Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Mohammad v. General Consulate of the State of Kuwait in Los Angeles
Plaintiff was a Syrian national living in California as a legal permanent resident and is now a U.S. citizen. She is not and has never been a Kuwaiti national. In 2014, Plaintiff entered into a written employment contract with the Consulate to work as a secretary. Plaintiff alleges that the Consulate created a hostile work environment by harassing, discriminating, and retaliating against her on the basis of her gender, religion, and Syrian national origin, violated various wage and hour laws, and breached her employment contract. Claiming that she was constructively terminated from her employment, she filed suit.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of the Consulate’s motion to dismiss. The commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(2), applied. The employment of diplomatic, civil service, or military personnel is governmental and the employment of other personnel is commercial unless the foreign state shows that the employee’s duties included “powers peculiar to sovereigns.” The district court properly exercised its discretion in finding that Plaintiff, who was employed as an administrative assistant, was not a civil servant and that her duties did not include “powers peculiar to sovereigns.” View "Mohammad v. General Consulate of the State of Kuwait in Los Angeles" on Justia Law
Saw v. Avago Technologies, Ltd.
Saw worked for Avago’s Malaysian subsidiary and could acquire ordinary shares and stock options of Avago stock under a management shareholders' agreement governed by the laws of Singapore. The agreement allowed Avago to repurchase shares and options at fair market value should an employee be terminated “for any reason whatsoever” within five years from the date of purchase. After Saw’s position was eliminated in 2009, Avago repurchased his equitable interest. Saw sued Avago’s subsidiary for wrongful termination and obtained a favorable judgment in Malaysia. Saw separately sued Avago in San Mateo County, asserting that Avago breached the shareholders' agreement by relying on an unlawful termination to repurchase his shares.The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of Avago. Saw is not entitled to any relief under Singapore law. The shareholders' agreement's choice of law provision requires the application of the substantive law of Singapore. Whether his termination was lawful or unlawful under Malaysian law has no bearing on Avago’s contractual right to repurchase shares acquired by a former employee. Saw’s breach of contract claim fails as a matter of law under the express terms of the shareholders' agreement. Saw has no viable cause of action under an implied duty of good faith. View "Saw v. Avago Technologies, Ltd." on Justia Law
Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc.
Biomet employed Yeatts in a role that included implementing compliance policies. In 2008, Biomet terminated its Brazilian distributor Prosintese, run by Galindo, after learning that Galindo had bribed healthcare providers, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 78dd-1. Prosintese still owned Brazilian registrations for Biomet’s products. Biomet could not quickly obtain new registrations, and, in 2009, agreed to cooperate with Prosintese and Galindo “to implement the new Biomet distributors.” A distributor that replaced Prosintese hired Galindo as a consultant. Yeatts communicated with Galindo in that new role. Biomet entered into a 2012 Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Department of Justice, which required that Biomet engage an independent corporate compliance monitor. In 2013, Biomet received an anonymous whistleblower tip that Biomet continued to work with Galindo. Biomet informed the DOJ and the Monitor, terminated Yeatts, and included Yeatts on a Restricted Parties List. Biomet entered a second DOJ agreement that references Yeatts’s interactions with Galindo and paid a criminal penalty of $17.4 million. In Yeatts's defamation suit, the court granted Biomet summary judgment because Biomet’s statement that Yeatts posed a compliance risk was an opinion that could not be proven false and presented no defamatory imputation. Yeatts could not establish that Biomet made the statement with malice, so Biomet was protected by the qualified privilege of common interest and the public interest privilege. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that inclusion of Yeatts on the Restricted Parties List conveyed no defamatory imputation of objectively verifiable or testable fact. View "Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Jones v. IPX International Equatorial Guinea S.A.
Jones, a Michigan citizen, began working in Equatorial Guinea around 2007. In 2011, he started IPX to provide telecommunication services in Equatorial Guinea. IPX is incorporated and has its principal place of business in Equatorial Guinea. Jones was a shareholder, director, and employee, working as a Director-General under a contract, signed annually in Equatorial Guinea. He lived and worked there during the contract’s term. IPX decided in 2015 to open a U.S. subsidiary and sent Jones to Michigan. His work there was supposed to take six months. Jones would then return to Equatorial Guinea. After Jones arrived in Michigan, IPX learned that he may have stolen money and neglected important business relationships and suspended Jones. Jones claims that the suspension was a pretext to divest him of his stock. He sued for breach of contract in the Eastern District of Michigan. The court dismissed the complaint under forum non conveniens. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Equatorial Guinea is an available and adequate forum; IXP is subject to process there. Most of the witnesses and key documents are in Equatorial Guinea; witnesses can be compelled to testify there. Equatorial Guinean law governs under the underlying employment contract’s choice-of-law provision. There is strong evidence that Jones is not at home in the United States, negating the assumption that a U.S. court is most convenient for him. View "Jones v. IPX International Equatorial Guinea S.A." on Justia Law
Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co.
