Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, loss of consortium, and invasion of privacy. Plaintiff’s claims stemmed from an incident in which one of the defendants allegedly berated Plaintiff, a Providence Fire Department employee, for allowing one of his dispatchers to be sprawled in his chair while on duty. Plaintiff was later transferred and demoted. Plaintiff filed two grievances against the City, alleging breach of the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The grievances were settled at arbitration for a monetary payment. After Plaintiff retired, he filed this complaint against the City and some of its officers. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts of Plaintiff’s complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege any conduct by the City that was extreme or outrageous. View "Gross v. Pare" on Justia Law

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The arbitrator in this case did not manifestly disregard the law or the provisions of the employment agreement at issue when he awarded Defendant extended severance payments based on his finding that Defendant had been the subject of a “de facto termination.” Defendant, the former vice president and chief financial officer of CharterCAREHealth Partners (Plaintiff), invoked the “de facto termination” provision of the parties' employment agreement and requested extended severance, contending that he had suffered a material reduction in his duties and authorities as a result of change in “effective control.” Defendant’s request was denied based on the assessment that he had suffered no material reduction in duties. Defendant filed a demand for arbitration seeking to be awarded extended severance benefits pursuant to the de facto termination provision of the employment agreement. The arbitrator determined that Defendant was entitled to the eighteen-month severance proscribed in the agreement’s de facto termination clause. Plaintiff filed a petition to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court denied the motion to vacate and granted Defendant’ motion to confirm the arbitration award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was nothing in the record to support Plaintiff’s contention that the arbitrator exceeded his powers or manifestly disregarded the law or the contract. View "Prospect CharterCARE, LLC v. Conklin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the superior court granting a motion to dismiss brought by Defendants in this case alleging that Defendants, including ESS Group, Inc., violated the Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, R.I. Gen. Laws chapter 50 of title 28 (WPA), and the Rhode Island Business Corporation Act (BCA), R.I. Gen. Laws chapter 7-1.2. The hearing justice determined that Plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the action. Specifically, the hearing justice found (1) Defendants’ conduct did not violate the BCA because Rhode Island has no authority to regulate the internal affairs of a foreign corporation, such as ESS, and the provisions that Defendants allegedly violated did not apply because the provisions use the term “corporation,” not “foreign corporation”; and (2) Plaintiff failed to assert a WPA claim premised on Defendants’ alleged BCA violations because ESS was not subject to the BCA. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff was not entitled to relief under the BCA count; but (2) Plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently pled a WPA claim. View "Rein v. ESS Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting a motion brought by Defendant, the State Public Defender’s Office, for judgment on the pleadings regarding Plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims. Plaintiff in this case filed two complaints. In Nugent I, Plaintiff appealed an arbitration decision concluding that the Public Defender’s Office acted wth just cause when it terminated Plaintiff’s employment. Judgment entered in favor of Defendant on the basis that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the arbitration decision in court. In Nugent II, Plaintiff alleged unlawful employment discrimination. Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that res judicata barred Plaintiff’s discrimination claims. The hearing justice granted the motion, and final judgment entered in favor of Defendant on all claims. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in Nugent II, holding that Nugent I was not a final judgment for purposes of res judicata because the consideration of Nugent’s standing did not reach the merits of Nugent I, and therefore, Plaintiff was not barred from seeking redress for her discrimination claims raised in Nugent II. View "Nugent v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court vacating an arbitration award that reinstated Michael Crenshaw to his position as a campus police officer for the Community College of Rhode Island. Crenshaw was allowed to continue in his employment for almost a year without completing the statutorily required police training academy or receiving a waiver from having to do so. When, eventually, Crenshaw’s application for a waiver was not approved, the college terminated his employment. CCRI Educational Support Professional Association/NEARI (the union) brought this grievance. The college denied the grievance, and arbitration ensued. The arbitrator ordered that Crenshaw be reinstated to his position and compensated for lost time. The superior