On May 26, NELA and Public Justice jointly filed an amicus brief in the Eleventh Circuit matter of Thomas v. JSTC (No. 22-14191), encouraging the court to distinguish the appropriate standard of review for approval of opt-in FLSA settlements from Rule 23 class action settlements. In this case, the lower court approved every aspect of a proposed settlement except separately negotiated payments to the named plaintiffs in exchange for a general release, on the grounds that such payments constituted inappropriate service awards under precedent set in a Rule 23 opt-out class action case. Although courts retain substantial discretion as to whether or not to approve a FLSA settlement, the amicus brief argues that the public policy rationales behind scrutinizing service awards in a Rule 23 class action are inapt for collective action payments. Where members have opted in, payments will not come out of the common fund, and the plaintiffs sign broader releases than the collective members, separate contractual payments to plaintiffs should not be scrutinized as if they are class action service awards. NELA would like to thank Shelby Leighton at Public Justice, and our NELA drafting team: Clif Alexander and Lauren Braddy of Anderson Alexander, PLLC(TX); Carl Fitz … Read More
Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Committee Members:
On behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and its 4,000 national, circuit, state, and local affiliate members across the country, we write to express our strongest support for the confirmation of Nancy Abudu to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
NELA is the largest professional membership organization in the country comprised of lawyers who represent workers in labor, employment, and civil rights disputes. Founded in 1985, NELA empowers workers’ rights attorneys through legal training, promoting a fair judiciary, and advocating for laws and policies that level the playing field for workers. Our members litigate daily in every federal district and circuit, affording NELA a unique perspective on the profound impact of the judiciary on the daily lives and the rights of working people.
Ms. Abudu’s extensive litigation experience, her exemplary professional credentials, and her outstanding educational background, make her eminently qualified to serve as a federal appellate judge. Ms. Abudu received her undergraduate degree at Columbia University. She earned her law degree at Tulane University Law School where she served as Managing Editor of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal. While in law school … Read More
On July 20, NELA signed on to an amicus brief filed by the National Employment Law Project in the Eleventh Circuit case of Hamrick v. Partsfleet, LLC. The brief, filed in support of a petition for en banc review, challenges a ruling that drivers who do not cross state lines are not engaged in interstate commerce, and are therefore not protected by the Federal Arbitration Act. Hamrick and his fellow drivers were misclassified as independent contractors and denied overtime, and compelled into arbitration. The brief argues that where delivery drivers deliver goods that have been transported between states, those workers are protected under the Federal Arbitration Act. We are grateful to NELP and NELA member Shannon Liss-Riordan, Lichten & Liss-Riordan PC (MA) for drafting this brief.… Read More
On July 21, 2014, NELA filed a motion for leave and submitted a proposed amicus curiae brief in Turner v. Inzer, Case No. 14-11357, pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Defendant Inzer refused to consent to the filing of the amicus brief. The major issues on appeal are whether: (1) attorneys’ fees were properly awarded to defendant under Christianburg Garment Co. v. EEOC and Sullivan v. Sch. Bd. Of Pinellas Cty.; and (2) attorneys’ fees were calculated properly pursuant to Fox v. Vice. Counsel for plaintiff Turner is NELA member Lisa Lambert, Of Counsel, Law Office of Marie A. Mattox, P.A., Tallahassee, FL.
Plaintiff Cynthia Turner brought claims for wrongful termination and retaliation under state and federal whistleblower statutes and Title VII. Summary judgment was granted for defendant on all claims. The court held that plaintiff did not meet the first prong of the whistleblower retaliation claim and failed to make out a prima facie case under Title VII. Plaintiff appealed and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed per curiam. Thereafter, the district court granted defendant’s request for attorneys’ fees on the Title VII race discrimination and retaliation claims, but denied the request … Read More
NELA Vice President Alicia K. Haynes and NELA members Kenneth D. Haynes and Eric Schnapper have litigated the famous Ash and Hithon v. Tyson Foods case since December 1996. Their clients prevailed through two successful jury trials, endured three appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (in the 2011 appeal, they prevailed with a reversal in part en banc), and made new law with the landmark decision in Ash v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 546 U.S. 454 (2006). On March 19, 2013, the trial court refused to award attorney’s fees for their work as reflected in their fee petition, slashed their hours by 80% across the board, and awarded just $281,103.25, or 14% of the $1,981,678.00 originally sought. NELA’s amicus brief urges the Eleventh Circuit to vacate the fee determination and remand for a more detailed explanation of the fee reductions. The brief asks the court to keep an eye on the goal of encouraging competent attorneys to accept civil rights cases. The brief notes that failure to encourage competent attorneys to take contingent cases will lead to an increase in the number of claimants who proceed pro se. NELA extends its gratitude to NELA … Read More
On August 10, 2012, NELA joined Interfaith Worker Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Employment Law Project (NELP) as amicus curiae in Scantland v. Knight Enterprises, Inc. (Case No. 12-12614), pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, urging reversal of a grant of summary judgment in this FLSA independent contractor misclassification case. Scantland involves over 180 cable installation technicians of Knight Enterprises, Inc. (“Knight”), a cable installation company, who are seeking to recover unpaid wages and overtime pay under the FLSA. None of the workers received overtime for work performed over 40 hours per week as required by the FLSA. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the cable installation technicians were not employees of Knight, but were instead independent contractors who are exempt from the protections of the FLSA.
Focusing on the statutory language and historical underpinnings of the FLSA, specifically the breadth of the definition of “employ” under the statute, our brief urges the Eleventh Circuit to apply the FLSA consistent with its history. In addition, we advance strong public policy reasons that support a broad application of the FLSA, especially in this era of increasing abuse of the … Read More