Anwar, a U.S. citizen, was hired to work for MEG International in Dubai. Anwar alleges that, following her promotion, her supervisor, Ramachandran, began harassing her about working when she had young children; openly made comments about not needing highly-paid female employees; and expressed his disapproval of Anwar’s divorce, going so far as to meet with her husband. Anwar alleges that this culminated in her termination, one day after she initiated her divorce. Anwar sued in a Dubai court and obtained severance pay. She argues that Dubai’s courts could not provide a sufficient remedy for sex and marital status discrimination. Anwar filed a complaint in Michigan, alleging that she was impermissibly terminated because of her gender, religion, national origin, and marital status, citing Title VII; the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act; and breach contract. The district court dismissed claims against Ramachandran for lack of personal jurisdiction and opened discovery for limited purposes: Investigating Anwar’s allegations that MEG International does business as MEG America and that the MEGlobal subsidiaries act as a single entity and Anwar’s allegation that Ramachandran and other MEG managers are employed by Dow. Dow obtained a protective order to prohibit depositions. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of all claims. Anwar did not allege facts, aside from those demonstrating possible macromanagement, that MEG International is the alter ego of MEG Americas. Under Michigan law, the separate entities will be respected unless “a contrary determination would be inequitable.” View "Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law
Chugach Management Services v. Jetnil
The zone of special danger doctrine can apply to local nationals working in their home countries under employment contracts covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as extended by the Defense Base Act (DBA). The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of a decision of the United States Department of Labor's Benefits Review Board (BRB) awarding disability benefits, pursuant to the DBA, to Edwin Jentil. Jentil was employed by a U.S. government contractor when he was injured. The panel held that the ALJ and BRB did not commit legal error by applying the zone of special danger doctrine to Jetnil. In this case, substantial evidence supported the ALJ and BRB's decision that Jetnil was entitled to disability benefits because his injury arose out of the zone of special danger associated with his employment. View "Chugach Management Services v. Jetnil" on Justia Law
Muchira v. Al-Rawaf
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that they forced her to provide labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. 1589. Specifically, plaintiff alleged six claims of involuntary servitude and illegal trafficking stemming from her work as a live-in housemaid to defendants. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the forced labor statute and that defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff failed to develop sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably conclude that defendants knowingly forced or coerced her to come to the United States, or to remain in their employ against her will, by means of serious psychological harm or abuse of law or legal process, when she otherwise would have left and returned to her home country of Kenya. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Muchira v. Al-Rawaf" on Justia Law
Rodrigues v. United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646
Petitioner, the former State director of United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646, FL-CIO (UPW) and a former administrator of UPW’s Mutual Aid Fund trust (MAF), was held liable by a federal district court for negligently making loans under ERISA and thus breaching his fiduciary duties to the MAF. The court entered judgment against Petitioner in the amount of $850,000. Petitioner filed a complaint in the circuit court requesting that UPW indemnify him for the $850,000 on the grounds that his liability to the MAF arose from actions he took solely in his capacity as agent for UPW and/or that UPW ratified his actions. The circuit court granted summary judgment for UPW. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that because Petitioner was responsible for his own conduct, he was not entitled to be indemnified for his negligent acts as a matter of law. Petitioner requested certiorari, claiming that the ICA erred in concluding that his negligence claim defeated his indemnification claim as a matter of law. The Supreme Court denied certiorari without reaching this issue, holding that ERISA preemption, not Petitioner’s negligence, defeated Petitioner’s state indemnity claims against UPW as a matter of law. View "Rodrigues v. United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646" on Justia Law
Posted in: ERISA, Injury Law, International Law, Labor & Employment Law
Beydoun v. Wataniya Rest. Holding, QSC
Wataniya, a Qatari corporation, operates restaurant franchises in the Middle East and North Africa. It has never operated any franchises in the U.S., nor does it have any offices, representatives, or employees in Michigan. Other defendants are natural persons, all citizens of Qatar. Beydoun,a U.S. citizen, was approached in Michigan by a Wataniya representative about becoming Wataniya’s CEO to “bring Western culture and restaurant franchises to the Middle East.” Beydoun accepted the position and moved to Qatar in 2007; his family followed in 2008. After moving to Qatar, Beydoun made several business trips to Michigan on Wataniya’s behalf. Wataniya purchased restaurant equipment from Michigan companies. After the relationship soured, the company accused Beydoun of mismanagement and of stealing significant sums of money. Beydoun responded that the company had not paid him his salary nor reimbursed him for living expenses. Wataniya revoked his exit visa, rendering Beydoun unable to leave Qatar. Beydoun filed suit in the Qatari courts seeking back pay and benefits. Wataniya counter-sued for $13.7 million and lodged a criminal complaint. Wataniya’s lawsuit and the criminal complaint were dismissed and Beydoun was awarded $170,000 by the Qatari courts. Beydoun was not legally permitted to return to Michigan until more than a year had passed. Beydoun sued in Michigan, alleging false imprisonment, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution. The district court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Beydoun failed to establish that the claims proximately resulted from Wataniya’s contacts with Michigan View "Beydoun v. Wataniya Rest. Holding, QSC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, International Law, Labor & Employment Law
Villanueva v. U.S. Dept. of Labor
Petitioner filed a complaint with OSHA, asserting that Saybolt and Core Labs had violated Section 806 of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, Title VIII of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. 1514A(a), by retaliating against him for blowing the whistle on an alleged scheme to violate Colombian tax law. OSHA, an ALJ, and the Board all rejected petitioner's complaint. The court concluded that petitioner did not demonstrate that he engaged in protected conduct because he did not complain, based on a reasonable belief, that one of six enumerated categories of U.S. law had been violated. Petitioner had not demonstrated that he engaged in any protected activity, and given this, the court could not say that Core Labs knew that petitioner engaged in a protected activity that was a contributing factor in the unfavorable actions of withholding petitioner's pay raise and ultimately terminating him. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Board's dismissal of petitioner's complaint because he had not demonstrated that his claim fell within the scope of section 806. View "Villanueva v. U.S. Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law