unions and Musicians Poised to Settle Royalty Lawsuit for $8 Million
Los Angeles, CA On November 8, the District Court for the Central District of California gave preliminary approval to a proposal that will end a 2018 lawsuit between studio musicians and their unions. Risto v. SAG-AFTRA highlights the difficulties that union and non-union artists face in collecting forms of compensation that are not protected under California labor law, but under the terms of collective bargaining agreements and the bargaining representatives’ duty of fair representation under federal labor law.   

Starbucks Faces Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Starbucks Faces Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Atlanta, GA On November 29, Markel Oden filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Starbucks Corporation, alleging that the coffee giant systematically discriminates against workers protected under both the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Georgia Age Discrimination Act. Starbucks has previously been accused of discriminating against African American workers with attendant unpaid wages claims.

University of Miami to Settle ERISA Lawsuit for $1.85 Million
University of Miami to Settle ERISA Lawsuit for $1.85 Million
Miami, FL  On November 23, the University of Miami and participants in five of its retirement plans agreed to settle proposed class action ERISA lawsuit. The agreement provides for $1.85 million and structural safeguards to protect participants’ retirement savings in the future. The university and the plans' fiduciaries have agreed not to increase current fees for recordkeeping services in the three years after the settlement effective date. As an additional safeguard, the university will also retain an independent fiduciary.

TeamHealth vs. United HealthCare Services
TeamHealth vs. United HealthCare Services
Knoxville, TN UnitedHealthcare claims that TeamHealth has submitted fraudulent claims to the insurer, to the tune of more than $100 million. The ER fees lawsuit claims that the emergency room staffing and billing company has been upcoding—using codes to deceive the insurer into overpaying—since 2016.

Supreme Court Asks Solicitor General for Brief in California Trucking Lawsuit
Supreme Court Asks Solicitor General for Brief in California Trucking Lawsuit
Pasedena, CA On November 15, the U.S. Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to articulate the position of the federal government with respect to California Trucking Association v. Rob Bonta. The Ninth Circuit decision requires California motor freight carriers to treat drivers as employees, rather than independent contractors. A decision to hear the California labor lawsuit may signal that the Supreme Court is open to limiting the reach of California laws intended to protect California workers rights.


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