Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

by
At issue was whether a teacher in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system is protected by the Maryland State Whistleblower Protection Law (WBL), Md. Code State Pers. & Pens. 5-301-314. Petitioner filed a WBL complaint against MCPS, arguing (1) teachers employed by the county school board are embraced within the WBL because the county school board is a unit of the executive branch of State government, and (2) MCPS should be estopped from asserting that it is not a State agency because it had asserted in other contexts State agency status. The court of appeals concluded (1) the WBL does not apply to public school teachers employed by county boards of education because they are not employees of the executive branch, and (2) an entity may qualify as a State agency for some purposes while being classified as a local agency for other purposes. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the county board of education is not a State agency for purposes of the WBL, and WBL protection does not otherwise extend to public school teachers; and (2) judicial estoppel has no role in this case because the appropriate designation of a county school board as either a State or local agency depends on the context of the board’s particular authority or function. View "Donlon v. Montgomery County Public Schools" on Justia Law

by
In this dispute over constitutional limits on the governor’s power to make recess appointments, the Court of Appeals held that a provision in the state budget bill passed by the general assembly that precluded two gubernatorial appointees from being paid a salary exceeded the authority of the legislature was was invalid and unenforceable. In 2016, the governor appointed the two appointees as secretaries for two departments. The governor withdrew his nomination of the appointees during the 2017 legislation session but later reappointed the two secretaries. Anticipating that prospect, the general assembly passed a provision in the state budget bill forbidding payments to administration appointees who were nominated but not confirmed by the Maryland Senate. The cabinet secretaries filed suit demanding pay for their work. The circuit judge ruled that the governor had the authority to make the two recess appointments and ordered the treasurer to pay the cabinet secretaries. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for entry of a declaratory judgment declaring that the appointees were entitled to be paid the salaries set forth in the fiscal year 2018 budget for the times they served as secretaries of their respective departments and for entry of an order enjoining the state from interfering with the payment of those salaries. View "Kopp v. Schrader" on Justia Law

by
In this workers’ compensation case, the Court of Appeals clarified an exception to the "going and coming rule" - the special mission or errand doctrine. Employee, who was employed by Montgomery County, was injured in a car accident while driving from her home to a mandatory work training on a Saturday, which was normally her day off. The Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded compensation, finding that Employee’s injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The County sought judicial review, arguing that the going and coming rule prohibited recovery because accidental injuries sustained while going to or coming from work do not ordinarily arise out of and in the course of employment, and none of the exceptions to the rule applied. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the County. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the going and coming rule, rather than the traveling employee doctrine, controlled Plaintiff’s case; but (2) the undisputed facts permitted a reasonable conclusion that the special mission exception to the going and coming rule applied in this case. View "Calvo v. Montgomery County, Maryland" on Justia Law

by
In this workers’ compensation case, the Court of Appeals clarified an exception to the "going and coming rule" - the special mission or errand doctrine. Employee, who was employed by Montgomery County, was injured in a car accident while driving from her home to a mandatory work training on a Saturday, which was normally her day off. The Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded compensation, finding that Employee’s injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The County sought judicial review, arguing that the going and coming rule prohibited recovery because accidental injuries sustained while going to or coming from work do not ordinarily arise out of and in the course of employment, and none of the exceptions to the rule applied. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the County. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the going and coming rule, rather than the traveling employee doctrine, controlled Plaintiff’s case; but (2) the undisputed facts permitted a reasonable conclusion that the special mission exception to the going and coming rule applied in this case. View "Calvo v. Montgomery County, Maryland" on Justia Law

by
At issue was what findings a court must make in order to require attorney’s fees to be paid to an adverse party who was subjected to proceedings that were brought in bad faith or lacked substantial justification and what the appropriate means are for calculating attorney’s fees when a court determines that a party’s complaint includes claims that have substantial justification and claims that lack substantial justification. Respondents prevailed in having the trial judge dispose of Petitioner’s claims after the close of the evidence. The hearing judge found no substantial justification for each of Petitioner’s claims against Respondents and awarded $300,000 in attorney’s fees to Respondents. The court of special appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment, concluding that there was substantial justification as to some of Petitioner’s claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing judge (1) did not commit clear error in finding no substantial justification for the claims brought by Petitioner; but (2) abused his discretion in assessing $300,000 in attorney’s fees against Petitioner without articulating how he calculated his fees. View "Christian v. Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

