Eight former SpaceX employees on Wednesday became the latest to sue the company and CEO Elon Musk alleging a hostile and abusive workplace that demeans women and LGBTQ+ people, saying in California state court they were unlawfully fired when they objected to his conduct.
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THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2024 Law360 iOS App Law360 Android App Follow Law360 on Facebook Follow Law360 on LinkedIn Follow Law360 on Twitter

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Fired SpaceX Workers Say Musk Runs Co. 'In The Dark Ages'

By Lauren Berg

Eight former SpaceX employees on Wednesday became the latest to sue the company and CEO Elon Musk alleging a hostile and abusive workplace that demeans women and LGBTQ+ people, saying in California state court they were unlawfully fired when they objected to his conduct.

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2nd Circ. Partially Nixes Injunction Over Amazon Firing

By Tim Ryan

The Second Circuit vacated on Wednesday a New York federal judge's order barring Amazon from firing workers for engaging in union activity, saying the judge did not explain why she imposed the broad prohibition while at the same time finding the company did not have to rehire a fired union activist.

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SEIU Unit On Hook For $6M In HCA Healthcare Strike Dispute

By Beverly Banks

An arbitrator has found a Service Employees International Union affiliate liable for more than $6 million in damages for replacement worker costs from a strike, a California hospital said Wednesday, while a union representative told Law360 that the decision is "outrageous and unprecedented."

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Amazon Flex Drivers Seek to Arbitrate Employment Status

By Abby Wargo

Nearly 16,000 Amazon drivers filed arbitration claims against the e-commerce giant with the American Arbitration Association this week seeking unpaid wages and compensation for work-related expenses because of their misclassification as independent contractors.

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6th Circ. Says Worker's Anti-Vax Bias Suit Prematurely Tossed

By Emmy Freedman

A trial court was too tough on a Christian job seeker when it threw out her religious bias lawsuit against an in-home healthcare provider that she alleged turned her away for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Sixth Circuit ruled Wednesday.

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NY AG, Firms Beat Cuomo Subpoenas In Sex Harassment Suit

By Patrick Hoff

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo can't force Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Vladeck Raskin & Clark PC to produce information about an investigation into sexual misconduct accusations that forced him to resign, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the firms were acting under the state attorney general's authority.

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DISCRIMINATION

9th Circ. Questions Arbitration Carveout For AmEx Workers

By Amanda Ottaway

A Ninth Circuit panel seemed inclined Wednesday to force four white former American Express employees to arbitrate their proposed class action claims alleging race bias.

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Marketing Co. Can't Sink ADA Suit Over Wellness Program

By Emmy Freedman

An Illinois federal judge refused to toss a proposed class action brought by marketing firm workers who allege a medical exam for the company's wellness plan violated disability bias law, saying their argument that the test wasn't genuinely voluntary was strong enough to stay in court.

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Associate Sues Kaufman Dolowich Alleging Disability Bias

By James Boyle

A former associate with national law firm Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck LLP claims in a federal lawsuit that attorneys at the firm's Philadelphia office discriminated against him after he asked for accommodations for his hearing impairment.

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FDIC Head Must Go To Change Status Quo, GOP Reps. Say

By Sarah Jarvis

House Republicans on Wednesday criticized Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chair Martin Gruenberg for not immediately resigning in the wake of a probe of the agency's workplace culture, but some Democrats took issue with the scope of a report on the investigation's findings while applauding his rumored successor.

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TV News Managers Blamed For Pride Memo Sue Nexstar

By Carolyn Muyskens

Two former television news managers in western Michigan sued their former employer, Nexstar Media Group, this week, saying the company turned them into scapegoats amid backlash against an internal memo suggesting reporters dial back Pride Month coverage and include "both sides of the issue." 

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Brief

Ex-WWE Employee's Sex Abuse Suit Paused For 6 Months

By Brian Steele

A former World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. legal staffer's sexual abuse and trafficking lawsuit against the company, WWE founder Vince McMahon and a former executive will remain paused until December, a Connecticut federal judge ordered, about two weeks after a prosecutor entered an appearance in the case.

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WAGE & HOUR

Conn. Eatery Owners Threatened To Kill Ex-Worker, DOL Says

By Abby Wargo

A Connecticut restaurant group and its leaders ordered workers to lie to federal investigators during a wage and hour probe and threatened to kill an ex-worker for helping the U.S. Department of Labor, the agency said in a complaint filed in federal court.

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Texas Firm Accused Of Misclassifying Paralegal As Contractor

By Irene Spezzamonte

A Texas personal injury law firm misclassified a paralegal as an independent contractor and its director constantly changed the paralegal's time sheets, resulting in unpaid wages, she told a Texas federal court.