court granted the college’s petition to vacate the arbitration award on the grounds that it was irrational and manifestly disregarded a statutory requirement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitrator exceeded his powers by arbitrating a dispute that was nonarbitrable from the start because Crenshaw’s conditional offer of employment was conditioned on his satisfaction of the statutorily mandated academy requirement. View "Community College of Rhode Island v. CCRI Educational Support Professional Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court in favor of the Town of Cumberland granting its motion to vacate an arbitration award in favor of Defendants, the Cumberland Town Employees Union and Norman Tremblay (collectively, the Union). The Town terminated Tremblay’s employment more than one year after Tremblay was injured at work. The Union filed an arbitration demand on Tremblay’s behalf pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (the CBA) between the Town and the Union. The arbitrator concluded that Tremblay’s grievance was arbitrable and directed the Town to reinstate Tremblay. A superior court hearing justice vacated the award, explaining that the Workers’ Compensation Court had exclusive jurisdiction over reinstatement disputes. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Union did not seek Tremblay’s reinstatement under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) but, rather, sought reinstatement based on the rights that the Union asserted the CBA afforded Tremblay beyond those delineated in the WCA; and (2) the Union’s contention that the CBA granted Tremblay greater rights than the WCA was one that the arbitrator could properly decide. View "Town of Cumberland v. Cumberland Town Employees Union" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants - a Union and the Treasurer for the City of Providence - holding that the Court need not pass on the merits of the superior court’s ruling because, under the raise-or-waive rule, Plaintiff forfeited his right to appellate review. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the hearing justice erred in granting Defendants’ motions for summary judgment because the City could not terminate him for off-duty conduct and because the Union did not comply with its duty to fairly represent him. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff was precluded from pursuing his right to appellate review because he failed to comply with the dictates of Rule 16(a) of the Supreme Court Rules of Appellate Procedure in his appellate brief in this case. View "Terzian v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants - a Union and the Treasurer for the City of Providence - holding that the Court need not pass on the merits of the superior court’s ruling because, under the raise-or-waive rule, Plaintiff forfeited his right to appellate review. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the hearing justice erred in granting Defendants’ motions for summary judgment because the City could not terminate him for off-duty conduct and because the Union did not comply with its duty to fairly represent him. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff was precluded from pursuing his right to appellate review because he failed to comply with the dictates of Rule 16(a) of the Supreme Court Rules of Appellate Procedure in his appellate brief in this case. View "Terzian v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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The trial justice erred by requiring Defendants to continue to provide accidental disability pension benefits to Plaintiff and to place him on a waiting list to return to his position at the Providence Fire Department under section 17-189(8)(a) of the Providence Code of Ordinances. Rejecting the claim of Defendants - the City of Providence and the Retirement Board of the Employees Retirement System of the City of Providence - that Plaintiff could not return to work after an injury due to his other illnesses, the trial justice concluded that section 17-189(8)(a) required the Board to place Plaintiff on a waiting list for an opening in the fire department and, until Plaintiff was reappointed, and the City to continue to pay him accidental disability pension benefits. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the clear and unambiguous language of the ordinance, the Board could not properly have placed Plaintiff on a list of candidates who were prepared to return to work, and the City was not required to pay indefinite accidental disability pension benefits to Plaintiff - a person who was no longer accidentally disabled but was otherwise unable to return to duty. View "Sauro v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court determining that Plaintiff need not comply with R.I. Gen. Laws 45-21-23 and 45-21-24 in order to continue receiving his accidental disability pension because those sections were not applicable to his situation. Plaintiff suffered a debilitating injury while performing his duties as a police officer and was granted an accidental disability pension. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff was subject to sections 45-21-23 and 45-21-24; and (2) Plaintiff may be required to undergo an independent medical examination on occasion at the direction of the Retirement Board and to submit such financial information as may be requested in accordance with section 45-21-24. View "Grasso v. Raimondo" on Justia Law