by
At issue was what findings a court must make in order to require attorney’s fees to be paid to an adverse party who was subjected to proceedings that were brought in bad faith or lacked substantial justification and what the appropriate means are for calculating attorney’s fees when a court determines that a party’s complaint includes claims that have substantial justification and claims that lack substantial justification. Respondents prevailed in having the trial judge dispose of Petitioner’s claims after the close of the evidence. The hearing judge found no substantial justification for each of Petitioner’s claims against Respondents and awarded $300,000 in attorney’s fees to Respondents. The court of special appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment, concluding that there was substantial justification as to some of Petitioner’s claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing judge (1) did not commit clear error in finding no substantial justification for the claims brought by Petitioner; but (2) abused his discretion in assessing $300,000 in attorney’s fees against Petitioner without articulating how he calculated his fees. View "Christian v. Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) that Employer and Insurer (collectively, Respondents) were entitled to offset the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner against the temporary total disability benefits paid to him by Respondents. Petitioner suffered injuries primarily to his back and neck while working for Employer. Employer received two different sets of disability benefits from Employer and Insurer, each awarded by a different state agency. Specifically, Petitioner was granted temporary total disability benefits by the WCC and ordinary disability benefits by the State Retirement Agency. The WCC found that Respondents were entitled to a credit for the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner. On judicial review, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the WCC. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because both sets of benefits compensated Petitioner for the same injury, pursuant to Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Empl. 9-610, the statutory offset properly applied to prevent a double recovery for the same injury. View "Reger v. Washington County Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
When P. Thomas Hoff, the founder of One Call Concepts, Inc. and Hanover Investments, Inc. (Hanover), terminated the employment of Susan Volkman and redeemed her shares of Hanover, Hoff and others brought this declaratory judgment action against Volkman in the circuit court to defend the procedures it followed to redeem her stock. At the time the declaratory judgment action was filed, Volkman had already filed, in a Minnesota state court, a breach of contract action against Hanover concerning the same issue. The circuit court refused to dismiss or stay the action in deference to the pending Minnesota action. The court then issued a declaratory judgment in favor of Hanover. The court of special appeals ruled that there were not unusual and compelling circumstances justifying the circuit court’s issuance of a declaratory judgment to resolve the same question at issue in the pending Minnesota litigation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that this action did not create unusual and compelling circumstances that would justify an exception to the principle that a court should not entertain a declaratory judgment action when there was a pending lawsuit involving the same issues. View "Hanover Investments, Inc. v. Volkman" on Justia Law

by
LaBonte worked for Electrical General, which had workers’ compensation insurance. LaBonte injured his back at work when he caught a ladder that was falling. The Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded him temporary total disability benefits and temporary partial disability benefits. Later, LaBonte was injured during a traffic stop of a vehicle that LaBonte was driving outside the course of his employment. According to LaBonte, the officer pushed him down onto the vehicle, causing his existing back pain to be aggravated. The Commission awarded LaBonte permanent partial disability benefits, finding that his disability was partly due to his work-related injury and partly due to “pre-existing and subsequent conditions[.]” Years later, LaBonte claimed that his back condition had worsened. The Commission reopened the case but found that a “subsequent intervening event” broke the “causal nexus” between LaBonte’s work-related injury and his existing condition. A jury found that LaBonte’s work injury was the cause of the recent worsening of LaBonte’s back condition. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, holding that the later incident did not preclude Electrical General’s liability for the worsening of LaBonte’s back condition. The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed, stating that liability for a temporary disability depends on the injury that occurred last, but liability for a permanent disability should be apportioned among all of the injuries that caused the permanent disability, not just the injury that occurred last. View "Electrical General Corp. v. LaBonte" on Justia Law

by
Between 2011 and 2013, a labor union held demonstrations at Walmart stores throughout Maryland, protesting Walmart’s employment conditions. Consequently, Walmart sued the union for trespass and nuisance and sought an injunction against the union. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Walmart and issued a permanent injunction against UFCW. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Walmart’s claims for trespass and nuisance were not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, and therefore, the circuit court properly denied the union’s motion to dismiss; and (2) the circuit court properly ruled that this case did not involve a labor dispute within the meaning of Maryland’s Anti-Injunction Act. View "United Food & Commercial Workers International Union v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law