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NM Pot Store Chain Unlawfully Keeps Tips, Budtenders Say

By Sam Reisman

A cannabis retail chain in New Mexico is accused of unlawfully taking tips from its budtenders under the premise that the money would be donated to a charity, according to a proposed class action filed Wednesday in federal court.

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Magistrate Endorses Axing OT Suit But Allowing 2nd Chance

By Abby Wargo

A federal magistrate judge advised tossing an unpaid overtime lawsuit against a California cold storage company that specializes in packing agricultural goods, but said the worker should have an opportunity to flesh out their claims.

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Brief

Ex-Wendy's Worker Drops Suit Over Breast-Pumping Space

By Ryan Harroff

A former Wendy's employee who accused the company and multiple related entities of failing to provide proper private space for workers to pump breast milk despite federal labor laws requiring them to do so has permanently dropped her claims from Ohio federal court.

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Brief

Construction Co. Owes $353K For H-2A Violations, DOL Says

By Benjamin Morse

A Nebraska construction company operating in California must pay nearly $353,000 in back wages and fines for denying 43 workers their full wages and rights under the H-2A temporary worker program, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday.

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LABOR

5th Circ. Won't Halt SpaceX Appeal In Case Challenging NLRB

By Emily Brill

The Fifth Circuit said Wednesday that it will continue weighing whether a Texas federal judge must pause an administrative suit against SpaceX from proceeding before the National Labor Relations Board, amid the company's constitutional challenge to the agency's structure.

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Brief

Massachusetts Pot Shop To Take Union Fight To 1st Circ.

By Sam Reisman

A Massachusetts cannabis retailer found to have engaged in union busting is appealing a district court order that directed it to bargain with a United Food and Commercial Workers local and to offer to rehire two fired union supporters.

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BENEFITS

Nelson Mullins Partner's Widow Must Arbitrate Pay Dispute

By Julie Manganis

The estate of a Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP partner who died last year is bound by a partnership agreement that requires disputes to be resolved through arbitration, a Massachusetts judge said in dismissing a suit brought by the attorney's widow.

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EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

CalPERS Opposes $5B Atty Fee In Musk Pay Fight

By Jeff Montgomery

The nation's largest public pension fund lined up Wednesday against a proposed $5 billion-plus fee for stockholder attorneys whose Delaware Court of Chancery suit blocked Tesla CEO Elon Musk's one-time $56 billion compensation plan, one day ahead of a Tesla shareholder vote to resurrect the pay deal.

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WHISTLEBLOWER

Conn. Justices Nix Health Dept. Worker's Whistleblower Claim

By Aaron Keller

The Connecticut Supreme Court has trounced a public health official's claim that she was fired for blowing the whistle on appointees who lacked mandatory credentials, upholding her termination but also backing her simultaneous pursuit of a union grievance and an administrative complaint.

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WORKER SAFETY

Energy Co. Says Specialist Can't Get Arbitration Exemption

By Catherine Marfin

A Houston natural gas company told a Texas appellate court Wednesday that an environmental specialist injured in a pipeline explosion isn't covered by an exemption for interstate commerce work in the Federal Arbitration Act, arguing that allowing him to claim the exemption would be akin to allowing a janitor to do the same.

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WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Disney Says 1st Amend. Dooms 'Star Wars' Actor's Firing Suit

By Gina Kim

Disney and Lucasfilm's counsel on urged a California federal judge to dismiss "Star Wars" actor Gina Carano's wrongful firing suit, arguing in a hearing Wednesday that they have a First Amendment right to disassociate their artistic expression from her public statements mocking pronouns and criticizing COVID-19 lockdowns.

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PEOPLE

Jackson Lewis Adds Fisher Phillips Labor Pro In Houston

By Lynn LaRowe

Jackson Lewis PC has bolstered its labor and employment practice in Houston with a litigator who came aboard from Fisher Phillips.

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EXPERT ANALYSIS

Crafting An Effective Workplace AI Policy After DOL Guidance

Employers should take proactive steps to minimize their liability risk after the U.S. Department of Labor released artificial intelligence guidance principles on May 16, reflecting the reality that companies must begin putting into place policies that will dictate their expectations for how employees will use AI, say David Disler and Courtnie Bolden at ​​​​​​​Porzio Bromberg.

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Patent Lessons From 7 Federal Circuit Reversals In May

A look at recent cases where the Federal Circuit reversed or vacated decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or a federal district court provide guidance on how to succeed on appeal by clarifying the obviousness analysis of design patents, the finality of a judgment, and more, say Denise De Mory and Li Guo at Bunsow De Mory.

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Litigation Inspiration: Attys Can Be Heroic Like Olympians

Although litigation won’t earn anyone an Olympic medal in Paris this summer, it can be worthy of the same lasting honor if attorneys exercise focused restraint — seeking both their clients’ interests and those of the court — instead of merely pursuing every advantage short of sanctionable conduct, says Bennett Rawicki at Hilgers Graben.

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LEGAL INDUSTRY

Analysis

How 3 Firms Cleared 2 Ex-Autonomy Execs In HP Fraud Case

By Bonnie Eslinger

A California federal jury's rejection last week of fraud charges against the founder and former finance vice president of British software company Autonomy validated an approach by the defendants' three law firms — Steptoe, Clifford Chance and Bird Marella — to form a "seamless" collaboration throughout the trial, from jury selection to closing arguments.

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Senate Panel OKs Fix For Federal Courts' 'Genuine Crisis'

By Courtney Bublé

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted out unanimously on Thursday a bipartisan bill to create 66 new and temporary judgeships to alleviate the federal courts' workload.

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Contentious Del. Corporate Law Changes Sail Through Senate

By Jeff Montgomery

After triggering rare public dissent, a multipart Delaware general corporation law amendment that would let boards cede some governance rights to big stockholders whisked through the state's Senate on Thursday without debate or an opposing vote, with a House vote expected as early as next week.

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Confronting The Psychological Toll Of Personal Injury Law

Personal injury lawyers advocate for clients who have experienced trauma, loss and life-altering injuries, but these cases can have an emotional impact on attorneys themselves — so it is crucial to address these challenges proactively and openly, and normalize the conversation around mental health in the legal profession, says Lisa Lanier at Lanier Law Group.

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Series

Playing Chess Makes Me A Better Lawyer

There are many ways that chess skills translate directly into lawyer skills, but for me, the bigger career lessons go beyond the direct parallels — playing chess has shown me the value of seeing gradual improvement in and focusing deep concentration on a nonwork endeavor, says attorney Steven Fink.

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LAW FIRMS IN TODAY'S NEWS

Adams & Reese

Ahmad Zavitsanos

Andrews & Springer

Ashby & Geddes

Bernstein Litowitz

Bird Marella

Bunsow De Mory

Burgess Law Offices

Cleary Gottlieb

Clifford Chance

Cohen Milstein

Cravath Swaine

DLA Piper

Eisenberg & Schnell

Farrah Martinez PLLC

Fisher & Phillips

Friedman Oster

Gibbs Law Group

Glavin PLLC

Hilgers Graben

Jackson Lewis PC

Kasowitz Benson

Katten & Temple

Katz Banks

Kaufman Dolowich

Lanier Law Group

Law Office of Steven J. Fink PLLC

Law Offices of Eric A. Shore

Lawson & Weitzen

Lieff Cabraser

Madsen Prestley

Mallison & Martinez

McElroy Deutsch

McGillivary Steele

Mitchell & Sheahan

Morgan Lewis

Morris Nichols

Munsch Hardt

Nelson Mullins

Norton Rose

O'Melveny & Myers

Orrick Herrington

Paul Weiss

Porzio Bromberg

Richards Layton

Roetzel & Andress

Ross Aronstam

Schaerr Jaffe

Sher Tremonte

Siri & Glimstad

Squire Patton

Steptoe LLP

Sullivan & Cromwell

Troutman Pepper

Vladeck Raskin

Werman Salas

Wright Close & Barger

COMPANIES IN TODAY'S NEWS

Agricultural Products Extension LLC

Amazon.com Inc.

American Arbitration Association

American Express Co.

Boy Scouts of America

Citigroup Inc.

Conn's Inc.

Deere & Co.

Delaware State Bar Association

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

Enable Midstream Partners LP

Energy Transfer LP

HCA Healthcare Inc.

Johnson Rice & Co. LLC

LKQ Corp.

LinkedIn Corp.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Moelis & Co.

Nexstar Media Group Inc.

Nokia Corp.

Pew Research Center

Quad Graphics Inc.

SEIU Local 121RN

Service Employees International Union

Southwest Airlines Co.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Tesla Inc.

The Walt Disney Co.

Total Quality Logistics Inc.

Twitter Inc.

United Food & Commercial Workers International Union

Wendy's Co.

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

Zebra Technologies Corp.

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN TODAY'S NEWS

California Public Employees' Retirement System

California Supreme Court

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Connecticut Department of Public Health

Delaware Court of Chancery

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Judicial Conference of the United States

Los Angeles Superior Court

National Labor Relations Board

New York Attorney General's Office

Texas Workforce Commission

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

U.S. Government Accountability Office

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

U.S. Supreme Court

United States District Court for the District of Utah

United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Wage and Hour Division